Wade Phillips talked to the New York media yesterday in the weekly conference call. He answered questions on the slow start to the season, how important a win against the Giants would be and confirmed that Romo's left thumb is fine. Transcript of the call after the break.
Q: Talk about the challenge of trying to be patient when you get off to a slow start like this:
A: Well, you're not any better than your record. It's frustrating but you’ve got to keep working towards the future and not dwell on the past. You’ve got to learn from the past. It's all about attitude now. It's all about your attitude, the team staying together, pulling for each other, and believing in each other. That's the challenge.
Q: Do you get the sense that they are still together and believe in one another?
A: Oh yeah. I do. We've lost close games, you know. I think the Giants know how we feel now about three weeks ago.
Q: Despite your record, you’ve only played one division game. Do you feel the division is still pretty much wide open?
A: Well, it's still early but we are just pointing toward this game. At 1-4, you don't think about the division or anything else. All you think about it is the next ballgame and trying to win that.
Q: Expectations down there were pretty high and players are likely shocked to be at 1-4. Is that a big hurdle to overcome?
A: Yeah, it's always tough. We expect to win. The last three years, we have won more games than anybody in the NFC during the regular season, so yeah, the expectations are high and we felt like we were going to have a better team. We haven't done that so far but the season isn't over.
Q: Are there things you see on film that lead you to believe you can turn this thing around and do it pretty quickly?
A: Yeah. We're third in the NFL in offense and fourth in defense. We have outgained our opponents by about 600 yards in five games. Usually when you're moving the ball and stopping the other team, you have a chance to win. We haven't been able to do that well enough.
Q: Is Tony Romo's left thumb a problem?
A: No, no problem.
Q: It’s just a bruise?
A: Yeah, he just has a bruise. He's fine today. And it's his left hand so we won't have him throw left handed anyway. You can tell the Giants that. We'll give you that secret.
Q: When your owner comes out and sounds a little pessimistic about the rest of your season, does that make the job difficult?
A: I don't think he's said anything like that. He actually talked to the team and was really positive, so I don't know that we know anything about that.
Q: He talked to the team this week?
Q: What was the general message?
A: I don't want to get into what we're saying to our team, and so forth. I'm just saying that I thought it was pretty positive. He knows, like we all know, we had high expectations and we haven't reached that, but we still have a chance. The season is not over, and we're looking forward to this ball game. We are looking forward to winning at home, playing at home, Monday night, all the great things. We can feel better about ourselves if we can beat the Giants because the Giants are really right at the top of our division.
Q: What will that do for you guys as far as tightening things up?
A: That's why it's an important game. It's a division game and they're really important. And we’ve got five of those left. This is the one that we can do something about.
Q: Are you guys practicing today?
A: We are practicing, we need it.
Q: Are you holding anybody out?
Q: Are you a believer that the more desperate team can generally get the advantage? Are you in that situation on Monday night?
A: I don't know about that. I think the team that plays the best is the most prepared and ready to play. Who plays their best has the chance to win. That’s what we’ll try to do.
Q: What have you seen from the Giants in the past three weeks?
A: I think they're a good team. I think they have been a good team all along. They lost close games starting out. They're a solid football team on offense, defense, and special teams. They're well coached. We don’t expect any less. And they beat us twice. Even though we won the division last year, they beat us twice. So we know that.
Q: Has Dez Bryant been everything you expected, and maybe a little bit more?
A: Yes, he's an outstanding player and his upside is tremendous. He can make plays that other guys can’t make. He can run back kicks, catch the ball, run with it, he can do it all. We’re looking forward to him having a great career here.
Q: On defense, do you see things that are encouraging?
A: Yeah, I mean against Minnesota, they had 188 yards. I don't think I ever had a game where we lost and they only had 188 yards. It happens. We just have to keep playing and try to get better. That's what we have to do, and that's we plan on doing.
Q: How do you clean up your penalty issues?
A: We're doing a lot of different things. I won't go into all of them, but we're doing a lot of different things to try to make guys more aware, make sure they know exactly what penalties are or are not, and coach it that way. It’s a heavy emphasis on that area, certainly. And I’m sure that’s what the Giants do too.
Q: Canty played in a 3-4 for you and now he's in a 4-3 here, what have you seen from him in this new Giants defense?
A: Chris can play in any defense. He's a really good player, and we hated to lose him when we did, but he's capable of playing any defense. Most really good players can play in any scheme. If your scheme doesn't fit a really good player, then you have a bad scheme.
Q: I know you lost your starting guard for a few games…
A: He's not out.
Q: He's okay?
A: Well, we'll see. He's not practicing today but I don't know if he'll play Monday night or not. And I don't think anybody else does.
Q: How do you look at your offensive line, healthy or not, going against the Giants defensive line?
A: They're strong. They are a really strong group. We've only had one game where we've had more than one sack against us, but these guys can put a lot of pressure on you and in the past they've had a strong front four. But we've also been able to hold up against some pretty good rushers this year.