As bulletin board material goes, Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson seemingly inflamed an already intense match up against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night by guaranteeing a victory on his radio show Monday morning.
Never mind that the Eagles had suffered a 38-20 blow-out loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, he promised his team would reign supreme in the showdown for first place in the NFC East on the road against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
“We’re going down to Dallas, and our guys are gonna be ready to play. And we’re gonna win that football game and when we do we’re in first place in the NFC East,” Pederson proclaimed on WIP Radio.
Pederson tried to backtrack a bit when asked about the guarantee at his afternoon press conference, telling reporters he was just voicing confidence in his team and “never said guarantee a win.”
“I promise you [Cowboys head coach] Jason Garrett’s going to say the same thing with his team, that they’re going to win the football team as well,” Pederson said. “I’m not going to stand up here and go on record and say, ‘We’re going to go down there and try to win a game, or hopefully we can win this one.’ That just doesn’t show confidence, and I want to show confidence in our players.”
Garrett may tell his players something different in private.
But when asked about Pederson’s comments during his own press conference one day after his team’s 24-22 shocking loss to the New York Jets, Garrett’s response was tepid and measured.
“My response is we’re excited about the challenge,” Garrett said. “Obviously they’re a great football team and we’re going to focus on ourselves and what we need to do to prepare to play our best football on Sunday night.”
The Cowboys, riding a three-game losing streak, have already called the game against the Eagles “a must win.”
It is one that could define their season.
They didn’t need any motivation from Pederson.
And publicly, all are saying they are simply focusing on themselves and on what they need to do to get better and win the game.
“Honestly it doesn’t bother me,” cornerback Jourdan Lewis said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to come out here and try to beat us. He said it publicly? Don’t matter. We already understood there was going to be questions on it but we got to go out there, execute and win this game. Go out there and play this game.”
Will it be bulletin board material?
“We didn’t even discuss it,” Lewis said. “We got to go out there and play. We got to go out there and play with fire. We can’t talk about it anymore. Go out there as a team and be working.”
But privately, those comments will come up and possibly light a fire under a Cowboys team to open the game, offsetting a season of slow starts that have been even more acute in the current three-game losing streak.
The Cowboys have been outscored 47-9 in the first half of the last three games.
Garrett acknowledges his demeanor at the podium and on the sideline is a lot different than how is with his team behind closed doors.
He didn’t promise to turn over a table but there was going to be some fire in the meeting rooms this week.
Pederson may have only added more fuel to the flame.