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Someone is finally coming to Nate Sudfeld’s defense.
Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce published a note on Instagram that represents his first comments since coach Doug Pederson benched Jalen Hurts and turned to third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter of a three-point game. The Eagles’ loss gave the NFC East title to Washington and eliminated the Giants from playoff contention.
“At no point was anything from me or anyone else confrontational,” Kelce wrote. “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.”
Running back Miles Sanders, who did not play in the game, said “nobody liked the decision” and the Philadelphia Inquirer reported two players confronted Pederson.
The Eagles’ motives are under attack because the loss allowed them to move from No. 9 to No. 6 in the 2021 NFL Draft order. And Sudfeld is a free agent who had four years with the Eagles to get an opportunity. Benching the rookie Hurts at a time when he could’ve proven his worth with a game-winning drive against a team fighting for its playoff lives is suspicious.
“We all have complete confidence in Nate as a player,” Kelce said. “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.”
Sudfeld was 5-for-12 with an interception and a lost fumble on 15 snaps.
“At the end of the third quarter I was told on the bench that Sudfeld was going in the game,” Kelce said. “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.”
Kelce’s reaction is especially relevant because of a passionate diatribe earlier this month on how tanking for one draft pick is wrong for a team.
“I think at all times in the NFL the focus should be winning the football game,” Kelce said at the time. “Nothing else takes precedence. No player evaluation, no amount of curiosity of anybody within the organization. Everything is focused, in my opinion, in this league on winning games.”
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