Jason Kelce, an infrequent social media poster, took to his verified Instagram account on Wednesday morning to clear the air about his stance on the Philadelphia Eagles pulling Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld in Week 17.
There had been speculation that Kelce was unhappy about the Eagles not doing everything they can to win considering the center’s previous comments against tanking. In addition, ESPN’s Tim McManus reported the following on Tuesday:
Center Jason Kelce, a team leader, approached Pederson to ask him about his decision to pull Hurts during the game, a source confirmed, though it was described as nonconfrontational.
Here’s Kelce’s explanation:
“Thought I would clear the air just to clarify and more accurately depict what happened during the game on Sunday. 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 wen 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 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 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 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 Sunday, but as always, that’s not just on him.”
Kelce has been one to publicly defend the Eagles’ decisions in the past. He was quick to back the team after they made a very unpopular move to release DeSean Jackson back in 2014, for example. In that vein, it’s not surprising to see the latest sentiment from him.
Kelce is the second team captain to state that the team knew that Sudfeld might get some playing time. Brandon Graham previously expressed as much.
But it doesn’t appear that everyone was on the same page considering the Inquirer’s report about how “many Eagles players and coaches were shocked and outraged” by Hurts being replaced. Miles Sanders went on the record to say that “nobody liked the decision.”
Regardless, what’s done is done. The Eagles ultimately did the smart thing (for once) to ensure they’d be picking No. 6 overall instead of No. 9 in the 2021 NFL Draft.