Just one day after reports indicated there was a sideline confrontation between Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson and several players over his decision to pull Jalen Hurts in a critical game against Washington over the weekend, center Jason Kelce took to social media to set the record straight.
Sources told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday that two defensive players had to be held back after Pederson shockingly pulled Hurts for third-stringer Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter when the Eagles were only trailing by three. Kelce and another player reportedly approached Pederson to ask him about it.
But Kelce released a lengthy post on Instagram insisting that everyone knew of Pederson’s decision to play Sudfeld ahead of Sunday’s game and that there was nothing “confrontational” about the players’ actions.
“At the end of the third quarter, I was told on the bench that Sudfeld was going in the game. 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,” his post read.
Kelce said he then began practice snaps with Sudfeld and other offensive linemen to make sure they would be prepared to take the field.
“At no point was anything from me or anyone else confrontational. We all knew leading into the game that Sudfield was told to be ready to play, and that Doug wanted to see what he could do in a game situation.”
He continued: “All of us during the week leading up were excited for Nate, a guy that has been with us for 4 years to get an opportunity in a real game to show the world what he can do. We all have complete confidence in Nate as a player, there’s a reason he’s been here this long, and a reason the team brought him back. And that’s because we feel Nate is a guy we can win with.”
Kelce did admit that while the plan was always to play Sudfeld, he was surprised that Pederson followed through considering how close the game was.
“I understand the optics of how it looked, and I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little surprised given the circumstances that the move happened when it did, but every one of us did our best, and all of us believe we can win with Nate Sudfeld… know we can win games with Nate, because I know Suddy can play, it didn’t work out Saturday, but as always, that’s not just on him.”
Several people have criticized Pederson for making the switch, with critics arguing that he intentionally tanked the game to improve his team’s draft pick. Among those were New York Giants head coach Joe Judge, whose team was eliminated from the playoffs because of Philadelphia’s loss.