TANKGATE: Eagles star Miles Sanders and Teammates blast decision to tank
By Ryan Messick
The NY Giants aren’t alone in their gripes that Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tanked the season finale against the Washington Football Team
NY Giants fans hate to see it. Take the quick ride down the New Jersey Turnpike and flip on 94.1 WIP, and you’ll probably hear discussion of Eagles star running back Miles Sanders leaving no doubt how he feels about head coach Doug Pederson’s decision to tank in the game against the Washington Football Team, thus costing the Giants a shot at the playoffs and igniting a controversy known as Tankgate.
"“Man, if I’m being honest, nobody liked the decision, nobody,” Sanders told 94WIP’s midday show. “That’s all I can say really. I don’t know who was the main person behind that decision. All I know is that a lot of people on the team was confused.”"
Most have attributed the decision to head coach Doug Pederson, for a few reasons.
First of all, so-called soft tanking is more acceptable league-wide. Decisions such as not dressing players like Sanders, who possibly could have played through an injury (more on that in a bit), are considered pretty standard in this situation.
But once the game starts, players and coaches are expected to try to win. Pederson made highly questionable decisions to go for it on fourth-and-goal when a field goal would tie the game, not to challenge a seemingly obviously blown call, and switching to third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld with the game on the line. Thus, Tankgate was born.
But, of course, there could have been pressure from above for Pederson to make sure he lost the game.
Sanders, who was a college teammate and remains a close friend of Giants running back Saquon Barkley at Penn State, ended the season with 867 yards and it sure seems like he would have appreciated a crack at going for 1,000.
"“With everything going on, I didn’t want to be one of the guys that was just out,” Sanders told 94WIP. “I know everybody has—some people—have legit reasons of being out for the game, but I didn’t want to be out for any reason just because it was the last game of the season and how everything went. I just wanted to go out there and ball out for my teammates for the last time this season, despite how everything went.”But I physically couldn’t go and that was definitely hard for me. Not even going to bring up 1,000 yards, but I just wanted to go out there and finish off the season with my team, for real, for real.”"
Sanders said he physically couldn’t go, but it sure sounds like he wanted to give it a try and see if he could pick up those last 133 yards.
While we’re at it, Sanders isn’t the only Eagles player who seems to be questioning the decision. Fourth round pick K’Von Wallace’s thoughts seem pretty clear from the safety’s tweet.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane also reports that two defensive players had to be held back from confronting Pederson on the sideline during the game, center Jason Kelce and another offensive starter questioned him on the move, and rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts was frustrated as well.
Could this be something that festers in the Eagles locker room? Perhaps the Giants and head coach Joe Judge will get the last laugh on this one, after all.