It’s Week 1 of the 2020 regular season and the Dallas Cowboys are preparing to play the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night. As the team settles into a regular practice schedule, head coach Mike McCarthy also settles into a regular press conference schedule. (All answers are paraphrased and not actual quotes).
Coach opened the press conference by noting that today they would focus on normal down and distance situations, third downs, and they will introduce two minutes. Later tonight the coaches will work on the game plan.
Expectations for 2020
Mike McCarthy was asked about the team’s expectations for 2020 and he threw it back for all of us and said that things are day to day. Ultimately he kept it simple and said that the ability to line up and expect to win every week is the goal from an overview standpoint. He did note that it’s time to dial the focus in each and every day because days go by pretty fast now that we’re starting the season.
He added that he told the team on Wednesday morning that his missing all of the 2019 season led him to an idea that a number of teams “lose” games in the beginning of the season as opposed to getting beat. He said they are preparing to win in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
Xavier Woods health status
McCarthy said that the expectation is Woods will give it a go for Wednesday’s practice and that they will evaluate afterwards. He said the trainers are feeling positive. Coach also said Chidobe Awuzie is expected to give it a go today. (Note: previously it said Jourdan Lewis here, but that was incorrect).
Amount of action for CeeDee Lamb
Sunday is set to be the first bit of NFL action for rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. McCarthy noted that he is aware that we are entering a season in the middle of a pandemic so it is hard to gauge exactly how much someone with no experience at this level is going to play. He noted that CeeDee has had a great camp and that he figures to play a primary role on Sunday.
Thoughts on Sean McVay
Coach said that he is very impressed with what the head coach of the Rams has done in a short amount of time. He noted that McVay has a new special teams coordinator (hehe) and that things are obviously going to be a challenge.
Advantages of having John Fassel from the Rams
McCarthy observed that they have three former Rams coaches on staff and that helps them get a handle on their personnel and their philosophical approach. He tempered that by saying that they’ve had changes, too. He claimed that stats say 30% of plays will be un-scouted looks each year.
Michael Brockers watching the Cowboys on YouTube
Los Angeles Rams defensive end Michael Brockers said this week that he’s been watching Cowboys training camp highlights on YouTube. Seriously. McCarthy was asked if he thinks having former Rams staffers with his group will play any sort of advantage given the lack of preseason and what not.
He noted it can obviously be a factor but that at the end of the day the focus is on how the Cowboys want to play and the things that they want to accomplish.
What is the most impressive thing about Ezekiel Elliott?
McCarthy’s first training camp with the Cowboys is in the books, and so is Ezekiel Elliott’s for the first time in two years as he held out last year.
McCarthy noted that Zeke is a very intelligent football player and that he is always spending extra time with Dak Prescott, the quarterbacks, and the offensive line. He noted that football comes very natural to him and that this is very evident. He said that he has always admired Elliott’s talent from afar and obviously now in person.
Confidence at right tackle
The Cowboys released their first unofficial depth chart of the season on Tuesday and it featured Cam Erving starting at right tackle in lieu of La’el Collins who is on injured reserve. McCarthy noted that they are very confident in Erving. He said Erving is a pro and has played all the positions on the line, but that they are working with the whole offensive line, working their combinations, and working some new things in the run game.
Being the hunted
McCarthy spoke at length about the expectations that the Cowboys are facing and noted that he isn’t here to waste time. He said that he is here to win championships and that he does not want to waste any time.
Handling challenge flags, having a designated coach to help with the call
McCarthy noted that because of COVID protocols there will be variations in the numbers of coaches allowed in the sideline box each week. This week they will have eight coaches in the he box. He said they will have eyes in the press box to help but that ultimately it will be his decision.
Differences in seasons past
Obviously there are a lot of things that are different for NFL teams amid Covid-19 protocols and McCarthy noted that there are many conversations happening about how to approach them. He said it’s about conversations happening to make sure that they are approaching things the right way.