PHILADELPHIA – So now we know how much the Eagles risked by playing Jalen Hurts last Sunday against the Giants.
The severity of Hurts’ injury was telling enough in the Eagles’ 22-16 win over the Giants on Sunday when the Eagles did everything possible to make sure that Hurts didn’t get hit in his shoulder. That, of course, was by not letting him run.
It was also telling in Hurts’ comments after the game when he said his shoulder was “good enough” to win the game.
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But the confirmation came from Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni on Tuesday when he was asked if Hurts will have to deal with pain in his shoulder as long as the Eagles remain in the playoffs.
“I’m not sure I can answer that question,” Sirianni said. “We are fortunate that we have two weeks until the next time we play. … He’s going to be a little bit healthier than what he was obviously the other day. He came out of that game sore because it’s still healing, right?
“We didn’t feel like we were putting him at any more risk of getting more injured. But we knew it was going to hurt him like hell; he knew it was going to hurt him like hell.”
And that’s how close everything the Eagles had built this season was to collapse.
Consider that the Eagles determined that they were better off with Hurts with his shoulder at whatever diminished percentage than they would have been with Gardner Minshew at full strength. And this was against a Giants team that started a practice-squad QB and sat six of their best players in addition to quarterback Daniel Jones.
If the Eagles had lost that game, Hurts and the Eagles would be playing this weekend in the Wildcard round. And we now know that Hurts’ shoulder would not have been much better than it was against the Giants. We also know that it wouldn’t be “good enough” to beat a playoff team that won’t be sitting any starters in the first round.
But we also learned something else about Hurts’ shoulder injury by what Sirianni didn’t say.
Sirianni certainly made it seem like the intention was to have Hurts sit out from the time he suffered the injury against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 18 until the first playoff game, a total of five weeks. The plan was for the Eagles to give Minshew two chances to lock up the No. 1 seed, against either Dallas or New Orleans.
If he did it, then either Minshew or third quarterback Ian Book would play in what would have been a meaningless finale against the Giants.
But Minshew couldn’t get the job done, so the Eagles had to go to Hurts against the Giants.
That gave Hurts three weeks. So now the Eagles have to hope that getting that bye week will make enough of a difference in the playoffs.
That was evident when wide receiver DeVonta Smith was asked what Hurts was like in practice last week.
“I feel like he went to whatever he felt comfortable with,” Smith said. “If he felt good doing something, he went with it. If he didn’t, he stopped.”
This leads to another question: Why would Sirianni divulge that Hurts’ shoulder “hurt like hell” against the Giants, and might not be fully healed when the Eagles play next weekend?
A quick aside: Since Hurts played against the Giants, he’s definitely going to play in the playoffs. So the “competitive advantage” theme that Sirianni likes to espouse when not revealing the status of an injured player does not apply here.
It doesn’t seem to help the Eagles to hint strongly that Hurts might not be fully healed. After all, the Eagles’ potential opponent has the video from the Giants game to see what that might look like. Hint: Not good.
But really, Sirianni didn’t sell the proverbial farm. If anything, Sirianni did the opposite.
That’s because Hurts was determined to play against the Giants because the Eagles needed the win, and the Eagles knew that Hurts was the best person to provide that win. Hurts knew what it would take from his injured shoulder to get the job done, and he made it work.
It’s the same in the playoffs. Hurts is the Eagles’ best quarterback to provide a victory. But Hurts also knows that his shoulder will have to be even better than it was against the Giants in order to get the job done.
And the Eagles needed the bye week just as much as Hurts did. There’s also right tackle Lane Johnson (groin), cornerback Avonte Maddox (toe) and defensive end Josh Sweat (neck) working back from their injuries.
So this, then, was Sirianni’s most telling quote about Hurts’ status for the playoff game.
“That’s the kind of player he is; that’s the kind of teammate he is,” Sirianni said. “He fought through (the pain) because it was important for him to be out there, and he knew how important it was for him and his teammates to be out there.”
So yes, Hurts’ shoulder will be better in the playoffs. It might not be 100%, but Hurts will do everything possible to make sure it’s “good enough.”
Whatever that takes.
Reddick wins monthly honor
Pass rusher Haason Reddick was named the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Month for December. Reddick had eight sacks, 14 QB hits, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in the last six games in the regular season. He’s the second Eagles player to win a monthly honor. Hurts was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month in September.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.