Philadelphia – All experiences mean something to Galen Hurts.
This includes his college career at both Alabama and Oklahoma, where he consistently competes for national championships. It also includes the lowest points, such as sitting out Alabama, last season’s brutal playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And most recently, playing through a sore right shoulder that may or may not affect him in the Eagles’ playoff game against the Giants on Saturday.
Hurts addresses all of that, using it as motivation, or his “daily deposit,” as he likes to say.
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“No matter how big the game is publicly, we know what we’re working towards,” said Hurtz. “We know we’ve put ourselves in that position with what we’ve done all season. The consistency we’ve had all season. The focus we’ve had all season. The preparation and work we’ve put in all season, pre-season, in the off-season.
“So I don’t think anything changes in terms of the process. The process remains the same in everything, but the standard goes up. We just want to build on the things that brought us here.”
But this process means different things to different vultures. Which is why losing to the Giants may not be just a temporary setback on the road to the Super Bowl.
The Eagles, on the other hand, just wrapped up a season with a 14-win streak and secured a top seed with home court advantage up to the Super Bowl.
The future is bright, or so it seems. There are young stars throughout the offense in the Hurts, wide receivers AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert. All but Hurts were signed for the next three years, and there is no doubt that Hurts will get a lucrative extension.
The offensive line is always among the best in the NFL, and young players like rookies Jordan Davis, Cam Jurgens, and Nakobe Dean are waiting for their chance while learning from the veterans who are currently waiting for them.
On the other hand, the Eagles could have close to 20 free agents after this season. Franchise backers like Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham, and Fletcher Cox are in the final years of their contracts. So do safety Chauncey Gardner Johnson, linebacker James Bradbury, defensive lineman Javon Hargrave, right guard Isaac Somalo and running back Miles Sanders.
Obviously, not everyone can return.
That includes Bradbury. He is in his seventh season in the NFL, but has only played one playoff game. It was 2017, his second season with the Carolina Panthers. So don’t tell him the Eagles can always make it to the Super Bowl next year if it doesn’t happen this season.
“It depends on each person’s mindset and perception of everything,” Bradbury said. “I’ve only been to the playoffs once, so I understand the importance. Also, I’m on a one-year deal, so I want to do my best in the playoffs.”
Others, like veteran defensive tackle Linval Joseph, 34, and Ndamukong Suh, 36, are likely for one last chance at the Super Bowl.
But it goes beyond the list.
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Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon SPent up interviews last weekend for head coaching positions. It’s easy to see why the Eagles finished the regular season third in total offense and second in total defense after the Eagles finished the regular season.
When asked about the interview process, Gannon replied, “Yeah, the New York Giants,” because that’s what he’s focused on.
However, there’s a good chance Eagles head coach Nick Siriani will have to replace his coordinators, something Siriani said he’s willing to do. It could be an internal candidate like quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson or defensive backs coach Denard Wilson, or someone from another team.
So yeah, this could be the Eagles’ best chance. And the Eagles have to look at it that way.
This goes for Hurts as well, even though he’s only 24 years old.
It was something Hurts learned after last season’s playoff game, when the Pirates clearly outscored the Eagles, as the No. 6 seed, in a 31-15 loss that wasn’t even close to the score indicated.
This laid the foundation for this season, starting with Hurts, who established himself as a candidate for MVP.
“Right after last year’s playoff game, the wildcard game, there was a lot I learned from it and I took it from that in the offseason,” said Hurts. “I think it’s good for us to try it together as a team, and to have a lot of players back.
“And to have a lot of players like Jason Kelsey (who) decide to stay because he sees the potential of what it could be…the opportunity we have now.”
The Eagles may not have a better one.
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The Eagles will face the Giants for the third time in six weeks. However, no team has ever seen the other in full force.
At the first meeting, on December 11, Goedert had an injured shoulder, as well as Gardner-Johnson. For the Giants, Saquon Barkley had an injured shoulder that put him in question. In addition, linebacker Leonard Williams, and defensive backs Adoree Jackson and Xavier McKinney sat out for injuries.
So when the Eagles jumped out to an early 21-0 lead in their 48-22 win, the Giants suspended Barkley. Then in the second game, on January 8, the Giants rested several key players because their playoff spot was closed. And while the Eagles played as a starter, Hurts was limited by his shoulder injury.
It’s safe to assume that no one will be holding back on Saturday. That includes the Eagles properly handling Lane Johnson, who plays with a torn adductor muscle that requires surgery.
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And if that’s the case, Hurts will run. We’ve seen all year how effective the Eagles offense can be, both in running and passing, because the opposing team has to be held accountable for hurt.
Sanders knows this, when asked if he was looking forward to seeing Hurts no strings attached.
“Absolutely,” Sanders said, laughing. “It just pokes holes more.”
When the Giants focus on stopping runs, Hurts also has Brown (1,496 yards) and Smith (1,196), not to mention Goedert.
This is the big difference. Quarterback Daniel Jones, who can also run, doesn’t have receivers who can burn the Eagles. So Darius Slay and Bradbury wouldn’t need help on Giants receivers, thus enabling the Eagles to focus on Jones and Barkley.
result: Eagles 28, Giants 20
Contact Martin Frank at [email protected] Follow us on Twitter @Mfranknfl.