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Eagles' Doug Pederson 'Was Coaching to Win' by Benching Jalen Hurts for Sudfeld

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2021

Philadelphia Eagles' Doug Pederson walks the field before an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson denied he was waving the white flag when he replaced Jalen Hurts with Nate Sudfeld during Sunday night's 20-14 loss to the Washington Football Team.

"I was coaching to win," Pederson told reporters after the game, adding he thought Sudfeld deserved to get on the field since he hasn't had many snaps during his time with the team.

The four-win Eagles were already eliminated from playoff contention, but they could've been a spoiler by knocking Washington out. Some read Pederson's quarterback change as a lack of awareness given the stakes.

Dan Orlovsky @danorlovsky7

That was a mockery https://t.co/llXwIiRDwt

Ryan Clark @Realrclark25

The NFL fans deserved better, the other 30 organizations & their players deserve better. In a pandemic the NFL found a way to power through 17 weeks. I mean fought like hell to play every single game! Who knew that the last 1 deciding the NFC East would have been the 1 to cancel

Then there's the added layer of how Pederson's own players may have reacted to the decision:

Jason_OTC @Jason_OTC

The people that Pederson has to really answer to are the Eagles players who were asked to play those last 30 minutes and will still be in Philly next year because I cant imagine they enjoyed whatever that was.

Michael Schottey @Schottey

Imagine playing a game where every single snap could be your last & you know that you’re gonna pay for each of these snaps when you’re 45 ...then your coach does that. Anyone who pretends that Doug Pederson didn’t just lose a good part of his locker room is insane

Hurts wasn't playing well, going 7-of-20 for 72 yards and an interception. If the Eagles had a better backup quarterback, then it would be far easier to argue taking him out of the game was the best way to get back into the lead. But Sudfeld hadn't thrown a pass since December 2018.

The general indignation about the NFC East playoff race seems misplaced.

A team that finished 6-10 doesn't have much room to argue about not receiving the requisite help to get into the playoffs. The New York Giants would be in the postseason right now if they had turned around any one of their 10 losses—Week 7 against the Eagles, for example.

By simply going .500, the Giants wouldn't have needed to worry about Washington's result against Philadelphia.

The criticism about what kind of message Pederson's players will take from Sunday night is more valid.

Resting starters in Week 17 is nothing new—the Pittsburgh Steelers sat Ben Roethlisberger for a game that determined one of the AFC's wild-card spots.

Maybe Pederson arranged this ahead of time and informed his team of the plan. It's something different entirely if the Eagles were as blindsided as everyone else watching the game.

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