PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jalen Hurts finally found Eagles fans annoyed by one of his audibles.
The changed play call that left some slightly ruffled? In this case, it was Hurts’ late decision to ask coach Nick Sirianni and some assistants to come into team headquarters on an off day and watch game film.
“I think Mrs. Sirianni gave me a hard time about that one,” Hurts said Thursday, laughing. “And his kids. But I told him we had business to tend to. We have an opportunity of a lifetime.”
Hurts doesn’t plan to waste it.
Hurts wore his red No. 1 jersey, the color that signifies no contact. It could have been any color, really. The Pro Bowl quarterback wasn’t throwing at practice anyway. His sprained right shoulder — which cost him two late-season games — isn’t 100% and won’t be by the time the Eagles play their first playoff game next weekend.
So with the Eagles back on the field for the first time during the bye week, Hurts essentially was a bystander. He used a towel as a stand-in for a football as he loosened up his arm.
But Eagles fans everywhere wanted to know, how close to the full Hurts will he be next week?
“I can’t give you a number,” he said.
Hurts called the relaxed day the “point of the bye week” and he wasn’t the only Eagles player that took advantage of the light practice. A.J. Brown, who set a single-season franchise record with 1,496 yards receiving, was just a sleeveless cheerleader in shorts at practice. Brown said he wasn't injured.
“I’m taking the time to take care of my body,” Brown said. “When I get back into practice, I’ll work on the details.”
The top-seeded Eagles (14-3) were in no rush to get serious about practice.
The Eagles will have a game at Lincoln Financial Field the weekend of Jan. 21-22 against the lowest remaining seed out of Tampa Bay, Dallas, New York or Seattle in the divisional round.
Against their NFC East rivals this season, the Eagles won two games against the Giants and split a pair of games against the Dallas. Hurts missed the second game against Dallas and the Eagles still kept the loss close behind Gardner Minshew. The Eagles haven’t played Seattle since a November 2020 loss. The Seahawks are a new team under QB Geno Smith.
The Eagles at least know they can play two games at the Linc, where they went 8-1 this season.
The expectations to win at home are raised about as high as their 2017 Super Bowl banner.
“That’s everybody’s goal in the end,” Hurts said.
Since the NFL expanded to 12 playoff teams in 1990, the No. 1 seed in a conference has lost a Super Bowl 18 times and won only 14 times. No team has won from No. 1 since the Eagles five years ago. The Eagles are a favorite to win another title — but they say they aren’t burdened by the expectations.
“I truly believe we don’t worry about any of this stuff,” Brown said.
Josh Sweat, who had 11 sacks at defensive end this season, returned to practice in pads and said he should be ready to play next weekend. The 25-year-old Sweat sat out the regular-season finale after he suffered a neck injury the previous week.
The Eagles are likely open the playoffs with this coaching staff for the final time. As happens when a team has success, assistants are ripe for plucking and this year is no exception. The Carolina Panthers already requested permission to interview offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is one of the hot candidates available.
Sirianni said his coordinators have remained focused on the Eagles. But he won’t stop them from chasing a head coaching job — and Sirianni already is making a list of who might replace them.
“I still have to think about those things because that is a very important part of being a head coach, is who you replace guys with,” he said. “You’re hoping that you have success. You’re hoping you lose guys for the benefit of them and their career and their family. You hate to lose guys because the reason they’re here in the first place is because I felt like they were really good coaches.”
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Dan Gelston, The Associated Press