Nick Sirianni’s message to his team this week is simple: Don’t make the moment too big.
That shouldn’t be a problem for his quarterback.
Sure, when Jalen Hurts takes the field on Sunday at 23 years of age, he’ll become the youngest quarterback in Eagles history to start a playoff game.
But he’s an old 23.
“He's played big games in college,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said. “And the way he prepares – I know I've said this a million times – but the way he prepares for every game, that's what you want in a quarterback.
“His preparation is second to none. He loves ball, he grinds every single day, mentally and physically, to get ready to play on Sunday. So, I know he's going to be ready to go.”
It’s undeniable that Hurts played in a ton of big games in his college career. He was involved in seven College Football Playoff games and three conference championship games.
But Hurts has also gotten a taste of playoff-like games in the regular season too. With the Eagles in a hole early this season, Hurts quarterbacked the Eagles to three consecutive wins after the bye week to punch their ticket into the postseason.
OK, there’s a difference between playing the Jake Fromm and Giants at home in December and playing Tom Brady and Bucs on the road in January. But the point here is that it probably won’t get to Hurts. Nothing seems to get to Hurts. The kid is unflappable.
While Hurts has had his ups and downs in his first full season as a starter, the one constant has been his poise. He’s the same guy if the Eagles are down 10 or up 15. He’s the same guy if the offense is clicking or sputtering. He’s the same guy when fans are cheering him, booing him or falling toward him from the stands. He’s stoic.
Theoretically, he’s going to be the same guy in the playoffs.
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Of course, that is always going to be somewhat unknown. How will players handle the big stage? How will they handle the mounting pressure when the spotlight is just a little brighter?
We’ll find out for sure on Sunday.
Because as much as the Eagles are operating like this is a normal week … it isn’t.
“I know [Hurts is] ready for the next game, which just so happens to be a playoff game and he's going to prepare the same way he has prepared,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “I know, from the outside, it looks like it's a bigger game and everything, but to us, we understand the consequences of losing and when you win — you're done if you lose, so we understand that.
“But our process remains the same through it all, and I'm confident in our process. I'm confident in Jalen’s process, that he's going to go out and be ready to play in this game.”