Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett Conference Call with New England Media
(On facing the Patriots this Sunday)
"I think it starts with having the right kinds of guys on your team. There is no shortage of motivation around here. The guys want to win, the guys want to work hard every day and get better individually and collectively. We're excited about the challenge we face each and every Sunday. That's never been an issue with this group. We've had some injuries, but we've had some backup players come in and do a good job. We've got a great challenge this week against New England. We've just got to go play our best football."
(On Brandon Weeden taking over as the starter)
"I think Brandon has done a nice job. I think for him to go into the Philadelphia game midway through the game and for him to perform as well as he did and then I think he has done a good job executing over the last couple of weeks when he has been prepared and been our starter and played the whole game. Obviously there are plenty of things when we go back and watch the tape that he's got to improve upon, but hats everybody. I think he has done a good job getting acclimated to our system and playing with the guys and I think his poise and composure has been excellent. He has executed plays, he has made a number of big plays and little plays; he has led us on scoring drives. We all know that he's got to get better. We've all got to get better, but I think he is off to a great start."
(On the offensive line)
"Those guys, we love coaching them because they love to come to work and they want to be known as the hardest working group in football. They're real professionals, they go about it the right way, and they are always trying to get better. That is really where their focus is."
(On Marc Colombo)
"I love Marc Colombo. I had the great fortune of coaching him when he was here playing right tackle with the Cowboys. He is one of those guys that, when he retired, he and I had a number of conversations and I said, 'just tell me when you're ready. When you're ready we need you to come back here.' He's the kind of guy that you juts want on your team. Regardless of what you may or may not be doing; if you're playing football, playing baseball, you're opening up a pizza shop; you want Colombo on your side. He's just one of those guys that brings so much to the table. He's a great person, he loves football; he's got a great passion for the game. He's learning how to coach and he is brining a lot of his expertise as a coach to the table as he is learning about coaching. It's great to have him with us."
(On his impressions of the Patriots)
"I think they are a great football team. They are obviously very well coached. They just do a fantastic job coaching their football team to win football games each and every week. Obviously they have some great, great players. Their quarterback is outstanding. He runs their offense as efficiently and as well as any quarterback does in the National Football League. He juts does such a good job getting the ball to the right guy at the right time; they attack you so many different ways. Defensively they do a really good job affecting the quarterback, affecting what other teams do well. They just play at a very high level throughout their team. Their special teams make a ton a plays in every game. They challenge you in so many different ways and they play at a very high level."
(On Jason Witten)
"He has been a great player for a long time. One of those guys that you a privileged to be around and privileged to coach. He goes about it the right way each and every day. I've been around a lot of great football players, and in terms of his approach and his level of professionalism, his attention to detail and his desire to be great in everything he does; I'm not so sure I've ever been around one that's better than [Jason Witten]. We're lucky to have him. He's been a really good player for a long time and he continues to go strong."
(On Greg Hardy's comments regarding Tom Brady)
"Typically we try to keep things ion house here with the Cowboys. Greg is excited to be playing. Sometimes things come out of your mouth when you are excited I think he has an understanding that it is more important to define yourself as a player more than anything else. I think he will learn from those comments and the reaction to them. I don't think it was anything – there was no bad intent by any means. I think he is just excited to get back to playing football."
(On whether Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain can play a full game after being away for four weeks)
"Both those guys practiced today, so we'll see how they handled the work and then we'll determine what their workload on Sunday will be based on how they do the rest of the week."
(On Sean Lee's impact and whether he can play Sunday)
"Sean is a really good player and is off to a really good start this year. We lost him in the game the other night against New Orleans. You feel the impact of a guy like that when he is playing, and you certainly feel it in his absence. He came out of the game okay and he seemed like he was doing well. We'll take him day-by-day as he goes. Obviously he won't play in the ball game if he is not ready to go. He is really good leader, he is a really good player and he has had a big impact on our team. We'll take it day-by-day and see what his availability is come Sunday."
(On the PAT being moved back to the 15 yard line)
"It seems like we have missed some extra points and some field goals across the league. We all knew that the percentage of making the extra points would go down a little bit juts based on what the statistic shave been through the years of a PAT from the two yard line versus one from the 15 yard line. I think everyone is getting acclimated to that, and the kicking game is obviously a critical part of the game. Everybody takes it very seriously and those points are valuable. It's certainly something that we place a great deal of emphasis on and we feel fortunate that have our kicker in Dan Bailey who has been good for awhile now."
(On the kicker's impact on a game)
"It is such a big part of the game. Those points are valuable. To have a guy that you have a great deal of confidence in to put in any situation to help you win a ball game, that's really reassuring; not only to me but to our coaching staff and to our entire football team. We are fortunate with Dan that he is such a professional and he is always working hard to play at the highest level. We try to create a good environment for him because we understand what he has done for our football team."
Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden Conference Call with New England Media
(Thoughts on Patriots defense from what you've seen on film)
"They're solid. You can tell what we all expected. They are well coached, they play their scheme and they have really good players. They play hard, they're well disciplined, they are just a very sound, well-coached good defense. They have various looks and try to get guys matched up on the right guy. They're just very good; a good solid defense."
(Did you face them with the Browns?)
"No I didn't. I got a concussion the week before and didn't even make the trip to Foxboro."
(As a backup becoming the starter, does anything change?)
"Around here, a lot of people make a big deal about me taking the Wednesday reps when Tony [Romo] would take Wednesdays off. Rightfully so; it's kind of unique. My message was always, "It absolutely helps," but I think playing on Sundays, getting out there and getting in games, being in the lights, when the pressure is really on, that's the only thing that prepares you to play in this league at this position. Now that I have two starts under my belt, the preparation throughout the week, knowing how to go about it in meetings and walkthroughs, it's a little different mindset for me. Trying to get back on the right track."
(On the emotions of last week's loss and not getting a chance on offense in overtime)
"It was a tough situation. Unfortunately that's how the rules are structured as far as the overtime rules. The frustrating part is that we didn't get the opportunity to go down and get the ball back and try to score. Especially after the way we finished it, four minutes on our own nine-yard line and put together a pretty good little drive to go down and tie the thing up. That was the most frustrating part. Just never getting the opportunity to get the ball back."
(Is this a second chance in terms of your career?)
"Yeah, I think so. I went to Cleveland, and obviously it was tough there. We had a tough go at it. A lot of variables, a lot of things went wrong. There's no need to point fingers, that's in the past, and it's over. I learned a lot from it. I came into this situation and knew it was going to be a good situation for me. One, being behind a guy like Tony and being in this system with a great staff with a lot of quarterbacks. Coach Garrett is a former backup quarterback so he can relate, and he really has a lot of good information as well. This is an opportunity that we all want. We all want an opportunity to go out and play and be a starter and be a good player on a good football team. I have a good football team around me, and that's the nice thing. I have a lot of weapons. Even a little dinged up, we still have some good players around me to hopefully try to make a successful offense."
(On any good stories on Jabaal Sheard while in Cleveland together)
"I don't know if I have anything good (stories) about Jabaal. He was always real quiet, a super quiet guy. A super nice guy. I don't have anything good for you guys. He would always walk around with a sweatshirt with a hood on. He had the dreads, but just a pro. He went about his business and didn't say a whole lot. He worked his tail off, and when it came to Sunday, he was ready to go. He played his tail off and was a good player for us."
(On being the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys)
"It's definitely different than anywhere I've been. Honestly, I pretty much go straight from here home. I have a 15-month old son, so I don't really get out in public a whole lot. I'm putting him down so early, and that's probably a good thing. I understand what all comes with being the quarterback off this franchise. You look back and years and years and years there's a lot of high profile, Hall of Fame guys. I always compare, with the Yankees, and my brother was with the Red Sox, it's like backing up Derek Jeter in New York. There's a lot of stuff that comes with it. If you ask a lot of those guys that stepped into those roles, you try and tune it out as much as possible because the situation is already big enough as it is. It's already hard enough to play in this league as it is, and if you get mesmerized by what comes with this position, the pressure that comes with this position, you'll be so overwhelmed that you can't even go out and function Sunday. You just try to tune it out as much as possible and have fun with it. The expectations for me - Tony Romo has been doing this for a long time at a high level, a Pro Bowl type guy, he can do a lot of things I cannot do, but I have a lot of abilities myself in throwing the football. Just go out, take the pressure off myself and have fun, execute and play ball."
(On fighting through injuries)
"A lot of the credit should be to Coach Garrett. Coach Garrett does a great job of delivering a consistent message. It's always the next man up like it is around every other sport, his message is maintain the belief in the guys around us. We've had some big injuries, there is no way else to put it. You lose guys like we've lost, and it's pretty hard to overcome at times. The good thing is that we have guys that have been around here, that have played a lot of snaps in this league, and we are going to rely on those guys more than ever. These young guys are going to come in and make a play here and there to make a difference. Is it an ideal situation? Absolutely not, but there's 31 other teams across the league that have to battle this situation on a weekly basis. For us, it's just next man up, and go play ball."
(On the drive at the end of the New Orleans game)
"It was an all or nothing situation. We were down seven. Either we go down and score or they are going to take the air out of the ball. I knew I had to make a couple of throws, a couple of big throws, and I had to make a couple of plays. We had a couple of nice plays drawn up to what they were doing coverage-wise. We were able to hit them. I don't think I was any more free or relaxed or anything else. I was just still focused like I was; we had some guys that won some one-on-one matchups and hit them for some big plays."
(On the Patriots secondary)
"We all know what Malcolm Butler did in the Super Bowl, and that play kind of defined him, it doesn't define him but showed what he's all about. He's a hard-nosed gritty player, just competes his tail off. He's a good player. Logan Ryan has been around there for a little bit. There's a lot of guys, Patrick Chung and [Devin] McCourty and those guys that are veteran guys and have played at a high level. We played against [Bradley] Fletcher when he was in Philly. They are all good players. You look on tape and they just compete. They play hard, they play good technique and they play whatever coverage they are doing. They dictate and play well. They are all on the same page and communicate well it looks like. It's going to be another good challenge for us.
Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett Press Conference with dallas media
(On whether Greg Hardy has become the right kind of guy since he has been in Dallas)
"Like everybody, we are all a work in progress. We are trying to be the right kind of guy each and every day of our lives."
On what Hardy has been like since he has been with the team)
"He has come in and he has worked hard. There is no question about that. He jumped right into the offseason program and demonstrated that he wanted to work each and every day to get better to try and help our team. He put in a very good training camp. He worked hard every day to get better over the course of training camp. He has been away from us for four weeks, but now he is back and we are excited to have him out there on the practice field today."
(On the expectation level for a guy who has not played for the last 19 regular season games) – "We'll just take it day-by-day. We'll see how he does in practice today and make our evaluations on him and everybody else as we go. We're hopeful that he can play in the game this week. We'll see how he handles the work today and we'll build on that."
(On potentially limiting Hardy's and Rolando McClain's snaps) - "I think we just have to watch them. We have to watch how they handle the work in practice and make determinations about how much they play by the end of the week."
(On whether having Hardy there will help the guys around him become better players) – "Like anything on your team, the more better players you have, the better it is for everybody. We all feed off of each other and that is certainly the case on the defensive line. Often times one guy will get more attention than others and that will allow for some single blocks for some other guys or some other opportunities both to defend the run and rush the passer. The more good guys you have out there, that helps everybody."
(On whether the timing of the return of Hardy and McClain is good considering the defense has not been as sharp the last two games)
"I think what we try to emphasize more than anything else is controlling what we can control. We anticipate both Rolando and Greg will be back this week. We'll see what they do each and every day and we anticipate them helping our team. The other guys that have been playing for us, we have to be accountable for that performance as well. Each of us, players and coaches, have to get better every day. That's really where our focus is. It's certainly good to get players back. We are excited to see those guys back on the practice field, but again we are all trying to get better and take advantage of the opportunities that we have."
(On whether Randy Gregory and Sean Lee will practice today) – "I don't anticipate those guys practicing."
(On whether Hardy can duplicate what Orlando Scandrick did last year by playing the majority of snaps after coming off a suspension and if it helps that the defense rotates their defensive linemen)
"I don't know that there is a big difference. It's just a matter of seeing how the guys do. We'll take it day-by-day this week. We're excited to get them out here on Wednesday and we'll give them a certain amount of work and see how they handle it. I don't know that you want to make these generalizations about guys. I think you want to look at each situation individually and make your best judgments going forward."
(On whether he is concerned that McClain hasn't received any reps since the end of last season)
"It is a challenge. This is pro football – this is the NFL. You don't just roll out there and play, but he is working hard. Rolando has been with us for the first four weeks of the season, so he has been in meetings, he has been conditioning on his own. We are excited to get him back out there. He is a good football player. He has good instincts and feel for the game, so we do feel he will pick things up quickly. Again, we will watch him day-by-day and hopefully get these guys ready to play this week."
(On whether Brandon Weeden's confidence has grown based on some of the things he has done in the games he has started) – "I think like with any player, the more you play hopefully the more confident you get. You have experiences in games – some of these experiences are good, some aren't good - but you learn from them and you go forward. I think he has handled himself very well. He is prepared when he goes into the game; I think he has good poise and composure during the game. He has made some plays, but I think there are some plays he would like to have back, but that is nature of the NFL for everybody at every position. I think he responded well to those adversities and juts kept playing. I thought the drive at the end of the game in New Orleans was a really important drive for him and our team. He made a lot of big throws, made a critical fourth down throw for a touchdown. Again, the more you play, if you go about it the right way, you learn from your experiences and the better you are going to get. He has certainly done that."
(On whether he anticipates any changes to the running back rotation)- "Not really, except that Lance (Dunbar) isn't going to be with us."
(On how Byron Jones has done defending tight ends this year and the challenge that he has this week)
"It is our challenge. [Rob]Gronkowski is a really good football player, and we would never just put one guy on him. We have to try and slow their offense down a lot of different ways. He is a big part of their offense. Just speaking towards Byron, he has done a really good job. He is a young player, he hasn't been in a lot of these situations yet, but he was both a safety and a corner in college. He is a very good athlete. He is a mature guy and he hasn't shied away from anything, whether it is a rep against a really good player in training camp or opportunities in the first part of the season, he always goes at it 100 percent. He is not tentative; not shy. He is a physical player and he's got some ability. He's learning as he goes, but I think he is capable of doing a lot of different things and I think his approach has been really good."
(On Coach Belichick's ability to take away what opposing offenses do best)
"He does everything as well as any coach really probably has ever done in this league. That's one of the many strengths that he has. They do a great job game planning in all three phases and they do a great job of putting their team together to play the way they want to play. They have been really good for about 15 years now, and there have been a lot of different faces, different coaches and player come through there, but he is the constant. In really every aspect of coaching, he does it at the highest level. Let's start with that premise. Every week, teams are trying to take things away from you. When you have really good players, defenses want to take Dez Bryant out of it, they want to take [Jason] Witten out of it, they want to take away your running game; they want to make sure they don't let Terrance Williams get going, they want to affect your quarterback. I think that is a constant thing week-in and week-out, and different teams will try to do it different ways. It's the level of execution that the players have in doing those things that really is the magic. They have done that as well as anybody, but the idea that we are going to take something that you do away from you is not unique to the New England Patriots."
(On the reason for the discrepancy between the rushing totals in the first and second halves of games this year)
"I don't know that there is one reason. If there is one thing you will know about me, it's that there is always a combination of factors. It's never one cause and effect. You probably can go back and look at each of the games and the different situations we were in during each of the ball games in the second half - maybe we threw it more in some games. I think you can look at specific plays, specific players. It's probably not the same plays and the same players. Those are all things that contribute to that. We have to run the ball better early in the game, we have to run the ball better in the middle of the game, we have to run the ball better at the end of the game."
(On whether the discrepancy is a troubling trend in his eyes)
"I think as much as anything else we are trying to get better in the beginning, middle and end of the game in all phases of our team. That is certainly a part of it."
(On whether he thinks Tom Brady will ever show signs of age)
"He really is an amazing player. If you think about him playing at that level for the last 15 years, and maybe playing as well as he has ever played right now, it's amazing. He doesn't show any signs of getting older physically. He moves around as well as he has ever moved around; he throws as well as he has ever thrown it, his understanding of the game has always been really, really, really high and I think it's probably the highest right now. He has a great command of what they want to do; he has a great command of what opposing defenses are trying to do to him. He makes adjustments within plays, within series, within games always putting their team in situations where they can be successful. I always hold him in the highest regard."
On whether anything has struck him about Matt Cassel now that he has been around for a couple of weeks)
"Good football player. Good experienced quarterback who has played a lot in the league. He is diving into our culture here with the Cowboys and trying to embrace it and learn things as quickly as he can. It's good to have him on our team."
(On whether Cassel will be the number two quarterback this week)
"I don't know that yet."
(On how he would assess the defense has closed games in the fourth quarter this season)
"I think we have done a good job in a couple of games and we haven't done a good job in a couple other games."
(On whether he uses examples like the batted ball at the end of the Monday night game to explain rules to the team)
"I think we are always trying to do that. We spend a lot of time on situational football in practice, in our walkthroughs, all through training camp and during the season. There are often times great examples from around the league that you can use. You can use it on film or use it in a walkthrough type session to explain what happened, explain what the thought process might be for the players and the coaches in those situations and certainly what rules are involved and how they apply and how we can respond the right way. I think you are always trying to use those as opportunities to help your team get better and help them understand the game better."