With critiques continuing to flow in regarding how Eagles coach Doug Pederson handled the end of the Week 17 loss to Washington, including from some within the Philadelphia locker room, veteran center Jason Kelce wanted to clarify his position on what took place.
The 10-year veteran wrote a lengthy Instagram post noting that he was aware that Pederson had plans to replace Jalen Hurts with Nate Sudfeld at some point in the season finale. Kelce also placed blame on the loss, which to many looked like the Eagles were not giving full effort to win, on the entire team, not just the quarterback.
“Thought I would clear the air just to clarify and more accurately depict what happened during the game on Sunday,” Kelce wrote. “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 (H)urts 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.
“At no point was anything from me or anyone else confrontational. 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 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.
“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. It was a difficult situation to be put into, especially when you have a 10-year veteran Center who doesn’t snap the ball to you accurately on your second drive of the game. I 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.”
Kelce’s clarification comes after reports suggested the center was seen asking Pederson why he pulled Hurts from the game. From the center’s point of view, the discussion wasn’t as confrontational as it had been characterized.
In light of Sunday night’s affair, a previous video of Kelce from early December talking about how winning should always be a priority for NFL teams has resurfaced. Played juxtaposed to the perception of the Eagles’ moves Sunday, it wasn’t a good look for Philly.
Most importantly, Kecle’s Instagram statement backs up Pederson’s claims that he planned to get Sudfeld into the game. While the decision still seems shaky — even Kelce admits such — a veteran leader backing his coach could go a long way toward squashing offseason consternation that could sour Pederson’s standing in the locker room heading into the 2021 season.
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