We've made it to Week 17 of the 2020 NFL season and the Cowboys are, improbably, still alive for the playoffs. Coach Mike McCarthy addressed the upcoming game against the Giants in his regularly-scheduled press conference. (All answers are paraphrased and not actual quotes).
Leighton Vander Esch, Zack Martin, Xavier Woods updates
McCarthy noted that neither Leighton Vander Esch nor Zack Martin will practice on Wednesday, although Martin could do work on the other field. He said that Xavier Woods will start on a limited basis and they will try to work him in.
McCarthy has spoken before about finishing strong and the Cowboys, winners of three in a row, are certainly doing that. He noted that the emphasis is obviously to play your best football in December and that doing so gives you your best chance if you’re able to get into the playoffs. He said the goal is to go to New York and beat the Giants.
First game against the Giants
McCarthy noted that you definitely look at the first game against the Giants. Teams change and players change throughout the season, but he noted that looking at personnel matchups and doing self-scouting is something that is valuable with regards to the first matchup in the season.
Ezekiel Elliott practice status and his leadership
McCarthy heralded Zeke as a great leader and someone who is constantly doing what he can to elevate the team. He noted that Elliott will be limited as far as practice participation on Wednesday.
The identity of the Cowboys
Asked to describe the identity of his team on the field, McCarthy said that number one you want to play to a certain play-style and that he feels the team has accomplished this late in the season. He said he believes the biggest thing is the play-style that is consistent through all three phases of the team.
Ability to win the division after slow start
McCarthy said it speaks to the locker room, their consistent approach and the energy they bring. He noted that this is what success is supposed to look like and that things have obviously been a challenge throughout the year. He noted he is proud of the team for persevering to this point and pointed out how the different units of the team pick each other up.
Andy Dalton’s play this year
Coach said it has been huge, given his experience and ability to play the position. He noted they were excited to sign Dalton and now he is in the groove and has timing with the perimeter guys. Coach also noted how he is in the meeting room with the centers and other coaches and the dialogue that takes place. On the field, McCarthy praised his accuracy, his anticipation, and said he can make all the throws.
Michael Gallup’s personality and play
McCarthy said that the receiver is a great guy that is always a pleasure to be around. He noted that he thinks the team can expand his routes and give him more opportunities because he has continually performed every time that they have done so. He noted that Gallup can do more than just vertical routes and they need to take advantage of that.
Missing Dak Prescott
McCarthy noted that Prescott is a leader and huge part of the team and that it has obviously been a challenging dealing with the season without him. He discussed the respect that Dak commands in the locker room and the tempo of his practices and work ethic. He also said that Dak is in the building every day and that he keeps his connections tot he guys in the locker room.