Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he was “coaching to win” Sunday night’s regular-season finale against the Washington Football Team despite pulling quarterback Jalen Hurts in a three-point game early in the fourth quarter in favor of Nate Sudfeld.
Pederson added that it was his decision alone and not influenced by the front office, which saw the Eagles’ draft position improve as a result of the 20-14 loss. The result also delivered Washington the NFC East title. A win by Philadelphia would have handed the 6-10 New York Giants the division via a tiebreaker.
Pederson said the plan going into Sunday night’s game was to get Sudfeld some playing time.
“Nate has been here for four years, and I felt he deserved an opportunity to get some snaps,” Pederson said.
Pederson pushed back on the notion that he was trying to lose the game by noting that veterans like Brandon Graham, Zach Ertz and Darius Slay played. However, receiver Alshon Jeffery and quarterback Carson Wentz were healthy scratches, and the switch from Hurts to Sudfeld was not about performance, according to Pederson.
Hurts finished 7-of-20 for 72 yards with an interception and two rushing touchdowns. He was pulled early in the fourth with Washington up 17-14.
“As a competitor, I play to win,” Hurts said when asked if he was disappointed about leaving the game. “You’ve just got to trust Coach with that.”
The Eagles finished the season 4-11-1 and secured the sixth pick in April’s NFL draft. A win would have moved them to ninth overall.
Hurts, who replaced Wentz last month as the Eagles’ starter, finished with a passer rating of 25.4 — the lowest by a Philadelphia starting quarterback since Nick Foles posted a 9.3 rating in the final regular-season game in 2017. Foles finished that season as Super Bowl MVP.
Hurts also said he knew Pederson had planned to give Sudfeld some snaps.
“I know Coach had a plan to go about it the way he did and stuck to his plan,” Hurts said.
The Eagles missed the playoffs for the first time since Pederson’s first season in 2016. They face several important decisions in the offseason, starting with their quarterback dilemma.
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