PHILADELPHIA — 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, which 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 both healthy scratches, and the switch from Hurts to Sudfeld was not about performance, according to Pederson.
Hurts finished 7-of-20 passing 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 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.