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Listening In On The Enemy: What The Patriots Coaches Are Saying About The Cowboys

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia talk about what they expect from the Cowboys on Sunday.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots provide something for the general public that the Cowboys do not: transcripts of their press conferences and conference calls. This makes it much easier for us to take a look at what Patriots coaches are saying about the Cowboys.

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Bill Belichick says Cowboys still a threat even without Dez Bryant and Tony Romo - Sports - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI
Earlier today, Bellichick was asked about dealing with a letdown or overconfidence when it comes to preparing for a team that has lost multiple star players. In typical Belichick fashion, he didn’t miss a beat.

"They took Atlanta down to the wire. Overtime against New Orleans. Beat Philadelphia. Beat the Giants. Not bad."

Bill Belichick impressed by 'explosive,' 'clutch' Cowboys | New England Patriots
Belichick emphasized the talent the Cowboys have and the need for his players to get up to speed with Dallas' personnel/schemes this week.

"Going through Dallas and all the things they do well, it's a really explosive football team," Belichick said to open his press conference. "They seem to start every game from ahead, drives and defensive plays, blocked kicks or close to it. They have a really aggressive attitude. They've got a lot of clutch players on both sides of the line of scrimmage. A lot of good players. A lot of depth. A lot of size. Power. Run the ball well. Very active defensively. Create a lot of negative plays. Good in the kicking game.

"They've made a lot of clutch plays...lot of clutch plays in critical situations in the last year and a half.

"It's a team that we don't know very well here that we have to do a lot of work on in the next few days, and really try to zero in. But I've been really impressed watching them."

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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcripts 10/6 | New England Patriots
Belichick offers his thoughts on Jason Witten, whi has got to figure prominently in the Patriots' sefensive gameplan.

Q: Do Jason Witten's consistency and durability go hand-in-hand?

BB: I mean, yeah, I guess so. The fact that he's there every week and he plays good, whether it's in the running game, the passing game, he's a solid all-around player, one of the premier tight ends in the league. He comes up big in big situations, does a great job for them in the running game and makes big and clutch plays for them in the passing game. They obviously have a lot of confidence in him. Both quarterbacks look for him in critical situations, as they have for years. The fact that he's there all the time, has been there throughout his career, his durability has been remarkable.

Q: Is he still one of the best pass receiving tight ends in football?

BB: Yeah, no question. He does it all. They use him really to do everything. I don't think there are any limitations. I don't think they're sitting there saying, ‘Well, we don't want to run this play with Jason in there.' He run blocks, he catches the ball over the middle, he catches the ball in the red area, third down, inside, outside, seams, man coverage, zone coverage, pass protects. I mean, whatever they need him to do, he does it and does a good job of it.

Bill Belichick: Dallas Cowboys defense 'has a lot of variety' up front | masslive.com
Belichick also had nice words for the defense assembled by Rod Marinelli.

"The one thing about Rod, I don't think you're going to see much different (schemes)," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. "I think he'd be the first to tell you that he believes in what he's doing, he's not going to change a lot, he's had a lot of success, probably no reason to change it. Would there be a couple of gameplan things for us? I'm sure there obviously will, but overall they believe in what they're doing. They do it well. They've had a lot of success with it. I can't imagine they'll put in a new defense this week. That would be so out of character for them. They don't need to do that. I don't think they believe in that."

Belichick continued: "They have a lot of variety in what they do, in terms of the front. They don't run a million different coverages, but they run them well. They're sound. They make you beat them. They don't give you a lot of easy plays. You have to go out there and you have to block 'em, you've got to get open, you've got to protect. You have to have enough to beat the scheme. They play hard and they know what they're doing. That's what it's always been."

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Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels Conference Call Transcripts 10/6 | New England Patriots
New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia addressed the media during their conference calls on Tuesday, October 6, 2015.

Q: The Cowboys are getting back Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain. What have you seen from their defense at this point and how do you think it might change with those two guys in there?

JM: This is a very active group on defense, very athletic, fast, long, a lot of length, whether that's in the front or the linebacker group or the secondary. They are a team that takes advantage of offensive mistakes and create opportunities for themselves. They are very aggressive trying to get the ball and they do a good job of taking it away when they have their opportunities. They catch the ball well if they ever have a chance to intercept one. This is a team that you need to be alert and really on top of things every time you are out there. They create a lot of negative plays with their front.

McClain is very good inside, finds the ball, intelligent, long, can be disruptive in the passing game, he's a good blitzer, he's a good tackler, this is a guy who does a lot of really good things in the middle of the defense.

Hardy coming back, we played against him a couple of years ago. We understand the type of athlete and toughness, physicality, edge ability. They can move him inside and play him in there as well along with the other seven or eight defensive linemen that are going to rotate in there also. It only makes the group better having these two guys back.

Certainly, it's a very good unit, very well coach. Coach [Rod] Marinelli and his staff do a great job. You can see that on a week-to-week basis and we've got a big, big challenge ahead of us this week.

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Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia Conference Call Transcripts 10/6 | New England Patriots
Praise for the offensive depth, praise for the running backs, and praise for Brandon Weeden? You may not find that anywhere in Dallas, but you'll find it in abundance in Boston.

Q: What have you seen from the Dallas Cowboys offense since they have been hit by injuries?

MP: Yeah, I mean I think the first thing that comes to mind is obviously this is a pretty persevering group. I mean they keep pushing ahead and guys keep coming in and they obviously have a lot of depth. They play a lot of different people. They've played a lot of different players throughout the year so they've been able to kind of, you know, plug guys in and just keep the offense moving.

I would say obviously the running back position, you know, [Joseph] Randle, [Lance] Dunbar, [Darren] McFadden – but now really Randle and McFadden – being the two guys there that do a great job with this stretch-zone run game and being able to, you know, press the ball out into the perimeter and do a great job of cutting downhill and getting positive yards. It's an extremely difficult scheme to handle up front and be able to stop them in the run game – it's certainly the strong point of what they do.

The skill players have really kind of stepped in and stepped up to their role so you'll see those guys in there. [Terrance] Williams, you know, getting the ball to him a little more obviously with the situation they've got. [Cole] Beasley, who does a great job – I think this guy's a real high effort, real tough guy, hard guy to tackle, does a good job in the slot. So they have enough skill players for the passing game. They do a good job of the matchups there in the passing game, trying to feature, you know, whoever they've got to push the ball to based on what they think the coverage is, whether its finding the dead spots in the zone.

I think [Brandon] Weeden's done a good job of running the offense, controlling the offense, and trying to keep that ball controlled style that they do in both the run and the pass game. They're great on time of possession and also controlled passes. I think the offense for these guys is really one that has a lot of depth and has been able to kind of withstand some of the injuries and just comes out and keeps plugging forward week after week.

Bill Belichick: Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden ‘Can Make All The Throws’ | New England Patriots | NESN.com
Belichick’s message was clear Wednesday morning: Despite being ravaged by injuries, the Dallas Cowboys are not to be taken lightly.

"It looks like Weeden has a lot of talent. He can make all the throws. I don’t think that’s an issue. Again, they have good skill players — at tight end, running back and receiver. They have a lot of depth. (Gavin) Escobar is like having another receiver. He’s a big guy who can get the ball down the field. He’s a receiving tight end, but he’s a good one."