Last night the Philadelphia Eagles hosted the Washington Football Team for their final game of the 2020-21 season. Despite what could have been a winnable game for the Birds, Washington pulled off a 20-14 victory and the NFC East title.
But should it have ended this way?
While the game “didn’t matter” for Philly (who already lost their playoff shot), every person who walks onto that field with a helmet or headset should have the mindset to win.
Its’s not clear whether that was the case.
WAS THE GAME USED AS ‘TRIAL AND ERROR’?
Many can argue that since Philadelphia didn’t make it to the playoffs, there was no sense of pressure going into Sunday night. That, in and of itself, is true. Going into their final game, it was important that Philly focused on rebuilding in preparation for next season.
They planned to pull any starting player who ran the risk of further injury. This included Miles Sanders, DeSean Jackson, Dallas Goedert, Jordan Mailata, Derek Barnett, and Fletcher Cox. From there, they incorporated younger back-ups, likely to see if they could play just as well, or better than the older guys.
Then we get to the quarterback situation. Carson Wentz didn’t even suit up. Drama aside, I don’t think this was in ill-will from either party. Instead, head coach Doug Pederson and the front office wanted to see how Hurts and Sudfeld could carry the team if the Eagles proceed with a Wentz trade.
This was evident when Doug Pederson chose to pursue a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line, rather than tying the game [17-17] with a field goal. A test to see if Hurts could secure the points without relying on the kicker.
Bring in Nate Sudfeld, who has been with the Birds since 2017. The team knew all along he was going to play.
Hurts stated, “I knew that Doug wanted to get [Sudfeld] some playing time. He’s been working hard… Coach had a plan to go about it the way he did, and he stuck to his plan.”
Unfortunately, testing out the waters didn’t go well.
WAS HURTS BENCHED FOR POOR PERFORMANCE?
After a shoddy start by quarterback Carson Wentz, many thought rookie Jalen Hurts would be the Eagles saving grace.
Hurts came in hot, leading the Eagles to their first win against the New Orleans Saints, after four straight losses. In his first start, he completed 17 of 30 passes for 167 yards and one touchdown, later becoming the first player in NFL history to total at least 500 passing yards in his first two career starts.
Entering Sunday with a 1-2 personal record, Hurts ran for two touchdowns, giving the Eagles their only points in the game. However, he ran because he couldn’t complete his passes, finishing with 7 of 20 — a 35% completion. Unlike his previous games, he passed for only 72 yards and an interception before his night ended.
After the game, Pederson told reporters, “I was coaching to win.” If that was the case, the switch-up came down to poor performance. Benching two quarterbacks… for the back-up to the back-up makes the Eagles’ QB dilemma a living nightmare moving forward.
DID THE DRAFT SPOT MEAN MORE?
I hate to even speak of this option — the most disgraceful and disrespectful one of them all.
When the Eagles-Washington game was changed to primetime earlier in the week, it not only added entertainment value to see how the Giants-Cowboys game would pan out but would also allow the Eagles to predict their draft spot before kick-off.
Win and the Eagles get draft spot #9, lose, and they get spot #6.
If we’re being honest, the spot doesn’t make much of a difference for this team. Howie Roseman has drafted one Pro Bowl player out of his last fifty draft picks — Carson Wentz. Earning the #6 spot wasn’t going to make or break the Eagles in 2021.
The NFC East may have been horrific this entire season, but all four teams played to win every week prior to Week 17. Did Pederson see a winnable game and use Sudfeld as his decoy to lose?
Philadelphia — in all sense of the word — has been a blue-collar team who prides themselves in knowing that the fight never stops. They’re underdogs. They play to win and find pleasure in proving people wrong. Taking that away from the players and the fans now leaves Philly with nothing left to do other than defend themselves.
The 2020 season for Philadelphia has ended, and no matter what the reason for last night’s game was, everyone must move on.
Move on to an upgraded team that unites. Move on to a team that can gain respect again. Move on to a year of rebirth.