We’re now three days into the drama surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles’ decision to bench quarterback Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter of their regular season finale, and there’s no sign it’s dying down yet.
Center Jason Kelce refuted a recent report in the Philadelphia Inquirer that claimed players were angry, and two defensive players had to be held back from approaching head coach Doug Pederson on the sideline after he made one of the most controversial coaching decisions of the season: benching Hurts and inserting third-string backup Nate Sudfeld when the Eagles were trailing by just three points.
In a post on Instagram, Kelce said that he and others were not only aware the change might be made, but were excited for Sudfeld to get the chance to make his NFL debut after four years as a backup.
Kelce: No one was confrontational
Kelce’s Wednesday morning Instagram post added yet another narrative to this ongoing Eagles soap opera. He stood by Pederson’s decision to remove Hurts and put in Sudfeld, and said that no one, including himself, was confrontational about the decision on the sideline. While he admitted that he was surprised that the move happened when it did, he said that “all of us believe we can win with Nate Sudfeld.”
“Thought I would clear the air just to clarify and more accurately depict what happened during the game on Sunday. At the end of the third quarter, I was told on the bench that Sudfeld was going in the game. I went up to Doug and asked him if he was taking Hurts out, he said, ‘Yes, I think Nate’s earned the right to play.’ I said, ‘Everyone else is staying in?’ He said, ‘Absolutely.’ I then went to find Suddy. Started taking snaps on the sideline with him, called the other linemen over and had them listen to his snap count to make sure everyone was on the rhythm of his cadence, and then went out for the next drive.
“At no point was anything from me or anyone else confrontational. We all knew leading into the game that Sudfeld was told to be ready to play, and that Doug wanted to see what he could do in a game situation. All of us during the week leading up were excited for Nate, a guy that has been with us for four years to get an opportunity in a real game to show the world what he can do. We all have complete confidence in Nate as a player, there’s a reason he’s been here this long, and a reason the team brought him back. And that’s because we feel like Nate is a guy we can win with.
“I understand the optics of how it looked, and I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little surprised given the circumstances that the move happened when it did, but every one of us did our best, and all of us believe we can win with Nate Sudfeld. It was a difficult situation be be put into, especially when you have a 10-year veteran center who doesn’t snap the ball accurately on your second drive of the game. I know we can win games with Nate because I know Suddy can play. It didn’t work out Sunday, but as always, that’s not just on him.”
Other Eagles players upset at Pederson’s decision
Kelce used “we” a lot in his Instagram post, but the whole team may not be as together on this as he says. In an interview with 94WIP on Tuesday, running back Miles Sanders said that “nobody liked the decision” to bench Hurts and put in Sudfeld for the fourth quarter.
“Oh man, If I’m being honest, nobody liked the decision. Nobody. And that’s all I can say. I don’t know who was the main person behind that decision, but all I know is there’s a lot of people on the team [who] was confused.”
So we have Kelce saying “we all believe we can win with Nate Sudfeld,” and Sanders saying “nobody liked the decision” to bench Hurts for Sudfeld.
Where does the truth lie here? It would usually be somewhere in the middle of these two takes, but in this case, who knows. The only thing that’s clear is the team is in trouble. The Eagles were a mess on the field to end the season, and the offseason is kicking off with that mess moving off the field and into the locker room.
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