Summary of Wade Phillips' press conference this afternoon.
We still have a long injury list, guys that are banged up. Some new ones, Tra Battle has a hamstring strain, Bobby Carpenter has a calf strain. Keith Davis had an impingement of the shoulder but came back and played. Alan Ball has a slight ankle sprain, Tony Romo has a back contusion, Roy Williams is playing thru the foot injury, Jason Witten has a slight ankle sprain. I'm proud of the way they played after whatever turmoil there was or wasn't this week, they came together and played well. A game we needed, we had to win and they cam through. On offense, Tashard Choice had 91 yds. rushing and a TD, another really good game, especially with Marion Barber limited. Deon Anderson had a good game blocking, caught a TD pass and led in special teams tackles, he's getting better and better on special teams. Nice to see Patrick Crayton make a big play for a TD. The offensive line award went to Cory Procter who played the best on the offensive line, it was important against Justin Tuck.
On defense, what more can you say about DeMarcus Ware, 19 sacks and he should've had 20, he ran the QB out of bounds earlier in the year and they gave the sack to Zach Thomas, so he should have 20. He's approaching the record and plays the run well, a great player. We moved him around, the offense has to identify him and turn the line towards him, then we come from the other side and it gives those guys a chance, we have been able to take advantage. Greg Ellis had a good game. The combination of Anthony Spncer on regular defense and Ellis as the pass rush specialist is working, he had 2 sacks and other pressures. Chris Canty had a big game also, the last 4 or 5 games he's made a big difference in the defensive line play. More the disruptive player we thought he would be earlier in the year. Terence Newman can blame his game on the coaches, he had 2 INT's, an outstanding game, we the coaches will be accountable for that. (laughter) We can utilize him, put him on a WR like a shut-down corner once we got other corners healthy and got him healthy. Some of the sacks were because they couldn't throw the ball to an open WR. That game is over, we start on the Ravens today. We'll have a practice today and go through the Ravens.
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(Do you have any healthy safeties?) We've got safeties that are banged up, all of them. Ken Hamlin came in and played without practice and played well. Davis went out and came back in, Battle is banged up, we're taping things together with some guys but they're troopers and they play. Hamlin is a little better this week, Davis I think will be better with the leg, he had a stinger but should be fine.
Tony Romo showed how good he is. He's a tough player, mental toughness, not just physical. Every time he's not had a good game he comes back and plays well the next week. He works hard, he's dedicated to being a great player and teammate. (Did you think he might not go back in after the injury?) I thought he was going to go back in, he didn't go out when he broke his finger in Arizona although I wish he would have because he couldn't throw the ball, but he's going to play.
Marion Barber feels fine today. A little sore but better than last week, he didn't go backwards.
The defense went through those tough games earlier when the defense had to play and play well, I think we got mentally tougher then. They found out they might have to win games, the team was dependent on the offense, the defense at some point stepped up and said we can win games, we can be as good as the offense. We had good defense last year but we've improved.
(Can Ware get the sack record?) I don't know, he could get the record, if the QB's lay down and let him, if we can get a few of those. (laughter) The teams we're playing don't get sacked a whole lot but neither did the Giants. He draws double-teams and chips. When we've established other team can't run the football early on us, once you realize that they can't run you can take more chances, attack more, make certain calls where they pass-rush and react to the run instead of the other way around. We had a good rush last year and we improved. It's outstanding that Ware has gotten to the point to threaten the record. If only one guy can rush they will stop him, like having only one WR, but we got a few guys that can rush so they pay attention to all of them.
You don't see ILB's like Bradie James get that many sacks. Karl Mecklenberg at Denver was good but he played DE in the sub-packages and got more that way. Never had a guy play only ILB that got to the QB like Bradie. He's not free on those, he's one-on-one with running backs and uses good technique and gets by them, he studies them, how they block, do they try to cut him or whatever.
Being in the same defense, same coaches, you get to know the system and it helps. If you keep changing it's a problem, sometimes you have to get new players, I'd rather just keep the same coaches. (grin) Pittsburgh has had the same defensive coordinator for a long time, Tampa has also, if you can be in that situation you can gear to that. We're always evaluating what we're doing and we did that in the middle of season, what direction to go, it changes with personnel, it depends on who you have. We've played more man-to-man and that helped us, but we needed healthy guys, like Newman. This is the best our defense has played. We challenge our defense to outplay the other defense. My approach is play better, if they hold us to 9 we hold them to 8.
(What effect did the turmoil last week have?) I don't know, I just thought we focused on the game and got ready to play. We did some talking among ourselves. The performance is the key and they played together and played well. The bickering Bills went to four straight Super Bowls, I'm not sure turmoil affects you that much, it didn't us this week. The media did a great job of bringing us together. You'll come up with something this week. (laughter) Winning is the #1 cure-all. Lose and there will be something, that's human nature. I thought it was blown out of proportion. When you win you still got to be the same way, come back with determination. Just because we're on a good streak it won't continue unless you do something about it.
What we wanted to do this year was play more man coverage when we added the CB's we did. We drafted two, one in the first round and a fifth-round guy that is a heck of a player, they can run and cover, then Pacman came in, we wanted to utilize speed and quickness. But we had injuries early but that's what we want use, that type of coverage. It just depends on the players you have. We had good zone-players when I was in New Orleans but here we got man-players.
(Is it the pass rush or pass coverage responsible for the sacks?) Chicken or egg, it's a combination. We teach good pass rush first, it can be taught, we can teach them to get better, we can't teach them to be Ware, but guys can get better. A lot does have to do with coverage. With a better pass rush they keep in more guys to block, we're seeing 7-man protection against 4-man rushes. Outside backers in the 3-4 is key, it depends on who you have there.
I think Tashard Choice has earned more playing time; we weren't ready to make that step earlier in the year. We now got three backs, we still got a lead-dog but the other guys, including Felix, it's a pretty good combo. Felix showed so much early, averaged 8-9 yards a carry and ran back a kickoff for a TD, he was outstanding so he took the second back role. It's hard to throw rookies in there but we started that with Felix. Tashard was behind him, but once he got his chance he showed he could do it. He has good acceleration, not breakaway speed, but he has good vision and acceleration through the hole, he's proven that and opened our eyes. He has really good vision and makes the right choices. (silly grin/groan on the pun)