It turns out Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson’s head-scratching decisions didn’t just bother football fans and analysts. His orders also upset his players.
As the Eagles finished off the NFL’s 2020 regular season with a whimper — delivering the NFC East crown to the Washington Football Team — Pederson’s choice to bench rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts at the start of the fourth quarter in a three-point game reportedly enraged his players.
According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirier, “many Eagles players and coaches were shocked and outraged,” at Pederson’s choice to call in Nate Sudfeld — who appeared in just three games since 2017 — all but eliminating any hope of one last victory in a disappointing season that wound up finishing at 4-11-1.
“Some were angry. Two defensive players had to be held back from approaching Pederson,” McLane wrote. “Center Jason Kelce and another offensive starter went to the coach to ask him why he had pulled the starting quarterback with the Eagles trailing by only three.”
McLane also noted that Hurts was “distraught,” and was caught by NBC’s cameras saying “that’s not right,” after his benching. Pederson said after the game that the plan was always going to be to get Sudfeld some reps, but to do so in that situation in such a close game, regardless of what the situation was for Philadelphia, immediately questions the integrity of the organization.
His players didn’t know much about that initial plan, however as McLane noted that they had “no inclination that Sudfeld was part of the offensive game plan, and if they did, they figured it had been abandoned because of the tight score.”
With the loss, the Eagles’ first-round draft pick moved up three spots from ninth to sixth — a jump many believe to be the main factor as to why Pederson coached Sunday night’s game the way he did.
Along with the decision to bench Hurts, Pederson opted to punt from the Washington 35-yard-line in a one-possession game and not go for a game-tying field goal deep in the second half.
Pederson’s job is perceived safe for next year, though he looks to be entrenched in a mess this upcoming offseason.
Should he choose to stick with Hurts as his starting quarterback, Carson Wentz will be doing everything in his power to force a trade out of town. Meanwhile, star tight end Zach Ertz could be traded away — a move that is expected from the veteran pass-catcher based on his emotional press conference from Monday.
The Eagles will also be in the market for a defensive coordinator after Jim Schwartz revealed he’ll be taking at least the next year off to focus on his health.