Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson shocked nearly everyone when he benched Jalen Hurts in the team's final game of the season against the Washington Football Team on Sunday. Even his own players by surprised by the move, which happened in the fourth quarter, and some were so angry; they had to be restrained from confronting him. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, two "defensive players had to be held back from approaching Pederson." The team was only trailing by three when Pederson benched Hurts for Nate Sudfeld.
The Inquirer also reported center Jason Kelce and another offensive starter went to Pederson to asked him why he made a move. Hurts was not happy as he scored both of the team's touchdowns in the 20-14 loss. The Eagles were already eliminated from playoff contention, but it was clear the players wanted to win. The NBC broadcast caught Hurts on the sidelines saying, "That's not right," after he was benched.
"Man, if I'm being honest, nobody liked the decision, nobody," Eagles running back Miles Sanders said on sports radio 94 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."
Pederson talked about the decision after the game and said he was trying to win but wanted to get Sudfeld some playing time. "We were struggling just a little bit to move the ball," he said during a video conference call with reporters. "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 [had] an opportunity to pull that game out last night."
The Eagles were criticized for tanking after the move was made. Washington needed to win the NFC East and clinch a playoff spot, and the Eagles knew that. The New York Giants were watching the game because if Washington lost, they would have won the division and earn a trip to the postseason. But when Hurts was benched. Giants players went after the Eagles on social media. Some have speculated Pederson made the move so the Eagles could secure the No. 6 overall pick in the draft.