In the NFL, whatever else it's about, it's about the quarterbacks.
The same holds true for the Jets and the Eagles at MetLife Stadium this afternoon. Whatever else this game's about, it's about the quarterbacks.
For the Jets, rookie QB Zach Wilson makes his second start after missing four starts with a knee injury. Everyone in the stands and on the sidelines will want to see if Wilson get his offense off to a quicker start than it has been, thus helping the Jets toward (a) their fourth win under first-year head coach Robert Saleh, (b) their first two-game winning streak this season, (c) their first home regular-season win ever over Philadelphia, and (d) their first regular-season win anywhere over the Eagles.
Standing in their way are the green Birds from the other end of the New Jersey Turnpike. But they have their own QB storyline. Jalen Hurts is one of the best Run Pass Option QBs in the NFL today, which has made him one of the top rushers at any position in the league heading into Week 13 and Philly the top rushing offense in the game. But Hurts hurt his ankle in last week's MetLife loss to the Giants. He said during the week he was ready to go but Nick Sirianni, the Eagles' first-year head coach, wasn't ready to declare his QB starter until this morning.
Two hours before today's 1:02 p.m. ET kickoff, Hurts had not been seen warming up while backup Gardner Minshew was throwing. Sirianni and Hurts had until 90 minutes before kickoff to decide how they would handle QB vs. the home team today. The call: Hurts inactive, Minshew starting.
Minshew, it should be noted, faced the Jets once before, in 2019. He threw for 279 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, for a 119.6 passer rating, in the Jaguars' 29-15 home win over the Green & White. He has taken only 14 offensive snaps this year, all in relief of Hurts in the Eagles' Week 8 win at Detroit.
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And while Wilson and the Jets will be trying to raise their record to 4-8 and keep their momentum going deep into December, the Eagles are trying to win to improve to 6-7 and remain in the hunt for an NFC wild-card berth and not lose to fall to 5-8 and possibly into the NFC East cellar should the Giants prevail at Miami today.
As for the Jets' active/inactive situations, assisting Wilson in turning the Jets' offense explosive, No. 1 WR Corey Davis (groin) is active for the first time in three games and Denzel Mims (reserve/COVID) for the first time in four games. And Dan Brown, TE and key special teams contributor for the first seven games before being traded to the Chiefs, is back and has been elevated from the practice squad for this game, as have RB Austin Walter — one of the supporting stars in last week's win at Houston — and DL Ronnie Blair.
Blair will help the Jets' defensive objective of trying to contain Hurts and/or Minshew as well as RB Miles Sanders, since Sheldon Rankins, a key veteran member of the Jets' DL rotation, is out with a knee injury.
The Jets have also moved on from K Matt Ammendola and have given the placekicker's job to rookie Alex Kessman, whom they signed Nov. 23. Kessman made 72.6% of his field goal attempts over his four-season college career at Pitt, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chargers in May and waived in August. The ball is now in his court.
This is the Jets' seven-man inactive list:
- RB La'Mical Perine
- CB Rachad Wildgoose
- S Jarrod Wilson
- DL Tim Ward
- OL Isaiah Williams
- TE Trevon Wesco
- DL Sheldon Rankins
And this is the Eagles' six-player inactives list:
- QB Jalen Hurts
- RB Jordan Howard
- DB Kary Vincent Jr.
- CB Tay Gowan
- CB Mac McCain
- DT Marlon Tuipulotu