Jason Kelce made headlines a few weeks ago when he made an impassioned statement against the idea of tanking in the NFL. So after head coach Doug Pederson benched Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld in Philadelphia’s Week 17 matchup with Washington, there’s been natural curiosity as to what the Eagles’ veteran center thought about the decision.
Those hoping for more fuel to the fire running back Miles Sanders started by saying “nobody liked the decision” may be a bit disappointed.
In a three-slide post on his Instagram, Kelce explained he knew Sudfeld was prepared to play at some point. But the exact game situation caught him a little off guard.
“Thought I would clear the air just to clarify and more accurately depict what happened during the game on Sunday,” Kelce began. “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. 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 four 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 like 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 be be put into, especially when you have a 10-year veteran center who doesn’t snap the ball 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 Sunday, but as always, that’s not just on him.”
Kelce’s lengthy statement cuts against the report from Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer that “many Eagles players and coaches were shocked and outraged” by the decision to remove Hurts and insert Sudfeld. It also helps justify Pederson’s choice from a player’s perspective that hadn’t really been publicly expressed.
Regardless, the Eagles seem to have a lot to sort through as they continue into the early stages of the offseason.