It was quarterback Gardner Minshew’s first start as a Philadelphia Eagle. With Eagles starter, Jalen Hurts nursing an injured ankle, head coach Nick Sirianni and his staff had to trust Minshew, so they put the ball in his hands and let him go.
He clearly showed that he’s a veteran quarterback because he knew where he was going with the football before each snap. Minshew started out sizzling hot. In the first three drives, the veteran signal caller led the Eagles to 21 points and 211 yards of total offense with on time and accurate throws. He completed 10 out of 10 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns. He doesn’t have a gun for an arm, but he gets the ball where it should be and it’s on time.
Despite the amazing start by Minshew and the Eagles offense, the Jets, who were led by rookie quarterback Zach Wilson matched the amazing start of the Birds. For a moment, I was thinking Tom Brady was dueling with Patrick Mahomes, rather than Minshew and Wilson having a shootout. Minshew started out with back to back to back scoring drives and Wilson, the rookie had the Jets offense sizzling and he was putting the ball on the money to his receivers.
With the Eagles trailing 6-0, Minshew was able to engineer a long drive, which with started with a screen to tight end Dallas Goedert and ended with a 36 yard touchdown throw to Goedert. The Birds tight end ran a deep seem route against New York and Minshew hit him in stride. Goedert, who is really starting to shine as one of the Birds most talented weapons, broke a couple of tackles after catching the football and went into the end zone.
On the second drive, Minshew connected again with Goedert again for a score, but this time it was after Boston Scott had run a very good rub route and distracted the New York defender, who was supposed to be covering Goedert. The tight end was wide open on the route and went into the end zone for an easy score.
I thought Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon got back into his bad habit of playing a vanilla, passive style of defense. Even if you are playing zone, you can play in a way where you don’t let the other team get easy yards. The Eagles were dropping in coverage and not jamming the receivers or playing tight coverage in their zones. Wilson was showing why he was the second pick in the draft because he’s a special talent with great athleticism and an exceptional arm.
The Eagles had a lead at halftime because the Jets had a kicker who couldn’t kick an extra point. He missed his first two tries and after that New York head coach Robert Selah decided to go for two. The Jets got a rocket type of start to the game when kick returner Braxton Berrios returned the opening kickoff 80 yards to put New York on the Eagles 20 yard line. Wilson connected with rookie wide receiver #8 Elijah Moore for the first touchdown of the game. The diminutive playmaker gave the Birds problems with his quickness and sure hands and veteran running back Tevin Coleman showed the Birds defense that he’s still got a burst when he gets his hands on the football. Still the rookie Wilson wasn’t developed enough to put together the drives needed to mount a real threat against the Eagles.
In the second half of the game, the Eagles offense put together some drives, but they were able to take the ball into the end zone like they did in the first half, so they relied on the sure footed kicking of their kicker, Jake Elliott. He kicked three field goals in the second half and with their defense tightening up, the Birds were able to secure a comfortable 33 to 18 win.
Coming out of this game, the Birds know that they have a competent backup quarterback, who can run this offense if Hurts is injured. I don’t think there’s a quarterback controversy with Sirianni and his staff, but I think the success of Minshew in his first three drives is going to create a quarterback controversy with some of the Eagles fans.
Minshew is a good athlete for a quarterback, but he’s not a franchise quarterback because he doesn’t have a big time arm and you can’t pursue championships with the undersized veteran as your leader.
The Birds have a bye week coming up before a key battle with the Washington Football team.