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Couch: Don’t Blame The Eagles For Tanking, Blame The Giants For Sucking

The question isn’t whether the Philadelphia Eagles tanked their game against the Washington Football Team Sunday night, taking out starting quarterback Jalen Hurts and putting in some guy no one has ever heard of, Nate Sudfeld, so they’d lose on purpose.

They did.

That put WFT in the playoffs as NFC East champs. And it left the New York Giants out, whining and crying, especially on Twitter. Past and current players, fans and media, plenty of boo-hooing about the lack of integrity of the game.

The real question is this: How can a team that went 6-10, as the Giants did,  complain about unfairly missing the playoffs? Nothing would’ve lacked integrity more than the Giants’ offense in the playoffs.

I wish I could be there for you, Giants fans. For future reference, if you want to be in the playoffs, don’t go 6-10. No one with that bad of a record has ever won a division before.

I wish, too, that I could work up some anger over what Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson did Sunday night in Washington’s 20-14 win. But all year long, the NFC East was an exercise in the lack of integrity.

The most comical thing of all is that it wasn’t clear exactly when the Eagles were trying and when they weren’t. Trying, not trying in the NFC East. How can you tell the difference?

Give the Giants credit for one thing: After a season in which they should be wearing bags over their heads, it takes a big set of — let’s just say courage — to be upset with the Eagles over ruining their season. Did you know that the Giants scored a total of 49 points in their final four games? That’s eleven points a game.

Is that Nate Sudfeld’s fault?

If you didn’t see it, here’s what the Eagles did: They didn’t play 10 of their regulars, including running back Miles Sanders and tight end Dallas Goedert, top players who claimed injury. With a chance to tie the game in the third quarter with a gimme, 21-yard field goal, they instead went for it on fourth and goal from the 4. They failed.

In the fourth quarter, they benched Hurts in favor of Sudfeld, the usual third-stringer, who threw an interception, lost a fumble and stumbled around a little bit.

No matter how hard the Eagles tried, Washington couldn’t seem to put the game away. 

Finally, with two minutes left and the Eagles needing a stop to get the ball back, they jumped offsides, giving Washington a first down and the NFC East championship with their 7-9 record.

NBC’s Al Michaels apologized to the Giants. The Giants should be apologizing to us.

The Eagles also clinched the sixth pick in the NFL draft. If they had won, they’d have fallen to No. 9. Is that why they did this? Was it to spite the Giants? The benching of Hurts for Sudfeld particularly stood out.

“Yes, I was coaching to win,” Pederson said. “Yes, that was my decision solely. Nate has been here four years, and I felt he deserved an opportunity to get some snaps.’’

That actually resonates with me. It has been a brutal year for athletes at all levels dealing with COVID. At the college level, several teams opted out of playing in bowl games, which are usually considered lifetime memories. But they’d had enough of this year already. 

I realize that in the NFL, players are paid and it’s a professional thing. But Sudfeld was at practice, and he put in the work. And he never played.

The Eagles were out of the playoff race. And if you’re coaching players all season through such a rough time, it’s not such a horrible thing to let a guy have a chance to get into a game.

Sudfeld was the 187th pick in the 2016 draft, taken by Washington after having one big season at Indiana University. To call him a career backup would be overstating things. He pretty much never plays. He actually sat on the bench a few years ago when the Eagles won the Super Bowl. 

Now, he’s going to go down as a running joke. He’s the NFL’s official white flag.

“Can someone make it make sense to me what’s going on. . .?’’ Giants running back Saquon Barkley tweeted. And then Eli Manning retweeted Barkley and added “This is why we don’t like the Eagles.’’

So now there is a call for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to issue some sort of punishment. Teams have to try hard, or there needs to be consequences.

Maybe so. But over the past four years, the Giants have lost 10 games or more every year and Nate Sudfeld has won a Super Bowl ring.

Which one has more football integrity?

Written by Greg Couch

Greg earned the 2007 Peter Lisagor Award as the best sports columnist in the Chicagoland area for his work with the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a college football writer in 1997 before becoming a general columnist in 2003. He also won a Lisagor in 2016 for his commentary in RollingStone.com and The Guardian.

Couch penned articles and columns for CNN.com/Bleacher Report, AOL Fanhouse, and The Sporting News and contributed as a writer and on-air analyst for FoxSports.com and Fox Sports 1 TV. In his journalistic roles, Couch has covered the grandest stages of tennis from Wimbledon to the Olympics, among numerous national and international sporting spectacles. He also won first place awards from the U.S. Tennis Writers Association for his event coverage and column writing on the sport in 2010.

7 Comments

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  1. My only comment is that I don’t know what you (or anyone espousing the Eagles threw the game theory) saw from Hurts the first 3 quarters (7-20 72 yards, 1 Int, 2 touchdown runs) that made you think he could lead the Eagles to victory? If not for 8 penalties on WFT in the first have, several of which were questionable, the Eagles with Hurts did nothing offensively. It is not as if Hurts had thrown for 2 td’s with 250 yards going into the 4th quarter and Pederson yanked him. Perhaps so many of the frontline players not suiting up is somewhat of a tank job but the QB substitute not buying it.

  2. Worst article I’ve read since I became a VIP member and reads like a normal mainstream media clown looking for clicks. I am a lifelong Giants fan and this had nothing to do with the playoff for me, and literally every single Giants fan I know said the exact same thing. Regardless of the fact that it feels like we’ve finally turned a corner we know we’re not good, trust me. But this had nothing to do with our record. As a fan of the game we want to see the game played with the integrity we are asked to support week in and week out regardless of who is playing. If I wanna watch a trash NBA game where teams start tanking from day one, I’ll turn that crap on. How does Pederson looks his guys in the eye and get their respect back after they’ve been told to bust their ass all year long? Dude, try harder or grab a mop, you shit the bed on this one.

  3. The Steeler’s 3rd string QB Josh Dodds got some snaps in their game that Cleveland needed to win. I think the difference is if Pederson really thought he deserved some snaps then put him in for a series in the 2nd quarter not at the end of the game.

  4. It’s hard to justify any team with a losing record making the playoffs, but if they do, should they really be hosting a first round playoff game? They won a bad division. And to think that in past years, 3 teams from the NFC East would be in the playoffs…wow.

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