PHILADELPHIA — Eagles running back Miles Sanders said “nobody” on the team was in favor of the decision to pull quarterback Jalen Hurts in favor of Nate Sudfeld during a three-point game early in the fourth quarter against the Washington Football Team on Sunday night.
“If I’m being honest, nobody liked the decision. Nobody. That’s all I can say,” Sanders said during an appearance on 94.1 WIP on Tuesday. “I don’t know who was the main person behind that decision, but all I know is a lot of people on the team were confused.”
Pederson said the plan during the week was to get Sudfeld some snaps in a Week 17 game that had no playoff implications for the Eagles. Some players, including the quarterbacks, knew of the intention to insert Sudfeld into the game in the second half, while others were caught by surprise.
Center Jason Kelce, a team leader, approached Pederson to ask him about his decision to pull Hurts during the game, a source confirmed, though it was described as nonconfrontational.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, two defensive players had to be held back from approaching Pederson after the move was made. ESPN has not confirmed that report.
The move from Hurts to Sudfeld in a contested game that decided the winner of the NFC East sparked reaction throughout the league, including from New York Giants coach Joe Judge, who strongly suggested Philadelphia’s actions were disrespectful to the game. The Giants would have claimed the NFC East title with an Eagles win over Washington.
According to a source, Hurts’ health factored into the thinking in not playing him the whole game. He suffered a hamstring strain against the Dallas Cowboys the week before. Pederson described it as “lower-body tightness” at the time and said he believed it affected his play in the second half against Dallas. Hurts was not listed on the injury report this week, but because he wasn’t 100% healthy, the Eagles didn’t see upside in playing him the whole way, especially behind a banged-up offensive line.
The Eagles took a cautious approach overall to personnel. Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery were healthy scratches. They listed nine players as out on the final injury report, including Sanders, Dallas Goedert, Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett and DeSean Jackson.
Philadelphia was competitive regardless in what proved to be a six-point loss. Pederson said immediately after the game that he was “coaching to win.”
Washington held a 17-14 advantage when Sudfeld replaced Hurts in the lineup with 12:35 remaining in the game. The next two possessions resulted in turnovers. With the loss, the Eagles secured the sixth overall pick in April’s NFL draft. A win against Washington would have moved them to ninth overall.