Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who was widely criticized on social media for replacing quarterback Jalen Hurts with Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 20-14 loss to the Washington Football Team, insisted he was playing to win and not tanking to get a better draft choice.
The Eagles will select No. 6 in the NFL draft. Had they won, they would have selected No. 9.
Pederson was also asked if it was his decision to pull Hurts or if he had input from management.
“Yes I was coaching to win, yes that was my decision solely,” Pederson said. “Nate has obviously been here for four years and I felt that deserved an opportunity to get some snaps. And listen, if there is anyone out there that thinks I was not trying to win the game, I mean, (Zach) Ertz is out there, Brandon Graham is out there, Darius Slay is out there, all our top guys are still on the field at the end so we were going to win the game.”
With 12 minutes and 53 seconds left in the game and the Eagles trailing 17-14, Pederson replaced Hurts with Sudfeld, who had not played this season.
Sudfeld was overmatched, completing 5 of 12 passes for 32 yards and one interception. He also lost a fumble and had a 14.6 passer rating.
The Eagles ended their season 4-11-1. Washington (7-9) earned the NFC East title. Had Washington lost, the New York Giants would have clinched the NFC East title.
When asked again if he was tanking, Pederson explained his decision.
“It was pretty simple, the plan this week was to get Nate some time and I felt it was the time to get him in the game,” Pederson said.
Hurts didn’t knock anybody’s socks off. He was 7-for-20 passing for 72 yards and one interception. Hurts also rushed eight times for 34 yards and two touchdowns. He had a 25.4 passer rating.
Still, he would have given the Eagles a much better chance to be competitive than Sudfeld.
Pederson was also asked about the ESPN report that Carson Wentz is expected to ask for a trade. Wentz was benched the final four games and wasn’t active for the season finale against Washington.
“I got the utmost respect for him and I feel like we can get these things corrected and get back on track and that is my mindset going into the offseason and that’s where I am at,” Pederson said. “All this other stuff is just sort of what is out there and I haven’t really seen any of that stuff so I still have total faith, total trust in Carson Went and myself together to get the job done.”