The Dallas Cowboys probably dug themselves too deep a hole to make the playoffs even if they were to win out, but the team’s response the past two weeks since Jason Garrett was named interim head coach have nevertheless been encouraging. It’s worth tuning in to watch The ‘Boys again, and that’s a good thing.
On Sunday, Dallas defeated the Detroit Lions, 35-19, in Garrett’s home debut. On Monday, Garrett was asked a number of questions about his solid start at the helm, the team’s performance against the Lions, and his assessment of various personnel and roster situations on Dallas heading into the final six weeks of the season.
Blogging The Boys has transcribed much of the press conference. (Read BTB’s full transcription here and watch the entire presser on the Cowboys’ site here.) Below are excerpts from Garrett’s lengthy chat with the media on Monday.
Q: How does it feel to be an undefeated Head Coach?
“Let me start with this: It certainly wasn’t pretty in all areas today, but I think what we’re finding out about our football team is it’s got a lot of fight. The offense is struggling early on, the defense is picking them up, special teams are making big plays week in and week out.”
“And then the offense gets going, the defense is out there for too long and all those things. We talk about that: It’s not a question of whether or not adversity is going to happen – it’s going to happen. How do you respond to it? Individually, as a unit and as a football team, and our guys are doing that week in and week out and that’s a real positive sign for our team.”
On what McCann has meant to the team:
“Two gigantic plays. Obviously, last week he makes the huge interception in New York, and then the play he makes today, again you can describe as a game-changing play. He’s such an aware football player. He’s aware as a defensive player and certainly in the kicking game.”
“They had done a nice job trapping us down there in some of those hard-coming-out situations. And they do a very good job with their punt team, both in locating the football and then getting down there. I think it had happened earlier in the game and he was aware of it, and I think he just had it in his mind, “If that situation occurs again, I’m going to try to take advantage of it”."
How are you going to handle the short week?
“It’s quick. I told them “The World Champions are going to be here at 3:15 on Thursday”, and it’s going to happen quickly now. So where you typically have a 24 hour rule, we want these guys to enjoy this game with their family, with their friends, with their teammates. Tonight. And then we’ve got to get back to work tomorrow."
“We’ll accelerate the week. Our Monday, tomorrow, which is typically a follow-up on the game from the previous day, you’ve really got to get into starting your preparation for New Orleans. So we’ll start that.”
On Kitna and his performance:
“He has a lot of moxie, he’s a tremendous competitor. There’s a reason he’s been playing in this league for as long as he has. He’s the kind of guy you want on your football team. He’s the kind of guy you want playing quarterback for you. He’s got a lot of mental toughness; he loves to play the game. I think we’ve seen that the last couple of weeks.”
“The looks didn’t always come up cleanly, and he handled a lot of those situations very well, moving, finding a checkdown, running the football, and really just kind of making things happen.”
“We talk about making the big plays when they are available, but we also talk about making the little plays, the ones that don’t make the highlights. He made a number of those today.”
On why he ran the ball at the end of the first half with two timeouts left, which ultimately resulted in Jones’s fumble?
“When you’re coming out in that situation, you like to just say, “Take a knee”. But what would have happened there – I can’t give you the exact seconds here – but what would have happened if we had taken the knee is we would have had to punt the football. So we felt like we had to run it and really work the thing. I think the number was eight seconds. We had a run that we liked. It was a good run for us. Unfortunately they rallied to the ball and knocked it out, and obviously that was the big play in the game."
“I thought our team did a good job responding to that. Our defense fought and made it hard for them. They did score, but we came back out in the second half and said, “Hey, that’s behind us. We’ve got to go to the next thing”. I thought we did that in all three phases."
Did you talk about that play at halftime?
“We talk about the adversity thing all the time. You’ve got to keep going. It’s a 60-minute game, and it’s worth it. It’s worth it to fight hard and battle for 60 minutes.”
“There are going to be adversities, there are going to be bad plays. Those guys get paid too. They’ve got a lot of good football players on their side, they’re a very well coached football team and you’ve just got to keep on fighting through those things.”
Has Felix Jones surprised you in the last two weeks?
“No. Ever since Felix Jones got here, we’ve liked him as a football player. He’s battled through some injuries early in his career, but they were injuries that were legitimate injuries. It’s never been a question of “This guy is a space player, he can’t run tough inside”. We’ve always felt that Felix Jones could do that. We’ve had other backs that we liked. We love getting Marion the ball. We love getting Tashard Choice the football. I think Felix showed his toughness today. He got banged up a little bit and came back and wanted to be part of it at the end. That shows a lot about the kind of toughness that he has, what he feels about this football team and playing on Sunday afternoon."