Photo by: Jeff Fusco
On Sunday night, the Eagles clinched the sixth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Doing so by losing to the Washington Football Team by a score of 20-14. The result clinched the NFC East for the Washington Football team. The Eagles finish the season at 4-11-1. A meaningless Eagles victory on Sunday would’ve had them move down to draft ninth instead.
Down three points in the fourth quarter, Doug Pederson made the controversial decision to pull Rookie QB Jalen Hurts, who had accounted for the Eagles’ only two scores, for third-string QB Nate Sudfeld. Although Doug is taking most of the heat right now from the media, don’t fool yourself believing this was entirely his decision. Along with every other major decision in the Eagles organization, this was decided along with GM Howie Roseman and Jeff Lurie before the game. Jeff McLane, Eagles' beat reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer even reported this would happen prior to kickoff.
The decision left some to clamor for the NFL to discipline the Eagles. ESPN reporter, Sal Paolantonio, who has covered the Eagles for many years, called for the NFL to investigate the Eagles. Paolantonio went on the Dan Patrick Show, on Monday, and discussed the decision to tank:
Paolantonio: “If I’m the NFL, if I’m Roger Goodell, I’m putting on my Kenesaw Mountain Landis pants on right now and I’m doing a forensic investigation of what went down."
Patrick: “You’re being serious?”
Paolantonio: “Totally. Two-thousand percent.”
Yet, the NFL has turned a blind eye regarding the Eagles in the past. Including Jadeveon Clowney’s hit to the head on Carson Wentz that knocked Wentz out with a concussion in last year’s playoff matchup and the Cowboys’ Jaylon Smith hit in week 16 that gave Tackle Jordan Mailata a concussion.
Although a controversial decision, this decision to tank a meaningless game was the correct and intelligent move made by the Eagles organization. Over the past year, the organization has made some very questionable decisions, including drafting Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. But, for certain, the Eagles made the right choice in not attempting to win this game.
Some may not see as much value in moving up 3 spots at risk of not making “in-game integrity” a priority, but it could be the difference in the Eagles having a chance at drafting a franchise-altering player like a top QB prospect such as QB Zach Wilson or WR Ja'Marr Chase and not having that opportunity. Jets’ fans are devasted at the fact the Jets missed their shot at #1 draft prospect Trevor Lawrence, after the Jets started 0-13 and then won 2 consecutive meaningless games.
Our basketball team, the Philadelphia 76ers, tanked for not one night, not one season, but for three consecutive seasons to set them up to draft superstar players. This led them to All-NBA players in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Our bitter NFC East rivals up I-95 North, the New York Giants, who needed an Eagles win to sneak into the playoffs, were naturally upset over the events that occurred during the game. Giants’ Head coach Joe Judge has attacked Pederson for the decision saying "To disrespect the effort that everyone put forward to make this season a success in the National Football League, to disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and doing everything they can to help those players win, we will never do that as long as I am the head coach of the New York Giants."
The proper response to any attacks from the Giants' organization? “Kick rocks!” How about not finish 6-10 and depend on a team with 4 wins to let you in the playoffs?
The NFL is a business and the Eagles simply made a calculated business decision that was best for their organization, as they should’ve.