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Mike McCarthy press conference: Coach talks aggressive special teams and lack of pass rush

The Cowboys head coach discusses the comeback win over the Falcons.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys had quite the victory on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Mike McCarthy will always remember it as it was his first as the home team at AT&T Stadium.

Many people have a lot of questions about the way the Cowboys played during their first win of the season. Naturally McCarthy is someone who can answer them.

McCarthy spoke on Victory Monday and we have put together a recap of everything that he said. A reminder that all answers are paraphrases and not exact quotes.

Note: Technology kept us from seeing the beginning of the press conference so we picked it up in progress.

The missed first question:

Going up tempo

McCarthy noted that he believes going up tempo has a lot of great benefits. He said he believes the Cowboys are well-suited for that type of offense given their personnel. He noted the quarterback and the experience on the line and in skill positions makes it work.

Young guys on the offensive line

McCarthy noted that he thought the young players played well. He said he thought Brandon Knight did some good things and was prepared on short notice. He mentioned that he only had one day of field work which was Saturday. He said that Terence Steele improved from his Week 1 performance.

Tyron Smith’s health

Coach said that Smith is improving and that they will see what happens on Wednesday.

Joe Thomas

McCarthy said that he had a productive game and that he is getting into the routine with Jaylon Smith, something they will improve on. They will work on his role and the communication, but he had a solid day.

Special teams grade

Coach said they were being aggressive on special teams but noted that when it came to the two biggest special teams plays, they nailed it (onside kick and winning FG). He thought it was a good performance. He said the way they are playing is a part of the plan and philosophy and that they got things pointed in the right direction.

In another question about special teams he said that they practice these plays in practice regularly and that if they perform well in practice he is not afraid to call what John Fassel has drawn up. He explained that the fake punt that was a pass play had worked many times in practice this week so they used it.

4th and 5 fake punt

The Cowboys ran two fake punts during their game against the Atlanta Falcons and the second one was a bit more suspect. McCarthy noted that it wasn’t really about surprise, but they tried to hard count the Falcons and that Atlanta did a good job of bluffing their defense when they made their pre-snap read before filling the middle. They knew that it was going to be a stretch to get five yards.

Poor ball security early in the game

McCarthy noted that in terms of drills the Cowboys put a heavy focus on ball security and that they were obviously disappointed that they fumbled so often. He said it would be a priority again this week in drills and that winning the turnover margin is one of their highest goals.

DeMarcus Lawrence

McCarthy declined to get into detail, but he noted that DeMarcus Lawrence had a “knee injury” that the team was monitoring. He said a report will come out on Wednesday about various injuries.

Lack of pressure on Matt Ryan

The Cowboys did not generate a ton of pressure on Matt Ryan in Sunday’s game. He basically said that there are things they can correct and that gap discipline and lane integrity is something that needs to be fixed. He said they did better in the second half but that they will be working on it this week in practice.

Deciding when to go for it on 4th down

Coach said you use feedback from analytics, but that’s just a starting point. He noted you have to pay attention to things going on in the game, and that fourth down calls are different based on the distance, and what the defense is giving you in the game.

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