‘Pretty Simple’: Doug Pederson Defends Benching Jalen Hurts, Eagles ‘Tanking’

Nate Sudfeld

Getty Eagles QB Nate Sudfeld went in for Jalen Hurts and helped Washington take the NFC East.

The Philadelphia Eagles preached a “no-hat rule” all week and then handed out free championship apparel. The Washington Football Team walked out of Lincoln Financial Field with a 20-14 victory on Sunday night and the NFC East crown. They intentionally tanked to earn a higher draft pick.

Jalen Hurts was benched in the fourth quarter of a 17-14 contest for backup Nate Sudfeld. Remember, Carson Wentz was a healthy scratch after rumors of him demanding a trade out of Philly started swirling earlier in the day. Hurts was by no means superb — 7-of-20 for 72 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception — but he did have two rushing scores and kept it competitive. The rookie looked miffed, perhaps a touch pissed off, when cameras panned to him on the sideline.

Sudfeld came into the season finale and looked every bit the guy who had attempted just 25 passes. The career third-stringer finished 5-of-12 for 32 yards and one interception, including several missed connections with wide receivers and botched exchanges under center. The fourth quarter resembled a preseason game.

“Nate has been here for four years and I felt he deserved an opportunity to get some snaps,” Pederson told reporters after the game. “Listen, if there’s anything out there that thinks I was not trying to win the game … you know, [Zach] Ertz is out there, Brandon Graham is out there, Darius Slay’s out there, all our top guys were on the field at the end. We were going to win the game.”

In fact, Pederson doubled down by saying that he had been planning on playing Sudfeld all week. It was part of the gameplan.

“Pretty simple,” Pederson said of the move. “The plan this week was to get Nate some time and I felt like it was the time to get him in the game.”

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Giants Players Go Nuclear on Social Media

Naturally, Giants players were upset about what appeared to be an Eagles team trying to lose on purpose. By dropping the contest to Washington, Philly locked up the No. 6 overall pick versus the No. 9 pick in April’s draft. They moved up three spots with the loss.

It sure seemed like the Eagles intentionally tanked, something that further enraged the Giants’ organization and Giants players who were counting on a Philly win to make the playoffs. Guys like Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Saquon Barkley, Julian Love all took to social media to let their feelings be known.

The decision to bench Hurts also rubbed the local and national media the wrong way as it went against the basic principle of football: “you play to win the game,” to quote former Eagles great Herman Edwards. ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky called it disrespectful to the game and other teams in the league.

Wentz Inactive, Pederson Denies ‘Fractured’ Relationship

Wentz was a healthy scratch for Sunday night’s season finale, but he was still out there on the sideline with his teammates. He was seen chatting with Sudfeld at times and carried himself with professionalism. If there was any truth to that bombshell ESPN report about Wentz demanding a trade, no one admitted it.

“I’ve got the utmost respect for him [Wentz] and I feel like together we get these things corrected and get back on track,” Pederson said after the game, “That’s my mindset going into the offseason and that’s where I’m at, and all this other stuff is kind of what’s out there. I still have total faith, total trust in Carson Wentz — and in myself together to get the job done.”

What about his relationship with Wentz? Has it been “fractured” as one report described it?

“I don’t understand where these are coming from,” Pederson said. “My relationship with Carson has been good. It’s been professional. We’ve communicated over the last month of the season. Look, I know he’s frustrated. He was the starter and I get that and that’s understandable.”

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