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Waiting In The Wings: Cowboys LB Victor Butler Gives An Exclusive Interview To BTB

"That game last Sunday, that's not how we play football. Too many mental errors, mental mistakes, But for Cowboys fans and true believers... there's no bandwagon fans here, either you're with us or your not with us... You're gonna have some ups and some downs... but the true fans are like family. They're with you through the ups and downs, they're supporting you, they're picking you back up."

A 2009 fourth-round draft pick out of Oregon State, Victor Butler is now knee-deep in his third campaign with the Dallas Cowboys. However you feel about the America's Team slogan, there is no denying that the allure of the franchise has an expansive reach. The internet brings us close together from all corners of the globe, perfectly exemplified by the geography behind this staff's construction.

The Cowboys Nation. Butler has known nothing else for his professional career. When the chance arose for BTB to take up a few minutes of his time, his passion for the game, this team and its fans leaked out of every response.

Over the summer, we started getting a sense that Butler had that fight you look for in a player. He described defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's instructions as "Go hunt. Go eat. Whoever's got the ball, kill them." Heading into week two, not much has changed.

"The general atmosphere is we practice like it’s a game. Guys putting bodies on guys, helmet to helmet, shoulder pads are rapping, It’s a great practice atmosphere, but [Ryan] still keeps it kind of cool, laid back, fun.

He wants you to enjoy playing football, cuz when you enjoy playing football, when you’re a competitor and you enjoy what you do, your gonna do it to the best of your abilities. Cuz your having fun. Its just like a kid out there playing Call Of Duty til 5 o'clock in the morning. He makes football fun for you, Coach Garrett does the same thing. He makes football fun so you want to do it for longer, you want to do it better, you want to do it harder, because your having a great time doing it.

That’s our practice atmosphere so you can imagine when you take that and multiply it by 1,000, that’s the game atmosphere for us. That’s why you got guys like Sean Lee hunting down LT or hunting down whoever's got the ball trying to make big hits on them because that’s how we practice."

Much more...

Butler only logged 11 snaps in the Week One loss to the Jets, and his one big play didn't count - he recovered the ball on a Sean Lee forced-fumble that came after the runner was down. Still, he's not deterred from his quest to make an impact, even in limited opportunities.

"You try your hardest to stay engaged in the game, and keep your focus on. You want to get out there and want to participate and help the team and be a productive member of the team. Try to make plays.

I mean its just tough to sit on the sidelines and wait, be a cheerleader, but at the same time you want what’s best for your team and you want to win. That’s the end goal, you want to win. No matter if you play 9 snaps or 90 snaps, you want the team to win and you want to do well. And you want to be a part of the success, you want to help as much as you can, but when you're just sitting on the sideline, you're just waiting on your number to be called. And when you get in you try and do some good things."

"Defensively we had a good plan [against the Jets]. A lot of key injuries that ended up crippling some of the game plan, some of the schemes, towards the end of the game. Defensively we played well, offensively we played well, special teams we had some bright moments, and you look at the film and there’s those few plays, there's one or two plays that really kill a drive, or really hurt you on the defensive side.. or special teams that huge blocked punt that we gave up. So you look at those three to four plays that you have and you wish you could take 'em back, because those plays are the difference in the game.

"Joe D did a excellent job of showing us that exact look all week. We've been blocking that look all week. And what it came down to was communication. I mean guys out there, not focusing. Joe D preaches a one down situation. When your on offense or defense you get three downs to get it right. When your punting the ball or on a kickoff, you only get one opportunity. And so for guys to be mentally prepared for that one opportunity it's really key to the game, and we just had a communication breakdown, and that really hurt us."

But for what it's worth, and in a sport where a short memory serves best, Butler is undeterred. Butler has clearly bought into the Ryan defense, whose magic appears to include convincing all players on the depth chart that they are a valuable member of the team. NFL fans witnessed how a team built on great resolve overcomes injuries, as the Green Bay Packers dug deep into their depth chart to march to a championship. Already missing their top corner, the Cowboys secondary took two major hits during the Jets game. The defensive mentality doesn't seem to allow for excuses. One can almost here Rob Ryan's voice being drilled into the backups' heads via Butler's phrasing when asked if injuries caused philosophical changes in the strategy.

"I mean Rob Ryan did an excellent job. First of all, individual coaches did great handling the personnel when guys went down, putting the right substitutions in and getting guys out there. And as far as the scheme, that’s why you have guys practicing every week, working hard, making the adjustments because you never know who's gonna go down and what's gonna happen in situations where you might need to step in and be a playmaker and be a starter. And so everybody knows the defense, knows the schemes for the week, so that if somebody does go down, there is no change in the scheme. We’re still going 100 miles per hour, just with different guys."

"Rob just does an excellent job of trying to put playmakers on the field. And trying to utilize all the talent that he has. Whether its putting an extra corner out there or putting a couple safeties, maybe putting an extra D linemen or putting extra outside linebackers. The packages that we have are all made up to put guys in perfect positions to make plays, so that you can capitalize on that playmaker ability that he has out there. We got a lot of guys on this team that make plays and theyr'e not just the starters."

"For me I'm excited to get out there whenever I can, whether it’s the starting lineup or special packages. Whenever I can get out there and try to make big plays, I’m all for it."

Again, Butler's enthusiasm for this team is shown in every answer. There's no secret that most players would rather avoid special teams duty. If you ask Butler, which we did, that's not the case in Big D; not with Coach Joe DeCamillis.

"I want what's best for the team, and if me being on special teams is whats best for the team, I’m all for it."

"To be honest, in college I hated special teams. Then you get here, and you get a coach like Coach DeCamillis and he’s so passionate about things. He’s like a D-Coordinator. So when you got a guy that’s got that kind of passion for his job, it rubs off on you."

"You want to do good, you kind of want to be on special teams, you want to love it. because of this coach. I love playing special teams, for the Cowboys."

Butler though, is a linebacker, first and foremost. He's a proud member of the unit and bristled when asked about working with All-World DeMarcus Ware and building towards being an elite overall unit.

"I think we are one of the elite. I mean you look at guys like Bradie James, who's been doing it well for very long, just very consistent. And Keith Brooking... Who’s as consistent as Keith Brooking day in and day out?"

"He practices how he plays. You got Sean Lee, I mean, we seen him in that game, he’s gonna be great. You got DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, so when you look at this linebacker corps, you got guys that are consistently good, to me, and can go anywhere and be factors in this league, so when you got a group like that, and you got guys who are pushing each other and wiling to get better every day, I think that you can only go up."

That was the second dismissal of a stance inadvertently taken in the Q & A. The first occurred when asked about the great effort put forward by the team against the Jets. Butler and the team didn't seem to dwell on the loss, as some media members have tried to paint as a picture this week. It didn't linger much at all according to the linebacker.

"I started watching 49ers film [Monday]. There’s nothing I can do Monday that’s gonna affect the outcome of last Sunday’s game. You watch the film on Monday of the Jets, you take what you can take form it, you see what we did wrong, you see what we can fix, see where we made mistakes so we don’t make 'em this week. After that, now it's time to move on."

"Now it’s time to get better for Week 2. The NFL is a long stretch. Last year's Super Bowl winners were they undefeated or did they barely make the playoffs? The Giants had a SB run when they barely made the playoffs."

"So its not about going undefeated. Everybody wants to win every game, when yo go out there on Sunday, you let the cards lie where they fall and at the end of the day, we didn’t come out with a W, but the great thing with this league is, you got next week."

I would hope [to play more against the 49ers]. That’s why you practice hard all week, to try and touch the field more and play more. Like I said, I just want to help the team and contribute to a win. That’s why I practice hard all week, and do what I do. Try to get out there and create havoc and make plays because its fun."

"It's fun making plays its fun being out there with your teammates, 10 other guys playing passionate, hard, smashmouth football, you want to be that 11th guy out there. So for me, I practice hard every week, I try to get the game plan down."

"You gotta show the coaches that your accountable, and your willing to get in there and make the plays when you need to so that you can play more, so you can contribute to a win. And that’s what were focused oin this week. Getting a win, getting back to Cowboys football and getting a win."

"That game last Sunday, that's not how we play football. Too many mental errors, mental mistakes, But for Cowboys fans and true believers... there's no bandwagon fans here, either you're with us or your not with us... You're gonna have some ups and some downs... but the true fans are like family. They're with you through the ups and downs, they're supporting you, they're picking you back up."

"And that's what this Cowboys Nation is... Cowboys fans are willing to pick us back up, and believe in us week in week out. We want to make these people proud, we want to make this organization proud, because they're just like family. All I’m saying is, prepare for a good week this week. We’re gonna hit practice hard, guys are gonna be more focused, we’re gonna be dialed in and we’re getting ready to have a great game.

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