Pederson Projecting Confidence, Not Offering Guarantees
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Days after Zach Brown gave Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings some unnecessary bulletin-board material, Eagles coach Doug Pederson offered the Dallas Cowboys some of the same in advance of Sunday night's first-place battle between mediocre teams.
Appearing on a Philadelphia-area radio station for his weekly Monday morning contractual spot Pederson said: "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."
Obviously, there is no real Joe Namath-like guarantee there but many took that baton and ran with it so you can bet Jason Garrett and the reeling Cowboys, who have lost three consecutive games after starting 3-0, will use it.
Appearing at his Monday afternoon press conference after an ugly 38-20 setback in Minnesota, Pederson tried to walk back how his early-morning comments were being dissected.
"I never said that. I never said, 'Guarantee a win,'" Pederson insisted "I would never do that."
Instead, the coach explained he was just showing confidence in his team after a game in which many on the back seven of the defense are licking their wounds.
"Because it shows confidence in our football team," Pederson replied when asked about his comments. "I promise you Jason Garrett is going to say the same thing to his football team, that they're going to win the football game as well.
"I'm not going to stand up here and go on record and say, 'We're going to try to win a game ... It just doesn't show confidence, and I want to show confidence in our players."
Many of the Eagles, especially cornerbacks Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones, could use some confidence after being lit by Cousins and his star receivers, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are likely shaken as well after being handled by the previously winless New York Jets.
"I also said people on the outside of [the NovaCare Complex] are thinking the sky is falling and everything is crumbling," Pederson said. "You put the tape on this morning and you watch it, and we're just missing on a couple little detail things. There's enough good and positive that came out of this game to get better, and that's what we're going to do."
With two more games on a rare three-game road trip ahead of them Philadelphia will have an opportunity to seize control of what is shaping up to be a weak NFC East if they can solve the Cowboys, who beat the Eagles twice last season.
"Dallas is a great football team," Pederson insisted. "They're reeling like we are. They're going to come out and play hard. They always have. They beat us twice last year. We've got a lot of things stacked against us going down there."
The us-vs.-the-world mentality has worked for Pederson in the past but it would be nice if the Eagles ditch the underdog psyche for a bully one.
Sweeping the Cowboys would almost assure an NFC East title because the New York Giants and Washington Redskins are in rebuilding modes.
On the injury front, Pederson said that cornerback Jalen Mills (foot), who remains on the physically unable to perform list, is expected to practice this week, and might have a chance to play against the Cowboys. Once he starts practicing, which figures to be Wednesday, the Eagles have a 21-day window to activate Mills.
Fellow CB Ronald Darby, who has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury, is expected to "ramp his workload up a little bit, and we'll see where he's at," according to Pederson and may also practice, at least in a limited fashion, on Wednesday.
The news is not as good with receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen), who will not be able to practice Wednesday and is still in rehab mode. The Eagles offense has lacked a big-play spark without Jackson, who has been out since only toiling in a handful of plays in Atlanta during Week 2.
Two starters were also added to the injury list against the Vikings -- left tackle Jason Peters (knee) and linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle). Pederson said both are considered day-to-day but also noted the team is waiting on second opinions for both, which certainly sounds more ominous.
If Peters can't play in Dallas, rookie first-round Andre Dillard would replace him as he did in Minnesota while Nate Gerry is first in line to take over Mike duties for Bradham.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen