The latest edition of Sunday Night Football was the moment that the Washington Football Team beat the Philadelphia Eagles and clinched the NFC East. With the win, Washington knocked their other divisional rival, the New York Giants, out of playoff contention for 2020. The Football Team finished 7-9, while the Giants and Dallas Cowboys finished 6-10 and the Eagles finished 4-11-1.
While nothing to play for, Doug Pederson and the team clearly made headlines for the decision to bench 2nd-round pick Jalen Hurts for backup Nate Sudfeld. Most of the fans in Philadelphia support the loss, in favor of tanking for the 6th overall pick.
As dull as it seems, the Philadelphia Eagles’ loss on primetime hurt more than themselves and New York Giants. Here’s who is affected and why:
As funny as the memes may be and as entertaining as it seems, tanking is ruining football and modern sports. Doug Pederson’s latest stunt may have revealed that to other fans and executives.
Tank For Trevor
After losing many games, the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets appeared to be on the “Tank for Trevor”. Tank meaning losing for the 1st overall pick and having a chance to pick the Clemson star, while not trying to win. From an outsider’s perspective, many older Jets fans stopped watching their horrendous franchise while younger fans embraced the “tank”.
Many younger “tank” supporters said they were forced to do this because of the franchise’s mediocrity and assembling hate for head coach Adam Gase. Gase week after week did not change the gameplan and nobody in the front office called him out on it. Alike situations happened in Jacksonville.
At that point, both front offices and organizations have to know that the so-called “reward” for being continually bad is a high draft pick with a top player. The team continually lost until their first win in Week 15.
The Jets finished the season 2-14, while the Jaguars lost out after Week 1, finishing 1-15.
Pederson Hurts Jalen
Going into last Sunday night, many Eagles’ fans hoped to lose for the 6th pick, since Philly had nothing to play for. In a press conference after their finale loss to Washington, coach Pederson stated that he “coached to win” and that Hurts was struggling, a reason for Sudfeld’s appearance. However, Pederson stated that Sudfeld would get snaps if the game was not close enough for the Eagles to win.
Many detected that Hurts gave the Eagles a better shot than the career backup. Hurts was caught saying “it’s not right” on the sideline. Yes, the Eagles had nothing to play for. Though, giving valuable snaps to your future franchise QB instead of a career backup would help.
The Overshadowed Headline
One of the overshadowed highlights of the Football Team win is the story behind it. Ron Rivera faced adversity when he was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2020. He beat it two months later and then led his team to win the NFC East.
As for Alex Smith, he fractured his fibula and tibia in 2018 against the Houston Texans. After 17 surgeries and almost getting his leg amputated, Smith returned to action in late October, appearing in a game against the Rams. He took over as the starter for the rest of the season, once Kyle Allen suffered a season-ending injury.
What Should The NFL Do?
One of the reasons draft lotteries were implemented in the NBA and NHL was because of teams taking advantage of their mediocrity and cheating to get a high and valuable draft pick. Organizations know, because there is no lottery, that losing continually has an undeserving prize. Major League Baseball has a tanking issue as well, but that mostly happens to teams that are in smaller market areas and cannot afford big contracts because the MLB failed to input a salary cap, which would benefit all equally.
Though it is not easy to prove or punish on, the Commissioner’s Office must set standards for poor franchises who elect the tanking path. If that does not work, Roger Goodell may have to implement a draft lottery, to save the face of his sport.
Doug Pederson lost the respect of many NFL constituents, fans, and even coaches with his decision last Sunday. That was although, many Eagles’ fans stuck to his side because he helped them get to the 6th pick of April’s draft.
Though the game meant nothing but development and momentum, Pederson made an alike-decision to what New York Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone did to starter Deivi Garcia in Game 2 of the ALDS. Though it is completely unknown how Hurts feels, Pederson could have destroyed the confidence of his next franchise QB. He already destroyed the relationship between him and Carson Wentz. According to Jeff McLane, many sideline confrontations happened because of Pederson’s idiotic decision.
#Eagles players, coaches were shocked by Doug Pederson’s QB switch, resulted in sideline confrontations.
Two players had to be held back from going after the coach. A few more measured ones questioned him.
My story: https://t.co/JAasMUUIei
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) January 5, 2021
Running back Miles Sanders said that nobody liked the Hurts benching and that the coaches and players were shocked and confused.
Miles Sanders on @SportsRadioWIP on Jalen Hurts sitting" "Man if I'm being honest, nobody liked the decision, nobody. That's all I can say really. I don't know who was the main person behind that decision. All I know is that a lot of people on the team was confused." #Eagles
— John McMullen (@JFMcMullen) January 5, 2021
Pederson is an analytics-stubborn coach, going for 4th down tries 35 times this season and only successful 15 times, averaging out to 42.9% (27th in the NFL). Knowing many players are under contract and that the team gave it their all this season, despite injuries, many players may want out.
There is one-year remaining on Zach Ertz‘s contract, but the Eagles are very far from an extension with the veteran tight end. Ertz is willing to come back, emotional in a meet with the press. Jason Kelce, despite winning a Super Bowl with Pederson, could elect to retire because of his coach’s effort to lose the game and his views on winning in the NFL.
Doug Pederson could be losing his locker room and the front office with his ridiculous stunt.
Do Three Picks Make A Difference?
Three picks don’t make a difference when it comes to the 6th overall or 9th overall slot. The Eagles could be looking for another wide receiver or cornerback in April. Pederson’s sly stunt may not help the Eagles, as the last two first-round picks for Philly (Andre Dillard & Jalen Reagor) have high bust potential, as both have dealt with a number of injuries.
New York Giants
Many did not expect the NFC East to be as mediocre as they finished. Nobody also expected an ex-Patriots assistant to turn the New York Giants around.
Many media pundits like Colin Cowherd and others accused the Giants of “panicking” when the Carolina Panthers hired Matt Rhule as their head coach and the Giants lost out. As an effect, Big Blue hired Joe Judge, the ex-special teams and wide receivers’ coach of the New England Patriots. The pundits anticipated that Judge would instantly fail, like other coaches in the Belichick coaching-tree such as Matt Patricia, Bill O’Brien, and Josh McDaniels. The lone bright spot was former defensive play-caller, Brian Flores.
Turning Around The Culture
Defying expectation, Judge hired a staff of experienced coaches and turned the culture around. General Manager Dave Gettleman signed defensive stars such as Pro-Bowler James Bradberry, run-stopping linebacker Blake Martinez, and franchise-tagged Leonard Williams, who finished the season with a career-high 11.5 sacks. With that talent, Patrick Graham coordinated the 12th best defense.
The Giants finished second place in the NFC East with a record of 6-10. They are in the 11th draft slot.
The Cold Truth
The Eagles did not do them a favor by losing against the Washington Football Team on primetime. Sure, what Doug Pederson pulled a “Busch League” move by benching Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld.
However, the Giants had multiple shots to win more than six games. They lost close games against Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas (Week 5), Philadelphia (Week 7), and Tampa Bay. Coach Joe Judge even admitted they blew some of their 16 shots.
Playoffs were an incentive this year for Big Blue. They would not have fared well in a playoff atmosphere in the final year of a rebuild.
New York Giants players like Darius Slayton and Blake Martinez were not happy with Pederson’s effort. The best bet is that with Philly on a downward spiral, there is room for vengeance next year.