Al Michaels Revisits the Eagles’ Controversial Jalen Hurts Decision to End the 2020 Season: ‘That Might Have Sealed Doug’s Fate’
After finishing the 2020 NFL season with an abysmal 4-11-1 record, the Philadelphia Eagles relieved Doug Pederson of his head coaching duties. On the way out, Pederson made a questionable decision with Jalen Hurts that drastically altered a division game with playoff implications. Legendary broadcast announcer Al Michaels suggests the bold move was the last straw for the former coach.
Doug Pederson benched Jalen Hurts in favor of Nate Sudfeld in 2020 finale
The Philadelphia Eagles entered their 2020 season finale against the Washington Football Team with zero chance of making the NFL playoffs. Still, they had pride to play for (or so it seemed).
Like many of the NFC East matchups that season, the Week 17 Sunday Night Football tilt was a closely contested game. The Eagles had a prime opportunity to play spoiler for the 6-9 Football Team trying to make the postseason over the New York Giants.
Washington led 17-14 at halftime. Neither team scored a point in the third, setting up a high-stakes fourth quarter with a playoff spot on the line.
Doug Pederson shockingly benched Jalen Hurts and put Nate Sudfeld in at quarterback. While Hurts wasn’t having his best day, he had scored each of Philadelphia’s touchdowns on the ground. Sudfeld was a career backup up to that point.
According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, Pederson felt the Indiana product deserved some snaps. “Yes, I was coaching to win,” he said.
Al Michaels wasn’t too sure of that as he watched the events transpire, though.
Al Michaels says Eagles brass hated the decision
When Doug Pederson pulled Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter to get Nate Sudfeld some reps, he certainly ruffled feathers around the league. The New York Giants would’ve made the playoffs if the Eagles won. Instead, it looked like Philadelphia was packing it in.
On a recent episode of The Rich Eisen Show, Sunday Night Football broadcast announcer Al Michaels revisited the last game of the 2020 NFL season.
“They put Nate Sudfeld in the game in place of Jalen Hurts,” Michaels said. “Everybody was so angry because the Giants had a chance to get in. People wanted to know what in the world are you doing putting Sudfeld in? They wanted to take a look at Sudfeld, who wouldn’t be on the roster in three or four years.”
Michaels also suggested that the controversial decision was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Pederson in Philadelphia.
“That might have sealed Doug’s fate,” said Michaels. “I know that Jeff Lurie was not very happy about what happened that night. They were embarrassed, and people were saying, ‘What are you doing?’ You owe it to every other team to give it your best. They put Sudfeld in, and it was a disaster. And Washington wound up going to the playoffs.”
The Eagles fired Doug Pederson at the end of the season, which seemed inevitable. However, some people like Al Michaels believe the former Eagles head coach didn’t do himself any favors.
Can Hurts be the longtime starter in Philadelphia?
Jalen Hurts is in his second season with the Philadelphia Eagles and his first as the full-time starting quarterback. The front office felt confident enough to trade Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts. The jury is still out on Hurts, though.
The former Alabama and Oklahoma signal-caller has had an up-and-down 2021 campaign. Hurts has thrown for 2,731 yards, 14 touchdowns, and nine interceptions while completing 61.3% of his passes.
While Hurts has shown flashes of what he’s capable of as a passer, he’s done his best work on the ground. The 23-year-old has carried the ball 130 times for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Hurts just earned a Pro Bowl nod as an alternate in the NFC. While he’s having an imperfect season, he’s proving he can be a competent starter in the NFL.
Even with the presence of Gardner Minshew in the locker room, Jalen Hurts has earned the trust of head coach Nick Sirianni as the Eagles’ starter moving forward.
The second-year quarterback must continue to make strides in his development to secure the job for years to come.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.