Mancuso: Could Have Been A Eagles “Tank Job”

“Tank Jobs” is a phrase that I have heard over the years and so many times at ringside. Boxing is always known to see a so-called “Tank Job” when a fighter goes down and not from a vicious punch to the body like the one Ryan Garcia displayed Saturday to Luke Campbell in their lightweight title bout.

So Sunday night, I am watching the Eagles-Washington football game that had implications for the Giants and their postseason hopes.. Before the kickoff my best friend says the Eagles will tank because they hate the Giants.

And then it happened. The Eagles played tough with nothing on the line and had a first down from the 5 yard line and gained a yard. Down 17-14, Eagles coach Doug Pederson decided to pass up a short field goal attempt.

What followed could prompt the question, “Was this a tank job.” Starting quarterback Jalen Hurts threw incomplete on fourth down from the 4 yard line. Later, Pederson switched to his third string quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who was not the answer in the fourth quarter.

You know the end result had Giants fans livid. It also had me wondering if this was a pure “Tank Job” to prevent the Giants from winning the NFC East. Then again, no team with 6 or 7 wins deserves a division tile or spot in the NFL postseason.

Instead, Washington is the division winner at 7-9 and moves on. The Eagles also moved a few notches up in the draft order and secured a sixth round draft pick. There were more observations about the Eagles defense who left receivers wide open. That added fuel to the fire about a “Tank Job.”

Tell you the truth, I never understood the meaning of “Tank Job.” The NFL has been out of my report of sports journalism for the past 20-years. But like so many others, a Sunday here is not complete without a full day and night of the NFL.

But this one, on national television, had some suspicion whether you had an allegiance for the Giants, Eagles, or the Washington football team.

So, I asked a few experts who would know this better than me. Again, with boxing, or the MLB beat, I could answer this tank job issue without asking those who would have better knowledge of an NFL situation.

Getting a fan perspective is not objective and my best friend, a true Giants fan, was not the answer. Giants fans say their team was screwed prior to the kickoff.

Was this a “Tank Job” that I could associate with ones at ringside? Then again, please explain the definition of how a coach would allow his team to tank a game?

Sam Garnes, the Bronx native and 5th round draft pick of the Giants, later played for the Jets, said it was all about the coaching and decisions. He would not rule out the Eagles tanking,

“I’m a Giants guy,” Garnes said Monday. “A lot of teams don’t make the playoffs at 6-10. If you don’t make the playoffs you can’t blame other teams.”

Garnes has been on the opposite side of games that meant nothing or something on the final day of the season.

But when asked about the Eagles tanking that finale Sunday night, whether it be a hatred for the Giants or securing a higher draft pick, he indicated it’s speculation as to whether the owner told his coach to remove the quarterback.

“Pure guessing, you don’t know if the owner told the coach to do that, when you get to the last game.”

Was Pederson asked to put in the third stringer to take a look at him for next season? After the game, Peterson said he told his team to win the game. But who knows what was said?

Garnes said the Eagles had no right to sit down Hurts. “Those teams Washington, Eagles, most teams that play games like that usually not playing for anything sit down their players. But the Eagles had no right to sit down their quarterback. You would think the first half they would have put him (Sudfeld) in.”

Again, Garnes is not taking sides. Tanking, though, is never going to be an admission as that would become a league matter and subject to investigations. As Garnes said, all of this talk Monday would be nothing had the Giants won two of three games in December.

“When a coach sits out a player it’s not a good feeling,” he said. “I’ve been in a situation where you never want to put your faith in someone else’s hands.”

Forget about tanking. Next year when the Eagles and Giants meet, the rivalry will be more intense, especially if the fans are back.

I asked Scott Engel, a veteran football analyst and writer with the CBS Sports wagering site about what was on the line for gamblers. There are the point spreads and the millions of dollars wagered on NFL game, though that issue did not come into play here.

Said Engel, “The Giants and their fans have no reason to complain If they wanted to win the division. They only won six games. Players don’t want to tank. That’s how players feel. If anything point your eyes at the coaching staff. Pederson wanted to give some guys a chance to play.”

Yes, it was a meaningless game for the Eagles, but who are we to determine what the thinking was prior to the Eagles taking the field. Higher draft picks, hatred of the Giants?

“If a team rests a starter for the playoffs that’s accepted,” Engel said. This is highly unusual but became controversy because the Giants did not go to the playoffs. The Giants have to blame themselves.”

Engel defended the Eagles not going for the field goal and taking the gamble on fourth down.

Regardless, the Giants and their fans will look at this when the two teams meet again in September or when the dates are set for the new schedule of 2021.

To the experts, it is highly unlikely this was a “Tank Job” as much as I believe it was. My buddy, who lives and dies with the Giants, believes it was, regardless if his team had made the playoffs and won the division with a 7-9 record.

Then again, I’m a boxing guy. I am used to hearing and witnessing the accusations of a “Tank Job.”

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso YouTube “Sports With Rich” Like, Comment, Subscribe.

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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