Had it not been for a controversial decision made by Doug Pederson on Sunday night, the New York Giants might be playing playoff football this weekend.
With the Philadelphia Eagles trailing the Washington Football Team by just three points early in the fourth quarter, Pederson pulled Jalen Hurts and inserted third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Sudfeld struggled mightily, and his poor play paved the way for Washington to win the Week 17 game and the NFC East.
The Giants, who took down the Dallas Cowboys earlier Sunday, would have claimed the division had the Eagles topped WFT. Several New York players voiced their frustration on social media as Hurts sat on the sideline. Head coach Joe Judge followed suit Monday while meeting with the media.
“There’s a number of sacrifices that have been made by all the players and coaches in this league,” Judge said, per NFL.com. “There’s a number of sacrifices that come along, as well, with the family members and the people connected to them. To disrespect the effort that everyone put forward to make this season a success for the NFL, to disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and doing everything you can to help those players win. We will never do that as long as I’m the head coach of the New York Giants.”
Given what was at stake in the final game of the 2020 regular season, it’s easy to understand why Judge is irked. But the fact of the matter is, this is common Week 17 practice. Teams not bound for the playoffs or teams with their postseason ticket already punched often will tweak their strategy whether it be for rest, giving bottom-of-the-depth-chart players a chance to see the field or improving draft position.
Not to mention, the Giants finished the campaign 6-10. They weren’t exactly “robbed” of a spot in the playoffs.
Perhaps Judge and Co. can take some solace in the fact that the future appears to be bright in the Meadowlands. With a healthy Saquon Barkley back in the fold next season, the Giants should be a legitimate threat to win the NFC East.