One of the standout characteristics of the 2014 Cowboys is their physical play. All season long the team has relied on its All Pro offensive line to physically out-muscle opposing defensive lines and pave the way for the NFLs leading rusher, DeMarco Murray.
And with all the talk this week about the weather and cold temperatures expected for Sunday's Divisional round showdown in Green Bay, many fans have wondered out loud whether the 2014 version of the Dallas Cowboys wasn't built specifically for conditions like those expected in Green Bay.
In today's press conference, Jason Garrett responded to a series of questions about the Cowboys' physical style of play. Here's a partial transcript of that press conference, with the sequence of questions modified slightly to better fit the totality of what Garrett had to say about physical play:
Q: Is what you want to see in playoff football in January in Green Bay a team with a strong running game that can be physical?
Garrett: That’s just the way we always want to play. That’s how we’ve tried to build this football team. That’s how we drafted players; that’s how we brought in players in free agency; that’s how we’ve cut out team down. It’s a really, really important trait.
We want physical guys. We want a physical offensive unit. We want to be able to control the line of scrimmage. Obviously we want to be physical on defense and in the kicking game as well. We feel like we’ve built the team the right way, and that’s definitely a trait that we think is important.
Q: People keep talking about the weather. You talked about being a physical team. Are you built for this type of game?
Garrett: I believe we’re built for this kind of game, no question about that.
These kinds of game, a lot of road games at the end of the season for us, and your ability to run the football and be a physical football team in all three phases allows you to travel well. And we’re excited about this opportunity.
Q: You talk a lot about "dirty runs" at this time of the year. Can you define what a dirty run is?
Garrett: A lot of people get enamored with the longer run. The 10-, 12-, 16-, 20-yard run.
So much of the game, at this level, particularly at this time of the year, is the 2-, 3-, 4-yard run where the runner is finishing forward and you’re putting yourself in a manageable third down situation.
If you look at DeMarco’s runs all year long, that’s what he’s been able to do. He has some real signature runs, some plays where he’s really broken out of there, [where] we blocked well at the second level, [where] receivers have blocked well, and it’s a big run that really impacts the game.
But the greater impact comes from play after play after play, being able to run the ball and getting downhill against the defense. We’ve been very, very good on third down all year long. A big reason is we’ve been in manageable thirds, a big reason for that is this guy running north and south.
Our ability to come off the football and be physical. His ability to run and finish runs. I think it’s had a big impact on our team.
Q: With production in the running game down over the last few weeks, are teams doing more to stop the running game, or is the running game slowing down, or is DeMarco worn down?
Garrett I don’t see him wearing down at all. I think he’s playing really well. I thought he was outstanding in the game the other day. A lot of dirty runs against a team that’s very good defending the run. I think we’ve been really balanced over this last stretch, made a lot of plays in the passing game, maybe as a result of the commitment teams have made to stop the run.
I think we’re playing really good offensive football, and he’s a big part of it, and our ability and commitment to running it has really impacted us favorably in the passing game and really made us the kind of offense that’s hard to stop.
Bill Callahan: "That’s our message to our players. Go as hard as you can for as long as you can & whoever is standing up at the end, wins."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 8, 2015