The statement was a declaration of war.
Actually, it was a big ol’ gift-wrapped present to the Dallas Cowboys.
Doug Pederson did not merely predict victory.
He said his Philadelphia Eagles are going to travel to AT&T Stadium and beat their archrivals on Sunday night. In primetime. On national TV. Playing for first place in the NFC East.
“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 said Monday in his weekly radio appearance. “We control our own destiny. We’re right where we need to be.”
Gasoline, meet fire.
The Eagles and the Cowboys limp into their first 2019 showdown equally disappointing at 3-3.
Maybe Pederson is confident. More likely, he is just trying to psych up his own team after a rather dismal loss to the Minnesota Vikings and a lackluster opening six games.
The problem with such maneuvers? They tend to incite the opponent even more. And Dallas could use a little rallying given its rash of injuries and following an inexplicable loss to the Jets — the formerly 0-4, mono-afflicted Jets.
So why would the coach of the Eagles resort to such often self-defeating mindgames?
Only the Visor knows.
Of course, the Eagles can win this game. But their coach just made it a little harder for them. And he did it a week after their now-former linebacker Zach Brown made it harder for the team to beat the Vikings with an ill-advised comment.
However, the Cowboys might not have any star players available to actually show up and play, considering their injury report. So there’s that.
Here’s the other need-to-know news around the NFC East this week.
So just how big is this game Sunday night against the Eagles?
Well, it’s a must-win, at least if you ask Blogging the Boys’ One Cool Customer.
(Yeah, we don’t know either.)
But with quite a bit of math and some rather funky-looking charts, OCC declares, “They are facing the most important game of the season in terms of their playoff odds. Win and their playoff odds get a significant big boost. Lose and their odds drop to 15%.”
OCC, please call me when you try to explain this to Jerry Jones.
But take heart, Cowboys fans: Dallas started 3-5 last season and still made the playoffs. (I didn’t see that in the charts.) Oh, and the Eagles would be just one game ahead — with another game against the Cowboys in December — even if they do win.
But yeah, charts.
However, DeMarcus Lawrence, for one, somewhat agrees with OCC’s take.
As the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end put it, “Our backs are against the wall. It’s time to show what we’re made of.”
(It’s a little catchier than charts, no?)
But even more foreboding than OCC’s math was the list of Cowboys who did not practice Wednesday. We’ll just highlight the difference-makers:
Basically the entire offensive line and Amari Cooper.
We exaggerate. The Cowboys merely were without LT Tyron Smith (ankle), RT La’el Collins (knee) and C Travis Frederick. Cooper (thigh) and fellow WR Randall Cobb (back) also were absent.
The good news was Frederick is not injured, just taking a physical health day.
Dallas also placed DE Tyrone Crawford on injured reserve this week with a season-ending hip issue. It then signed DL Justin Hamilton, who was among the Kansas City Chiefs’ final preseason cuts.
Pederson was back at it on Wednesday, but not to make another prediction.
Instead he announced LT Jason Peters (knee) is “week to week.” That leaves first-round pick Andre Dillard to start, Bleeding Green Nation’s Alexis Chassen reports.
If I’m rather breakable QB Carson Wentz, I would have preferred my coach not fire up the Cowboys when a rookie will be watching my blind side. But that’s just me.
Pederson also said the release of Brown, the loud-mouth linebacker, stemmed from his lack of production, not his rather negative perception of former teammate, Kirk “Kurt” Cousins. The Visor explained the decision also allows younger players such as T.J. Edwards and Duke Riley more playing time.
That’s a good thing, because if people who said dumb things in public that could rally an opponent were to be fired…
Offensive coordinator Mike Groh did some talking of his own on Wednesday, but surprisingly, he did not announce that his receivers stink. He did say he wasn’t too bothered by TE Zach Ertz’s lack of production and remains excited about rookie WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, despite his small role thus far in 2019.
Wentz also had some things to say, and you know what he knows? The rivalry with Dallas “is real.”
And what did he think about Pederson’s prediction?
“We always talk about win the day, win the practice, win each week,” Wentz said. “So, that’s just the mindset and culture that we have, and that’s no different every week.”
Now there’s a guy who knows how to stay off a bulletin board.
Oh, and the Eagles are pretty banged up too you know. Peters, Fletcher Cox, DeSean Jackson, Nigel Bradham, Avonte Maddox, Timmy Jernigan and Darren Sproles did not practice Wednesday.
However, CB Ronald Darby (hamstring) returned to practice and so did CB Jalen Mills (foot), who has been sidelined for nearly a full calendar year. Welcome back, Jalen.
Bill Callahan, NFL coaching lifer, accidentally summed up the Washington condition in answering a fairly innocuous, short term-focused question this week.
“We’re all trying to get better,” he said.
You just keep trying, Bill.
Maybe one day.
But then Callahan ruined it by claiming “I’m seeing enough to stick with Case Keenum at quarterback.”
Time for a new prescription if that’s what you see, Bill.
As our friends in DC know, when it rains, it pours. And sometimes it hails (and not to the victors). Such a day came Wednesday, when former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (2010 to 2013) was asked what the best part of his tenure in Washington was.
”Being able to work with my dad [Mike] and be around some other good coaches,” he said.
And the worst part?
”Everything else,” Shanahan said.
Hey, some good news from our friends at Hogs Nation! Landon Collins was honored as the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. (He’s still not talking to Dave Gettleman.) But it came in beating the Miami Dolphins, so it’s really just a participation trophy.
Our old friend Bill-In-Bangkok checks in with another feel-good story: WR Terry McLaurin nominated (again) for Rookie of Week. At least DC has one good player.
And we leave you with this, again courtesy of Bill-In-Bangkok, who breaks down Washington’s upcoming game against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers:
“Washington is going to need to minimize penalties, win the turnover battle, and get pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo,” B-I-B informs us. “Beyond that, Kevin O’Connell is going to have to equal Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling abilities, dialing up a creative offensive scheme at home this week.”
Whatever they smoke in Bangkok must be premo stuff.