Someone’s got some explaining to do — namely Philadelphia Eagles Coach Doug Pederson.
As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer on Jan. 4, 2021, fans and players alike were stunned and dismayed to watch Pederson sub in third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld for starting quarterback Jalen Hurts in the Jan. 3 game. So what’s the big deal? That kind of thing happens all the time in football, right? Right. But NOT when it’s the beginning of the fourth quarter and said football team is behind but only by three.
Once Pederson made the call, he was subjected to boos from the crowd. Hurts took his seat on the bench but not before NBC caught him saying, “That’s not right.”
Meanwhile, it appears the coach had bigger fish to fry as two of his own very angry defensive players were making a beeline straight for him, presumably to ask why he would do such a thing, albeit probably not that nicely. Lucky for Pederson the altercation was intercepted by the powers that be. Unfortunately, however, the damage was already done. The proverbial icing on the cake was when Sudfeld promptly choked and the Eagles lost, 20-14.
After the game, Pederson was immediately met with criticism from all sides, some even insinuating that the coach had intentionally thrown the game in an effort to get a better draft pick. YIKES. So what was the coach’s reasoning for taking such a drastic measure, one that would eventually cost his team the game? Keep reading to find out.
Doug Pederson said he wanted to give his third-stringer playing time
As one can imagine, morale in the locker room was low following the Philadelphia Eagles loss to Washington after an extremely controversial call by pro-football coach Doug Pederson.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, after the game, Pederson immediately got to work conducting damage control, explaining that while he very much wanted his team to win, he also wanted his third-string quarterback, Nate Sudfeld, to have some playing time.
Just a day later, however, Pederson backpedaled a little bit and blamed the team’s offense for his decision, instead of his desire to put Sudfeld in the game. “We were struggling just a little bit to move the ball,” he explained during a conference call with the media. “Defensively, they kept us in the game with a couple of takeaways late. And my plan was to get Nate in the game,” the NFL coach explained. “Nate’s a guy that’s very capable of running our system and executing, and [had] an opportunity to pull that game out last night,” he added.
Starting quarterback Jalen Hurts also seemed to be singing somewhat of a different tune. When asked for a reaction to his team’s loss after the game, Hurts said: “As a competitor, I play to win. You have to trust [Pederson’s plan].” Definitely a far cry from the player’s knee-jerk reaction upon being benched during the game.
Doug Pederson's motives are now being questioned
Others, however, weren’t as quick to let Philadelphia Eagles Coach Doug Pederson off the hook.
Per The Philadelphia Inquirer, NBC sports broadcasters Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth wasted no time questioning Pederson’s motives. New York Giants coach Joe Judge also minced no words while making what some believe to be an indirect jab at Pederson while referring to the controversial move as “disrespectful” to the game. Ouch.
There’s also speculation that Pederson may have been heavily influenced by the Eagles’ owner, Jeffrey Lurie, and general manager, Howie Roseman, for the questionable call. It’s worth noting, though, that should the team have won the game, they would have snagged the No.9 draft pick, instead of the No.6 pick following their loss.
Many others, however, maintain that it wasn’t so much the call itself, but the way Pederson blindsided his players. But some players refute those claims and are adamant that they always knew the plan was to put Sudfeld in the game.
“They wanted to win, for sure. We went out there all week saying how we wanted to go out there and win the game and make sure that we [didn’t] allow them to celebrate on our watch, especially as a defense, especially because we knew [defensive coordinator] Jim Schwartz, this was his last game with us,” defensive end Brandon Graham explained, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It was just tough not to send him off the right way,” he added.
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