The Eagles were accused of tanking Sunday night after coach Doug Pederson inexplicably put Nate Sudfeld in the game over Jalen Hurts.
The move, which was labeled “disgraceful” by many, left NFL fans in shock as the game played a key role in determining the NFL Playoffs. If Washington won the game, it would make the playoffs. If the Eagles won, then the Giants would have made it in as NFC East champions.
But in the fourth quarter of a three-point game, the Eagles pulled their rookie sensation in favor of their third-string quarterback. The move was questioned by basically everyone, including Cris Collinsworth on the broadcast.
“I personally could not have done what they did,” Collinsworth said, alluding to the Eagles’ alleged tanking.
When asked about the controversial decision after the game, Pederson denied any tanking accusations.
“Yes, I was coaching to win,” Pederson said. “That was my decision solely [to play Sudfeld]. Nate has been here for four years and I felt he deserved an opportunity to get some snaps. Listen, if there’s anything out there that thinks I was not trying to win the game … [Zach] Ertz is out there, Brandon Graham is out there, Darius Slay is out there. All of our top guys are still on the field at the end.”
While Pederson’s explanation makes some sense, it’s also laughable because he excluded the most important “top guy” on the team — the starting quarterback. Hurts didn’t play well Sunday, finishing 7-of-20 for 72 yards, but he’s also coming off back-to-back 300-yard games. If the Eagles truly wanted to win, keeping Hurts in was their best option.
“As a competitor, I play to win,” Hurts said after being asked whether he was disappointed to leave the game. “You’ve just got to trust Coach with that. … I know Coach had a plan to go about it the way he did and stuck to his plan.”
Pederson’s explanation won’t please many, especially Giants players and fans, but at least he tried to make some sense of his decision.