FIERRO: Contrary to popular opinion, Eagles committed no crime during Sunday night's loss

NICK FIERRO
The (Allentown) Morning Call (TNS)
Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts, from left, Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld talk during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

So let me see if I have this straight.

The NFL can force the Denver Broncos, who had no quarterbacks available on its roster, to play in the middle of a raging coronavirus pandemic, essentially guaranteeing the New Orleans Saints a victory. But that’s OK.

A team like the Philadelphia 76ers throws a YMCA pick-up squad out there for four straight years in order to acquire “assets.” That’s OK too.

The Pittsburgh Steelers give Ben Roethlisberger the day off for a game they started with a chance to earn the AFC’s No. 2 playoff seed and perhaps knock a division rival out of the playoffs. No problem.

But now a “forensic investigation by the NFL,” among other things, is being called for in the wake of the Philadelphia Eagles having the gall to insert third-team quarterback Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter of a Week 17 game while trailing by three points?

Do I have that right?

Eagles didn't bench Mahomes or Brady: The quarterback they replaced wasn’t named Patrick Mahomes. Or Joe Montana. Or Tom Brady. Or Johnny Unitas.

No, the quarterback they replaced was named Jalen Hurts, a rookie who was 7-for-20 for 72 yards and had led the team to a total of 13 points in the seven quarters that comprised the second half of all his starts.

Not exactly a championship resumé.

But let’s go ahead and crucify the Eagles and coach Doug Pederson, who may not have even had the power to make the call by himself, for intentionally trying to lose the game — a bit of a leap, given the circumstances — and thereby destroying the integrity of the sport, promoting the spread of COVID-19, being involved in a plot to overthrow the government and every other damn thing.

Because what the Eagles did in eventually losing the game by six points was just so egregious that they must be forced to disband the franchise and pay a $100 million fine on the way out.

Surely that’s the only way to begin to atone for the atrocious crime against humanity committed by a team that has become the scourge of American society.

Please.

Stop the wailing: Can all the wailing just stop long enough to put what the Eagles did on Sunday night into perspective?

They were losing to the Washington Football Team by three points after jumping out to a lead. Realistically, they were going to lose the game anyway.

But even for those who believe Hurts would have given them a better chance to win than Sudfeld, so what? At most, it would have been a marginal advantage.

Besides, Pederson had a plan to give Sudfeld, who has worked four years with this offense compared to Hurts’ four months, some work in the game. Others knew about it ahead of time, though apparently not the whole team, which definitely is a problem we’ll get back to in a minute.

So was this a felony or a misdemeanor or any kind of an offense?

Apparently to some, it’s the worst thing that happened since 9/11.

We know the drill: Look, we all know the drill. Anyone who’s been following what’s happening knows the Sixers, err, Eagles, secured the sixth spot in the 2021 NFL Draft order. A win would have moved them back to ninth.

Did they do everything in their power to win?

Of course not. Former starting quarterback Carson Wentz and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery were healthy scratches. Prized running back Miles Sanders, a key building block, was deactivated with a bogus injury.

These things happen all the time, especially in Week 17 of the NFL season, where many teams are already locked into or out of the playoffs.

And questionable as Pederson’s decisions may have been after the game began, they don’t necessarily mean he intentionally tried to lose, which is a borderline malicious way to describe the act of sending in a four-year veteran to replace a rookie who was 7-for-20 for 72 yards, one interception and 14 points in three full quarters of a game they trailed.

Pederson not absolved: That doesn’t mean Pederson is absolved. He fouled this whole thing up by not communicating his plan ahead of time to everyone who needed to know.

“If I’m being honest, nobody liked the decision,” Sanders said Tuesday in a radio interview on 94.1 WIP, as was reported by ESPN’s Tim McManus. “Nobody. That’s all I can say. I don’t know who was the main person behind that decision, but all I know is a lot of people on the team were confused.”

According to the ESPN report, center Jason Kelce approached Pederson to ask about the decision, but it was “nonconfrontational.”

Time to move along: So move along, folks. Nothing more to see here. No crime has been committed.

The Eagles are a mess from top to bottom. But there isn’t enough evidence to bring charges following their latest and, thankfully, final debacle of the 2020 season.