Ryan L. Fox
The end of the NFL season is considered to be one of the more interesting parts of the season itself. We gear up to see teams play on Wildcard Weekend and in the same breath, we see some of the teams who failed to make the playoffs clean house.
This time around though, there is something that has gotten the whole football word abuzz. Something that has now got people questioning a man’s integrity based off his actions in his team’s final game of the year.
For those who haven’t heard what’s been going on, I’ll help clue you in.
Last Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles hosted the Washington Football Team. If Washington won, they would clinch the NFC East divisional title and gain the 4th playoff spot. If they lost, then the New York Giants would clinch the NFC East and the 4th playoff spot.
It was a back and forth affair in the 1st half as the Redskins were up 17-14 going into halftime. Then in the 2nd half of the game, the game hit a stalemate as both offenses went stagnant. But as we got further into the 3rd quarter, on the Eagles’ second possession of the half there was some questionable play calling. Rather than attempt a 45+ yard field goal, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson elected to take a delay of game penalty before attempting a 41-yard punt instead.
The on the next Eagles’ possession following an interception, they had the ball at the Washington 11. After a 1-yard run on 1st and goal at the Washington 4, Pederson called for two straight passes instead of relying on the legs of QB Jalen Hurts, who had 2 rushing TDs in the game. On 4th and goal, rather than kick a chip shot field goal to tie the game up, Pederson decided to go for it. Hurts’ pass fluttered incomplete and the Eagles handed the ball over.
Then in the 4th quarter, with the game still within reach, the Eagles decided to change quarterbacks. Hurts was benched in favor of back-up Nate Sudfield, a QB who hadn’t play in an NFL game since 2018. Sudfield simple just chucked the ball down the field and kept turning the ball over (interception and then a fumble) as Washington tacked on a field goal and ultimately won the game 20-14, clinched the NFC East, and punched their ticket into the postseason.
So I bet you’re asking why are people up in arms about this game and questioning Pederson’s integrity?
Well anybody watching this game could tell you that Pederson threw the game.
He threw the game simply to get a higher draft pick. If the Eagles won the game, they would have fallen to the #9 overall spot. A loss would keep them.
But it wasn’t the fact that he threw the game, it was the manner he threw it.
Say what you want about the play of Hurts up to the point of his benching in the 4th quarter under center (7-for-20 for 72 yards & 1 INT), he kept the Eagles in the game with his two rushing touchdowns. He put the Football Team defense on high alert with his ability to not only throw but also to scramble as well (he had 8 carries for 34 yards). By removing him and putting in a quarterback with less mobility like Sudfield, that allowed the Football Team defense to just simply focus on bringing an extra blitzer without having to worry about the quarterback scrambling for a big game.
Also, with the two 4th down situations I mentioned earlier let’s take a look.
If the Eagles decided to kick the field goal during the first 4th down scenario, they would have been looking at a 51-53 yard field goal attempt. Although he was 2-for-5 on the year on 50+ yard field goals, K Jake Elliot is more than capable of making that distance (career long 61-yards back in 2017). If he missed it, at least you can’t fault Pederson for trying to go for it.
But on the second 4th down scenario, it would have been a 21-yard field goal chip shot for Elliot. That would have also tied the game up at that point and would force the Football Team to play a little more differently rather than just sit back and try to run the clock out on the ground.
To add more fuel to the fire of Sunday night’s ‘tank job’ is the fact that it has now come out that there was discourse on the Eagles sidelines. There are reports that when Pederson pulled Hurts out of the game, offensive linemen and defensive players were questioning the decision and even 2 Eagles defenders had to be held back from going after Pederson.
Hell if you were watching the game, you could look on the faces of the Eagles’ players. There was uncertainty, doubt, confusion, and resentment on their faces. Like they were in prime position to pull the rugs out from underneath the Football Team but instead had the rug pulled out from underneath them. Like they weren’t told what was going on until it happened and were expected to be cool with it.
I get it, whether you like it or not ‘tanking’ for a higher draft pick is considered to be part of a rebuilding strategy. It’s the ugly side of sports that regardless of how hard you try to get rid of, teams will find a way around.
But what Doug Pederson was detrimental.
He knew before the first snap that he wanted to try and tank for a higher draft pick. But instead of filling in players like a Jason Kelce, who last December said that tanking is detrimental to the game and sets a bad precedent, or his starting QB Hurts who is trying to make a case in showing why he should be the starter going forward, or what was happening, he kept it everybody in the dark.
So congratulations Doug. You accomplished your goal in tanking. And in the process, you have created the foundations of a lost locker room. Enjoy that hot mess.
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