The message Doug Pederson wanted to impart, he said, was that the Eagles aren’t as far away from being a really good team as their 38-20 debacle of a loss Sunday in Minnesota might have indicated, and that he has confidence and faith in his 3-3 team’s ability to bounce back this week at Dallas.
That message might have gotten drowned out by the reaction to the words Pederson chose during his weekly Monday morning radio appearance on 94WIP, Pederson saying: “We’re going down to Dallas and our guys are gonna be ready to play. We’re gonna win that football game and when we do, we’re in first place in the NFC East.”
This was interpreted as Pederson guaranteeing a victory this coming Sunday night, in a showdown between two bitter rivals who entered the season viewed as top NFC contenders, and are now struggling.
“I also said that on the outside, people really think the sky is falling and everything is just crumbling,” Pederson said during his weekly Monday noon news conference. “We’re tied for first place in the NFC East. We have a great opportunity against a great football team on Sunday night to attempt to win a football game. … You put the tape [of the Minnesota loss] on this morning and you watch it, and we’re just missing on a couple little detail things. … There’s enough good, positive that came out of this game, from that standpoint, to continue to get better. We’re going to continue to improve.”
Later in his news conference, Pederson reiterated: “When I say we’re close, we’re close, in a lot of areas. We’re playing some young guys in some spots. They’re getting better every week, and we’re going to continue to work, and we’re going to get better.”
Pederson said the Cowboys, who started out 3-0 but lost their third in a row Sunday at the Jets, are “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.
“But as the head football coach, I’m going to stand here and show confidence in our football team, because that’s what I have.”
Asked specifically if he felt he had guaranteed a victory, Pederson said: “Never said that. I never said ‘guarantee a win.’ I’d never do that.”
Pressed for further explanation of why he said “we’re gonna win that football game,” Pederson said: “I’m not going to stand up here, or go on record as saying, ‘We’re going to go down there and TRY to win a game.’ … It just doesn’t show confidence. I want to show confidence in our players.
“I promise you [Cowboys coach] Jason Garrett is going to say the same thing with his team, that they are going to win the football game, as well,” Pederson said.
Saying that to your team and saying it on the radio are quite different, as Pederson knows.
That having only one receiver on your roster qualify for the NFL’s top 50 in catch percentage (Alshon Jeffery, 49th, 24 catches, 36 targets) six games into the season could turn out to be an offensive impediment?
In his last 109 snaps, over three games, Mack Hollins has one catch, for 13 yards. Drafted at least partly for his special teams value, he no longer plays special teams, because he gets so much work in the offense.
Andre Dillard’s 47 snaps in relief of Jason Peters Sunday could have been better, as Dillard acknowledged afterward.
Dillard gave up his first NFL sack, to Danielle Hunter, in the fourth quarter. Pro Football Focus had Dillard down for nine of the 17 pressures it felt Carson Wentz faced. Nine was the most accrued by anyone in Week 6.
This was a really tough situation, on the road against a pair of elite D-ends, Hunter and Everson Griffen. The Eagles’ first-round rookie left tackle was thrown into the action abruptly.
“There were times where Andre looked really good, and then there were times when he got a little off-balance,” Doug Pederson said Monday. “We have to do some technique work with him still. … Just a young player in that atmosphere, but I thought overall he did some really good things.”
Pederson indicated that Peters, 37, who left with a knee injury after playing 18 snaps, and linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle) were “a little more day to day” than some of the more seriously injured Eagles. He spoke of sending results of tests off for second opinions.