PHILADELPHIA – Doug Pederson went into Sunday night’s, early January game with a roster that resembled one you’d see in August, one lined with reserves, and the Eagles head coach coached like it was a summer exhibition.
That certainly won’t make him any friends in New York, not that he should care about that, but, hey, Giants coach Joe Judge grew up an Eagles fan in suburban Philadelphia and needed them to beat the Washington Football Team on Sunday night in order for him to take his team into the playoffs in his first season at the helm.
It didn’t happen.
Washington put the final nail in the Eagles’ painful season, defeating them 20-14 at Lincoln Financial Field.
The win gave the WFT the NFC East title with a 7-9 record and puts them into the playoffs as the fourth seed. They will host the fifth-seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of Saturday’s tripleheader wildcard round.
The Eagles, whose 4-11-1 final record is the worst since they went 4-12 in the final year of Andy Reid’s run in 2012, will head into an offseason of uncertainty with a bloated salary cap, a deficit in quality personnel, and a real issue at quarterback.
They played without nine players due to injury, including starter Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert, Fletcher Cox, and Derek Barnett.
By losing, the Eagles will pick sixth in the draft. A win would have dropped them three spots to No. 9.
Pederson certainly coached like he wanted his team to pick sixth and not ninth, with two moves that certainly made it look like he was tanking – not attempting a possible chip-shot field goal that would have tied the game late in the third quarter and by pulling Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld after three quarters.
“I was coaching to win,” said Pederson. “Nate has been here for four years and I felt that he deserved an opportunity to get some snaps. If there’s anything out there that think I wasn’t trying to win the game, (Zach) Ertz is out there, Brandon Graham’s is out there, Darius Slay’s out there, all our top guys are still on the field at the end, so we were going to win the game.
“The plan this week was to get Nate some time and I felt like that was the time to get him in the game.”
That may be all well and good in T-ball but in the NFL?
“As a competitor, I play to win, but you have to trust coach with that,” said Hurts. “Nate’s worked really hard all year. I think he’s a great player. Coach wanted to give him an opportunity at some point in the game and he was given the opportunity.
“Me being a competitor, talking about winning all the time and going out there and trying to win all the time, that’s what I’m all about. But I trust coach with that. That’s all I can do.”
Pederson opted to not attempt what would’ve been a 22-yard field goal try on fourth-and-goal at the five after a Marcus Epps interception gave the offense the ball at the 15. The coach had Jalen Hurts try a pass on fourth-and-goal at the 5. It was incomplete and was Hurts’ final throw of the night.
“I couldn’t get the oomph on it like I wanted to,” said Hurts. “A situation like that, to score a touchdown, it’s a throw I make often. We get a touchdown its’s 21-20 in the end and maybe they have to go score. It’s tough.
“This will sit on my chest all offseason, kind of failing to get to the postseason, all the hard work we put it in. It’s going to sit on my chest, it’s going to sit on all of our chests. We’re going to come back on a mission.”
Here’s a closer look at what went down:
- In a season that hasn’t been much fun, Brandon Graham showed that he still knows how to enjoy himself. Serving as the lone team captain for the Eagles, he went to midfield for the coin flip where Washington right tackle Morgan Moses was waiting. Graham made the universal sign for a holding penalty and pointed at Moses with referee Ron Torbert looking on.
- Jalen Reagor left the game early with a head injury after catching one pass for 15 yards. His rookie season ended with a disappointing 31 catches, 396 yards, one receiving TD, and one punt return TD.
- The Eagles secondary was so banged up they had to play safety Rudy Ford at outside cornerback with undrafted rookie free agent Grayland Arnold in the slot.
- Linebacker Alex Singleton was credited with 14 tackles and ended as the team leader in that category with 119. He also recorded his second sack of the season.
- Marcus Epps finished as the team’s interception leader nabbing his second that gave the Eagles the ball at Washington’s 15. They couldn’t capitalize though as Pederson chose not to kick a game-tying field goal by going for it on fourth-and-goal at the 5.
- Undrafted rookie free agent defensive tackle Raequan Williams notched his first career sack. Brandon Graham didn’t get any and ended his 11th season without getting his first double-digit sack year. He had eight for the year but only one after Nov. 1.
- J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had two catches for 40 yards, but, surprisingly, that is not a career-high. He actually had a game last year with 43 yards. The second-round pick from 2019 ended his year with four catches for 85 yards.
- Running back Boston Scott seems to be an adequate backup to Sanders, but the Eagles need more in the backfield. Sanders cannot carry the load. This was the fourth game he missed due to injury this season. Scott, meanwhile, had 65 yards on 15 carries (4.3 yards per carry) and added two catches for 14 yards.
- Tight end Zach Ertz did not exactly go out in a blaze of glory. If this was his final game as an Eagle, it will not be remembered much. He had three catches for 16 yards.
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