Any amateur lip-reader could see that Jalen Hurts wasn’t happy about coming out of Sunday night’s game, aka TankGate. Despite their playoff dreams being shattered, the Philadelphia Eagles were playing for pride and Hurts gave them the best chance to win.
While Hurts took the high road twice — in his post-game comments and day-after Zoom call — the rookie quarterback probably shared the the same frustration some of his teammates did when they attempted to confront their head coach on the sideline. The drama reportedly unfolded at the beginning of the fourth quarter with the Eagles only down three points to the Washington Football Team.
According to The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane, two unnamed defensive players had to be “held back from approaching” Doug Pederson while center Jason Kelce and another offensive starter asked him why he had pulled Hurts. The second-round pick admitted he had been informed earlier in the week that third-stringer Nate Sudfeld might get an opportunity to play in the game. However, the situation didn’t seem to warrant it and the NBC Sports cameras appeared to catch Hurts saying: “That’s not right.”
“As a competitor, I play to win. You have to trust it,” Hurts said of getting benched. “Obviously, like I said, me being a competitor, I talk about winning all the time and going out there and trying to win all the time. That’s what I’m all about. But like I said, I trust [Pederson] with that. That’s all I can do.”
Pederson, of course, maintained he was trying to win and scoffed at playing to lose for a higher draft pick. “All our top guys are still on the field at the end. So, we were going to win the game.”
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Pederson Doubles Down on Decision to Play Sudfeld
After the game, Pederson was adamant that pulling Hurts for Sudfeld had nothing to do with intentionally trying to tank for better draft position. Remember, the Eagles moved up three draft spots by losing. The head coach was also crystal clear that he alone made the decision, with no directive from either general manager Howie Roseman or owner Jeffery Lurie.
“Yes, I was coaching to win. Yes, that was my decision, solely,” Pederson told reporters on Sunday. “Nate has obviously been here for four years and I felt that he deserved an opportunity to get some snaps.”
He was asked the same question again on Monday and asked if he would have made the same move after sleeping on it for 24 hours. Several talking heads in the media, plus the entire Giants organization, had blasted Pederson for making a mockery of the sport.
His thought process hadn’t changed. In fact, Pederson added fuel to the fire by listing Hurts’ struggles — 72 passing yards, 25.4 passer rating — as evidence that a quarterback switch was necessary.
“We failed to score there at the end of the third quarter. We were struggling just a little bit to move the ball,” Pederson said. “Defensively, they kept us in the game with a couple of takeaways late. And my plan was to get Nate in the game. Nate’s a guy that’s very capable of running our system and executing, and an opportunity to pull that game out last night”
Roseman ‘Not Worried’ About Job, Hot Seat
The general consensus outside the NovaCare Complex has been that Roseman is on the hot seat in Philly. Problem is, it doesn’t matter what Roseman’s critics thinks. The organization loves him to a fault and he’s not going anywhere.
“I’m not worried about my job,” Roseman told reporters on Monday. “That’s not anything that really concerns me. That’s out of my hands. I’m worried in doing what’s the best and right thing for this team to get back.”
Should Roseman be fired? Probably, yes. For starters, look at his horrendous draft track record — he has drafted exactly one Pro Bowl player, Carson Wentz, since 2013 — while missing out on two stud receivers in DK Metcalf and Justin Jefferson.
Worse yet, Wentz is probably gone after flaming out and (maybe?) demanding a trade. So the only pick that might elevate Roseman back to genius status is Hurts. That’s a lot to ask out of a second-rounder who showed a ton of growing pains in four games. Still, here we are.
“I’ve been here for a long time, and I have tremendous feelings about this football team, this organization, the people in this organization, and I’ve been very fortunate to be in this league for a long time,” Roseman said. “I’m going to do everything that’s in the best interests of this team to get this team back to being a perennial playoff team.”