Coach Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones both talked to the press after yesterday's Dolphins game. Both touched on many players and themes that we have been discussing here over the last few weeks.
Coach Phillips was his usual self in dispensing praise for his players and holding back on any public criticism, but also addressed the difficulty the Cowboys face in making the roster cuts by Saturday afternoon.
Jerry Jones also talked about some of the players that stood out to him last night, believes the Cowboys have got themselves a kicker and looks forward to the start of the season against the Redskins with a pretty good bill of health.
Both Coach Phillips' press conference and the interview with Jerry Jones can be found at DallasCowboys.com, but I thought it would be worth transcribing parts of what each of them said and open it up for discussion on this board.
(Disclaimer: This recap is a very close verbatim transcript of what Coach Phillips and Jerry Jones said, but isn't vetted for total accuracy. Importantly, I have rearranged parts of what each of them said to better fit the format of this post. Occasionally, what I've typed may lose the context of something Coach Phillips or Jerry Jones said and may appear counter-intuitive. If you have questions about something from the press conference, feel free to ask in the comments or watch the presser yourself.)
Part I: Coach Phillips
General impression of the Miami game:
"I felt we played with a lot of heart and we had some guys who made some plays."
"I think our line held up pretty well overall."
"I thought we had quite a few young players that looked really good." "And really, early in the game I thought our young guys played pretty well. Looked like a lot of their [Dolphins] starters were playing." "I thought in the first [part] of the game our defensive group, our second group, played against some of their first group and they played well. There were quite a few guys that made plays. We sacked their first team quarterback twice in the first quarter and had a turnover."
"I just thought we played more like a football team should look in this ballgame, and I think the first team would have played well too, but it was good to see these guys and it was important for them to get playing time. A lot of guys that you didn’t see [before] played quite a bit and I think a lot of them stepped up."
"Our second 3rd down group was a little shaky at times. We had them in long yardage quite a few times and didn’t stop them, but other than that they did good."
David Buehler: "I think the first thing everybody saw: Our kicker came through. I mean, what a game he had. And he had to kick a field goal under pressure – no matter what you say, the last kick of the game to win the game is pressure in any game. He came through with flying colors and I think that inspired everybody on our football team."
"Yeah, I think he’s going to make the team. He was always going to be the kickoff guy – he does a pretty good job of that. It’s hard to evaluate special teams with him kicking off because he kicks it into the endzone so much. He’s kicked well in practice, he’s kicked well in the games. He didn’t have any kicks in the last ballgame, so it’s really great that it came out that he had to kick quite a few. He had some real long ones that he made – and a game winner. Those are the tests that you have to have going in, at least we’ve had those and he’s gone through them."
"All of them are pressure kicks when you haven’t been the kicker and everybody’s watching. We know that. But the last play of the game is a pressure kick. It doesn’t matter what league you’re in, or even pre-season game. Everything was on the line. He misses it, everybody’s going to be upset – he makes it, everybody’s going to be happy. That was pressure and I’m glad he came through, because we’re counting on him to do that."
Stephen McGee: "Our young quarterback played well. I don’t know where he finally ended up, but he had a couple of long drives. He had almost 300 yards passing I believe, and he looked pretty sharp."
"I think Stephen just needed to play. He hadn’t played much at this level. He got hurt last year in the pre-season. Big opportunity for him and I think he took advantage of it."
Lee/Butler/AOA: "Sean Lee certainly made some outstanding plays. Victor Butler, we saw him, he’s consistently played well. Akwasi had a good interception where he went a long way to get it. I think I could name quite a few guys that played well in the ballgame."
"[Sean Lee] has been been solid all along, he’s just been hurt for a while and didn’t get enough playing time so it’s good to see him play quite a bit. Actually, Jason Williams played good too. He did some good things for us."
Sam Hurd: "Sam did some really good things for us. You kind of expect it from him, but you’d like to see it."
Holland and Barron: "We wanted Holland an Barron to play some because they hadn’t played a whole lot. Then we were going to let the other guys play. Same way with Hatcher and Bowen. We needed those guys to be able to play the game with everybody too. It was just the situation for them and we couldn’t hold them out. And those four guys really need to play some. Not the whole game, but some, especially against their [Dolphins] top unit."
Manny Johnson: "Manny did some good things. I was glad for Manny. He’s such a hard worker. We gave him a game ball last year for getting us ready for Philadelphia, because he worked so hard at being DeSean Jackson. I was really proud for Manny that he played as well as he did."
Mat McBriar: "I thought it was a good hold by Mat McBriar on the last one. Looked like the ball was a little bit high and I thought Mat put the ball down well. McBriar has actually done a better job holding this year – he’s gotten better and better at it."
On what’s happening between now and Saturday
"We’re 0-0 and I told them that after the game and they know that, and we’ve got some hard cuts to make, it looks like to me. I thought it would be a little easier, but I think a lot of guys played well. I think a lot of them did some good things for us. I think it’s going to be very tough to cut down but it’s something we have to do."
"We challenge our players. We challenged our players to ‘give it everything you’ve got’. Don’t look back and say, boy, I didn’t [give it everything I’ve got]. Don’t not make the team because you didn’t try as hard as you could try. We saw that from a lot of guys and I was really proud of them. It’s going to be tough to cut them because of the way they played and the heart they showed."
"We evaluate from this ballgame. That’s what we evaluate overall: how did they play in the ballgame. This was the opportunity and those guys knew it. We’ll evaluate that and go from there."
"It’s hard. You’ve got to have a feel for it. You’ve got to have a feel for the guy. You don’t want to live on potential and say, ‘Hey, guy’s got potential but the other guy produces’. There’s a fine line in there as to pick the football player that fits your football team. It’s the best player, but it’s also the best player for your football team. That’s a determining factor a lot of times. We don’t always know that or see that."
"I thought I had them [the 53-man roster] picked out pretty good [before the Dolphins game]. Of course Jerry and I talked about it. And Stephen. And we always say the same thing: ‘We’ve got the right to change our mind’. Right now it looks like this, and before this game it looked a certain way, but I think it’s muddled now. Which is a good thing."
On whether he feels Buehler’s performance in the pre-season vindicates his decision to go with only one kicker this year
"Every once in a while we make a right decision. It’s not usually noted, but …"
Part II: Jerry Jones
Is the team ready and what did he like about the game?
"I know our team will be ready to play out there. We’ve got these ten days, we’re going to be getting guys back, all of that’s real good. I liked the individual play that we had out there. These guys, the guys that got a chance to play tonight, they really did well."
Stephen McGee: "You’ve got to give Stephen McGee his due. Right before your eyes you could see him getting comfortable. You could see his body language. You could see all of these things happening. So I’m proud for him"
On whether McGee took himself off the bubble last night: "You’re assuming that he was on the bubble. I wouldn’t."
Crayton/Hurd and how much of a role economics play as you get down to the last few spots: "We think the world of them as individuals and we think the world of them as players – seriously. I’m not going to get into any decisions we’re going to make regarding our 53. We’re certainly in an uncapped year. We have some leeway. On the other hand we know we’re gonna have to pay the fiddler sometime. It’s always part of that in the NFL. That’s the system, and we’ve got to plan on having that system in the future.
David Buehler: "That was worth the ballgame for us to see him step up and make those kicks. We’ve got us a kicker"
Victor Butler: "Tonight I saw some guys play good. 57 was outstanding. I thought he really played well, I’m sure it’ll bear out on the tape."
Holland/Barron: "The offsides are tough, but boy am I glad we’ve got them on this team. They are very valuable to what our goals are this year."
"We’ve got some tough decisions to make there, because we can go long in some positions, whether it be linebacker or whether it be our d-linemen."
On how important a player's leadership skills are in the roster cuts: "All of those things are very, very important. We certainly know that as time has gone along, we’ve had some great leaders that moved on because they were at the end of their careers. And so what I’m excited about is a lot of the leadership that we’re seeing coming on, so that’s great."
Expectations for 2010: "It’s all about how we go out and play against those Redskins. I believe – I know we just checked it and didn’t see anything serious – but I believe we’re going to be able to go into the Redskin game about as healthy as you could hope to expect coming out of a training camp. A five week training camp. We lost Phillips but I think we’re clear with everybody else."