FRISCO, Texas —The NFC East jabs are flying.
First, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said, amid a 23-minute press conference Thursday, that his team is going to win this weekend at Washington.
“I’m confident in that,” McCarthy said. “We’re clearly planning on going to Washington to win the game. There’s no doubt about that.”
His players built off that energy, running back Tony Pollard saying McCarthy was spicing up the room while quarterback Dak Prescott responded: “[Expletive], yeah.”
Meanwhile, Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera demurred at the tactic. He addressed McCarthy’s comments with his players as an attempt to “get in our head” and told them: “That’s interesting. It’s not important.”
In a Thursday interview aired with NBC Washington, Rivera went further.
“I think that’s the big mistake,” Rivera said. “He’s now made it about him and what he said. It’s not about his players anymore. I think that’s the big mistake. That’s why to me you don’t do those things. What you do is you focus in on, you get ready and you play football.
“We show up on Sunday and see what happens.”
McCarthy, on Friday, reiterated his confidence in 8-4 Dallas’ chances at 6-6 Washington. A win would improve Dallas’ division lead to three games and far more comfortable. McCarthy believes in his team’s talent, health and preparation. And he believes Rivera’s response suggests it was lost in the context of McCarthy discussing his team’s immediate goal to win at Washington alongside their big picture areas of improvement.
“It’s irrelevant what anyone thinks about what I said in here yesterday,” McCarthy said Friday morning. “I was talking about my team. I always coach my own team. That’s where I’m at with it.
“We have great confidence with what we’re trying to do. It was an honest answer to a question from a great group of people.”
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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, always eager for the spotlight, said he would be “shocked” if McCarthy couldn’t confidently guarantee a win. The extra energy to vocalize those beliefs reflect a coach emerging from a 10-day quarantine due to COVID-19, Jones said.
“He’s raring and ready,” Jones told Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan. “He’s been pinned up and that’s reflected in his demeanor as well as how he’s articulating his feeling. We, as a franchise, we as the Cowboys, we put it out there. We know we do. We ask folks to look at us, be interested in us, follow us. We know a bunch of people look at us because they’d like to see us lose. That’s sport. That creates excitement
“I like all this kind of additional color to the interest in this game.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein