By: Tom Greer
It’s been beaten into our brains… sports year, after sports year. Fan’s want to tank for a better draft pick. You’re welcome to put on your ‘tin foil’ hat and make the argument that sometimes… even team’s front offices want to tank to set their team up for a better draft pick. But in reality, every year when the ‘tankathon’ is on, fans are being sold on the promise of some new ‘young savior’ is making their way out of college. We’re told that players and coaches don’t tank they are here to “win game”. We’ve all heard it, the post-game press conferences when some reporter asks a coach of a bad team how he feels - wins will affect their draft position and the coach immediately tries to snuff out the flames of any tanking talk by saying generally with a slight attitude, something to the effect of “we are a room of professionals trying to win games and that’s it period.” Well, what if a coach DID care about losing? What would be an example of a team who is actually looking to pull off the successful tank? Well ladies, gentlemen and the gender-neutral readers of the world… I give you week 17 of the NFL season - the final week of the year. The game in question, Prime Time 8pm NBC: Eagles vs. Washington Football Team with Washington’s hopes at the playoffs alive with a win over the birds. The Eagles… supposedly were looking to be spoilers; or so we thought.
Generally speaking… when we have a team fighting to make ‘post season’ facing an opponent who’s already been eliminated and has nothing to lose, that team will look to play spoiler in any way possible. A real, “Well if I’m not going to the dance, you shouldn’t either.” This being a battle of 2 NFC East (Least)rivals, you’d think that the idea of ruining the Washington Football Team’s season would be enough bulletin board material for the Eagles to show up and play their hearts out! Now, of course myself being a Giants fan… I was hoping for that - since well… if the Eagles won, the Giants at 6-10 find themselves hosting a playoff game against Tom Brady and the Bucs. However this was my mistake, needing to rely on a team from the garbage city of Philly to hold the Giants fate in their hands!
My high hopes were not looking to good right from the start. The Eagles basically made it known from the jump that they didn’t want to win this game. Starting a bunch of names no one’s ever heard of on defense and with Miles Sanders out, they didn’t even dress Alshon Jeffery or Carson Wentz! The Eagles were basically telling everyone before the game, “Hey guys, we know we’re picking 6th and we’re totally cool with that.” Game time happens with a few touchdown drives by Jalen Hurts, and not a terrible performance by the Eagle ‘no-name’ defense. It had seemed that our hopes as Giants fans of seeing the post season were starting to look like a real possibility. Yea sure, they may have gotten stomped out by Tom Brady and the Bucs; but it would have been refreshing to see a Giants team playing on wild card weekend and not golfing instead. We get to the 4th quarter, it’s a 3 point game - the Eagles very much having the ability to be those spoilers; but Doug Peterson had other things in mind. He decided that at a very winnable moment of the game, he was going to pull his clearly successful, and possibly new starting Quarterback for the foreseeable future, Jalen Hurts for… Nate Sudfeld. Essentially, this action was equivalent to throwing up the white flag and asking for his MISERABLE team to be put out of its misery! Wouldn’t they have rather gone out fighting and trying to end the season on a winning note… you know, like we were led to believe is the motivation for every team. Good old Dougie Peterson didn’t see it from the fan perspective… he didn’t keep his eyes on a win. Why? He was too busy getting ready for mock draft season and who the Eagles were going to pick at 6 - because he knew before the game even started that they were going to lose.
Obviously, I can’t tell you definitively that Doug Peterson was looking at his draft stock when he was making his in game decisions. What I can tell you though, is there is NO way you can convince me he made decisions that put his team in the best position to win the Football game. Look, in the long run - a higher draft pick for them is probably the right move. They weren’t going anywhere and at 6 - should absolutely have a good spot to land a game changing player. So as a move for the future, yea that was probably a loss that they’re willing to take; but don’t come to me and pretend I’m stupid. Please don’t come to me saying you were trying to win a game that you very obviously decided you were going to mail in. Don’t tell me you care solely about winning, when you’re pulling your starter from a 3 point game in the 4 quarter… because when you’re running to the podium to announce the pick of Devonta Smith or Micha Parsons! We’ll all remember that you came to the dark side, the fan side of thinking. The thinking that the NFL would consider a compromise to the competitive integrity of the game… that maybe a win isn’t always best for the team’s future.