Doug Pederson Fuels Eagles QB Controversy, Announces ‘Right Now’ Winner

Nate Sudfeld

Getty Eagles QB Nate Sudfeld is still the best backup in the NFC East.

If Doug Pederson is anything, he’s definitely consistent. The Eagles head coach hasn’t changed his mind about Nate Sudfeld.

Sudfeld, the former sixth-round pick out of Indiana, was declared the front-runner to win the backup quarterback job in May and not much has changed. Pederson told reporters on Thursday that Sudfeld is “right now our number two.”

The 26-year-old has been leading the second-team offense in live padded practices this week despite some jaw-dropping reps from rookie Jalen Hurts. The latter has been garnering hype as a contender to Sudfeld’s throne, but Pederson attempted to lay those rumors to rest. If the season started today, Sudfeld is the No. 2.

“Yeah, Nate is our number two,” Pederson said. “And, obviously, Jalen is still learning. Jalen, he’s done some really good things for us. Again, like I mentioned, he’s learning our system and he’s another one, one of our young players, that’s learning the game a little bit. He’s got some athleticism, we’ve seen that in practice. But Nate has done a nice job for us and Nate has come in and really — he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do from a backup position.”

So it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for Sudfeld but it’s an endorsement nonetheless. Reading between the lines, it sure sounds like the Eagles didn’t have enough time to get Hurts up to speed in this shortened offseason.

Pederson remains high on the second-rounder — some say the organization has been “blown away” by his physical traits — and he’ll have a role on offense in 2020. But Sudfeld is the backup, “for now.”

“We still have to put Nate in game-like situations, too, because again he’s one that needs that as a quarterback,” Pederson said. “And then we also need to put Jalen in those situations. Every position is being evaluated, obviously. But to answer your question, Nate is right now our number two.”

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Quarterback? Gadget-Style Sidekick?

The biggest question surrounding Hurts is what the Eagles plan to do with him. The 21-year-old has insisted time and time again that he is a quarterback, someone who aspires to start in the NFL someday. That’s not going to happen in Philadelphia, not with Wentz locked up through 2024.

One leading theory is Hurts will morph into a gadget-play specialist in Philly, much like the Saints’ Taysom Hill. Another one has him moving to a different position, perhaps receiver or running back. Hurts is explosive with the ball in his hands and the Eagles want him on the field in 2020. For now, the quarterback is focusing on, well … being a quarterback.

“I’ve played quarterback my whole entire life and I’m here just trying to grow at that position. Just takings to be the best quarterback I can be for this team,” Hurts said. “I don’t look into the expectations. I don’t worry about those things. I’m just worried about getting better as a quarterback every day, that’s what I’m worried about.”

Would he mind switching positions? Possibly turning into a trick pony of sorts? It doesn’t sound like that is Hurts’ long-term goal.

“I don’t want to get into the semantics of those things. I’m just worried about improving,” Hurts said. “I’ve said it three times [in this interview] and I don’t want to come off across any kind of way … I’m just improving and trying to be the best quarterback I can every day for this team.”

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