Eagles at Cowboys: What's Dallas' Proper Response to Philly's 'We Will Win' Promise?
ARLINGTON – The Dallas Cowboys have a culture cultivated in large part by head coach Jason Garrett, an even-keel boss who lives by a credo: "I only concern myself with things that are within my control.''
And his Cowboys largely follow that calm path, in ways that shock RedBall's detractors. Whatever problems these 3-3 Cowboys have - and as losers of three straight entering tonight's showdown here at AT&T Stadium against the 3-3 Philadelphia Eagles, both supposed "contenders'' have problems - mutiny against this coach, at this time, is not among them.
Said QB Dak Prescott: “He has been the same guy through and through and always will be. Credit him for that. That is what you expect. The guy is a professional. He has always been that way. He knows how to lead a team. We all got his back in this locker room.”
Eagles coach Doug Pederson gave the Cowboys - each of them, individually - an invitation to express themselves as retaliation for his "bold guarantee'' of an Eagles road win today.
“We're going down to Dallas and our guys are going to be ready to play,'' Pederson said this week on Philly radio station WIP. "And we're going to win that football game, and when we do, we're in first place in the NFC East.”
Them's fightin' words ... right?
“What matters,'' running back Ezekiel Elliott said to the media as a response, "is what we go do on Sunday.''
Now, this is Zeke. The "Playful Pitbull Puppy,'' as I've labeled him. Completely capable of letting his emotions run wild. But not even Elliott will take Pederson's bait?
Nope. Not in public, anyway.
Garrett dismissed Pederson's words in his public addressing of them. But privately? Dallas' coaches and players are on social media, listen to 105.3 The Fan and read CowboysSI.com. (I assume!)
They are not unaware - nor should they be.
Nobody really knows whether "bulletin-board material' works to inspire the insulted, or works to inspire the braggart, or works at all. I know that Jimmy Johnson, a mentor to Garrett, believed in it; at old Valley Ranch, a Jimmy aide named Bruce Mays counted among his duties the weekly construction of a massive wall, right near the locker room where the players would see it daily on their way to the parking lot, of incendiary and motivational gunk that'd oozed out of the opposing city.
Some of it was fresh, like Pederson's remark is. Some of it was old, Mays digging up yellowed newspaper clippings and tacking them to the way. And some of it was flat made-up, Mays (and Johnson) trying to push every possible button.
Pederson, of course, followed up his "guarantee'' by trying to un-push the button, saying later that same day, “Can I just clear something up real quick? I never used the term or the word ‘guarantee.''
“All I was doing was showing confidence in my football team because there comes a point, especially here in Philadelphia, where you lose a game or two and everybody feels like everything’s kind of caving in on the football team.''
Putting aside the wimpy back-track ("I didn't use the word 'guarantee' sounds like something a third-grader would argue): The "confidence-in-my-team'' trick is a familiar one in Dallas, too; remember Jimmy's "Put-It-In-Three-Inch-Headlines!'' prediction of a Dallas postseason win over the Niners? And the "everything-is-caving-in'' feeling is familiar, too.
Not "especially here in Philadelphia''; "especially here in DFW,'' just as much.
“It’s all about what you do on Sunday,” guard Zack Martin said, not coincidentally sounding exactly like Zeke sounded ... almost as if it was something they are borrowing from a certain even-keeled head coach. “We try to stay away from that in our locker room because at the end of the day it’s what you do on Sunday night.”
In other words, Jason Garrett's Dallas Cowboys aren't going to taunt Pederson’s Eagles in response ... not, at least, until the scoreboard allows it.