It’s a short week for the Cowboys as they flip the script and start preparing for the game against the Vikings. Coach Jason Garrett spoke with the media to discuss. (All answers are paraphrased and not actual quotes).
Talk about the Vikings balance offensively
They have a really good OL and an outstanding runner. They have a great scheme they believe in and use play-action. The QB is playing well, they have receiving weapons, it’s a damn good offense.
The Cowboys running game
We value it, we work hard on it. It starts with the guys up front and we have an elite runner in Zeke. Tony Pollard has added to it and the TEs block well. It’s always a work in progress, and the best opportunity to practice it and improve is by running the ball in games because you really can’t simulate the speed and physical tone in practice, and there are not a lot of padded practices.
How will the workday today go since it’s a short week?
The players came in later today, and we’ll do meetings to quickly clean up the last game. Then we move ahead to this week’s game with a walk thru and the later a practice that will be more jogging so it will be content without contact.
Talk about the overhaul of the OL since you became coach
You can’t win in this league without good offensive and defensive lines. History tells you that and personal experience in the 90s showed me that, we could run and that helped both sides of the ball. Games start up front, skill players can’t live up to their potential without the line. We had some great linemen but they were aging, Gurode, Colombo, Adams, Davis; we released three of them in one year, we had to build it back up.
You also have to pick the right replacements
That’s the nature of personnel in this league, if you don’t pick the right guys it wont work. We have and it started with Tyron Smith, he’s a cornerstone, elite player, a real professional. Then came Travis and Zack, Collins and Williams. You have to decide what do you want your team to look like, we’ve done a good job of selecting players that fit that.
The pass protection has really improved over last year
It all fits together, talking earlier about running the ball, it helps with pass protection if you’re not always in passing situations. You want to control the line of scrimmage, the individual guys have protected well, and as a unit they have also. It’s a veteran group, coach Colombo has helped them, the QB is doing a good job of making decisions and getting the ball out, Kellen Moore has done a good job of mixing things up.
Dalvin Cook on outside zone runs
Coach Kubiak has done a good job with it, both the offensive line and the runners. You need gap discipline, set the edges and good tackling on the running back.
Leighton Vander Esch’s health, and balancing Sean Lee’s playing time
We’ll see, hopefully Leighton is doing better, we won’t do a whole lot of hitting today, we hope he improves. We’ll just have to find a way to get both he and Lee out there.
Dak Prescott avoiding sacks with good footwork
It’s always a point of emphasis, QB play at a high level starts with the feet, Dak has worked hard and it has improved. Also playing experience helps to get the ball out of his hands. Dak extends plays with his physical ability that some other QBs can’t, and that sometimes leads to sacks but it also leads to big plays. He can’t be perfect but he handles it well.
The more he plays the more decisive he becomes, he’s a smart guy, instinctive, and the more he plays the more he pounces on situations. He’s a physical safety and is around the ball, a good tackler, and he improves with experience.
Your relationship with Mike Zimmer when you both were here
We used to talk all the time, he had a positive impact, hell of a coach, he helped with the back end and the defense. He was so generous as a coach, I would ask him all the time about coverage philosophies, what gives them problems on defense, and he educated me.
The Jordan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie celebration after the final touchdown
It’s great to see. We always tell the players to think about when you first got your shoulder pads, first got your helmet, your first practice, the pride and excitement. You never want to lose that love for the game, those two guys love to play. They’ve always gotten along really well. We drafted them in the second and third round together, they are competitive and friends.
He’s a good player, good pocket passer, he makes throws at all three levels of the defense, a competitive guy. Whenever we play him he has done a good job, you need to affect him and make him uncomfortable.