Gardner Minshew is the Eagles’ starting quarterback Saturday. Don’t fret. He has won NFL games.
OK, not against Dallas and not in this pressure situation.
But what an opportunity for him. He gets a golden audition — surrounded by five Pro Bowlers on offense — when he can show the rest of the NFL he should get the starting job he thinks he deserves.
Micah Parsons and Dallas’ eighth-ranked defense will be there to share holiday greetings.
THREE PREDICTIONS YOU’LL LIKE
GARDNER WEEK IN PHILLY
Legendary 6abc news anchor Jim Gardner retired Wednesday after more than 46 years on the air. He was the trusted voice Philadelphia watched to deliver the news for decades.
But the big story is … another Gardner.
Gardner Minshew will replace injured Jalen Hurts. Minshew started two games last year. In a win over the Jets, he was 20-of-25 passing for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
He also started the meaningless season-finale against Dallas. While the Eagles played back-ups, the Cowboys played starters and wanted to win badly.
Minshew was 19-of-33 for 186 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a 51-26 Dallas victory.
For the Eagles to win, Minshew has to do more than hand off the ball and throw safe and short passes. He’s got great receivers and he needs to use them deep and over the middle. Expect him to play a career game. He certainly isn’t lacking confidence to do so.
The tight end returns after five weeks away with a shoulder injury. Goedert and Minshew connected last season — 105 receiving yards and two touchdowns as the Eagles defeated the Jets, 33-18, on Dec. 5.
- “He’s just a smart football player, and he’s going to take what the defense gives him,” Goedert said about Minshew.
- “Maybe the Cowboys will be playing a little bit soft inside, worrying about DeVonta [Smith] and A.J. [Brown]. So hopefully, they forget about me, and [Minshew] can just dump it to me over the middle.
- “That’ll be pretty nice.”
Goedert’s return will improve the blocking and his value as a receiver is well known. He has 43 catches for 544 yards and three touchdowns.
- “Obviously no matter who plays quarterback for us, Dallas Goedert is a weapon for this football team,” coach Nick Sirianni said.
- “The more good players you can have on the field, the better.”
Goedert can’t win the game by himself but expect Minshew to utilize him. And expect a big game from the tight end the Cowboys wanted to draft in 2018 draft.
From 644 miles away, Nick Foles is the holiday present we all want and need. The Indianapolis Colts announced St. Nicholas will start their next game.
If this isn’t fate, what is? The greatest back-up quarterback in Eagles history getting a start while the current back-up quarterback steps in against Dallas.
Go, Nick, go.
THREE PREDICTIONS YOU WON’T LIKE
RAYNE DAKOTA PRESCOTT
Not a big fan of Dak, but a medium fan.
When he’s in rhythm, he looks unstoppable. But he’ll toss that odd interception, that overthrown ball, or the ball that bounces short.
Since returning from injury, Dak has thrown 10 interceptions. He also has thrown 17 touchdown passes in those eight games. Such is the duality of Dak.
Dallas can’t win without a big game from Prescott. Expect an enormous game from him. This is Dallas’ final chance to stay alive in the division race. Dallas also can set the tone and try to get an edge should the teams meet in the divisional round, a likely scenario.
OK, Parsons ran his mouth some about Hurts and faced some clapback. He’s still one of the NFL’s most feared defenders because of his pass-rushing ability. He has 13 sacks, the same as last season.
The Cowboys allow 19.2 points per game (seventh in the NFL). But they allowed 27.3 in the last three games — to Indy, Houston and Jacksonville, three losing teams.
This game is Dallas’ season and the Cowboys will face a back-up quarterback. Expect enormous pressure on Minshew, expect to see Parsons in the backfield frequently. This is the Dallas formula for victory.
Here is how the Cowboys are perceived in Philly:
- Half of the fanbase: We fear them. We worry about them 365 days a year. We have no chance.
- Half of the fanbase: They are overrated bums. They can’t beat us. America’s Team? Ha-ha.
- Reality: Dallas is 10-4, in the playoffs. The Cowboys gave the Eagles a scare when they rallied from a 20-0 deficit to cut the lead to 20-17 early in the fourth quarter in October.
You know this, in your darkest moments: The Cowboys are good enough to win the Super Bowl. They also could lose in the wild card round.
Dallas is a solid team. They’re not the Aikman-Smith-Irvin Cowboys. But they’re not unworthy of our respect.
They have enough weapons to win Saturday. Cowboys, 27-13.