Add another voice to the conversation about the Eagles’ controversial quarterback decision.
Philadelphia center Jason Kelce addressed the drama Wednesday morning in a lengthy Instagram post, saying he wanted to “clarify and more accurately depict what happened” during Sunday’s game between the Eagles and the Washington Football Team. Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson replaced starting quarterback Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter of that contest with little-used backup Nate Sudfeld, and that transition went about as well as expected. Sudfeld finished 5-of-12 for 32 yards with two turnovers, leading to accusations of tanking because Philly only trailed by three points when Sudfeld took the field. The Eagles ultimately lost by a final score of 20-14.
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Kelce claims he had a conversation with Pederson at the end of the third quarter about Sudfeld entering the game, so he started taking snaps with Sudfeld before the Eagles’ next drive. Kelce emphasized that “at no point was anything from me or anyone else confrontational.” Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported earlier this week that multiple Eagles players were so upset by the move that they had to be “held back” from approaching Pederson.
“We all knew leading into the game that Sudfeld was told to be ready to play, and that Doug wanted to see what he could do in a game situation,” Kelce said. “All of us during the week leading up were excited for Nate, a guy that has been with us for four years to get an opportunity in a real game to show the world what he can do.
“We all have complete confidence in Nate as a player, there’s a reason he’s been here this long, and a reason the team brought him back. And that’s because we feel like Nate is a guy we can win with.”
“I understand the optics of how it looked, and I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little surprised given the circumstances that the move happened when it did, but every one of us did our best, and all of us believe we can win with Nate Sudfeld,” Kelce continued. “It was a difficult situation to be put into, especially when you have a 10-year veteran center who doesn’t snap the ball to you accurately on your second drive of the game.
“I know we can win games with Nate, because I know Suddy can play, it didn’t work out Sunday, but as always, that’s not just on him.”
Not every player came to Pederson’s defense, though. Eagles running back Miles Sanders, who sat out Sunday’s game with a knee injury, was clearly baffled by the Hurts benching.
“Man, if I’m being honest, nobody liked the decision — nobody,” Sanders said Tuesday during an interview on 94.1 WIP. “That’s all I can say, really. I don’t know who was the main person behind that decision. All I know is that a lot of people on the team was confused.”
When asked about tossing Sudfeld into the game, Pederson told reporters he was “coaching to win” and that Sudfeld deserved the “opportunity to get some snaps.” He also pushed back on any tanking talk, noting that veterans such as Zach Ertz, Brandon Graham and Darius Slay played in the season finale.
The loss guaranteed the Eagles would pick sixth at the 2021 NFL Draft, whereas a win would have dropped them to ninth. Additionally, a Philadelphia victory would have given the Giants the NFC East title via a tiebreaker. Instead, the Washington Football Team won the division and will play the Buccaneers in the wild-card round.