Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
You guys have been playing pretty well as late; you have to feel pretty fortunate that your destiny is in your own hands at this point in the season right?
"No question about it. You want to get to a point where you are not really looking around to what other people are doing and that if you just take care of your business, again, you can control your destiny. We are certainly at that point. We are focused on the task at hand and that's the New Orleans Saints this week."
How have you guys been able to deal with the distraction the last couple of weeks off the field with the tragic death of Jerry Brown and really come together and win these couple of games?
"It was a tragedy for all of us. It was a life situation more than it was a football situation. Jerry Brown was a member of our team, a 25 year-old man who had his whole life in front of him and he is no longer with us. That was something that was very difficult for all of us to try to understand and to try to get through. I do think we came together, as a result of it; we helped each other get through it. I think our team did a really good job somehow, someway, processing the tragedy and at the same time maintaining some focus to be able to play football. It was particularly hard the first week, but it was equally challenging last week for different reasons. He was a big part of our team and he is not here. Again, it was a life situation. Our team has done a good job of trying to support Josh Brent as he is going through some really challenging times, and all the while maintaining a focus on football, what we need to do on that standpoint."
After that loss to the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving, it could have been a really low point for your team, but you have come back with three straight wins. Can you discuss the way the team has reacted to that loss?
"We talk a lot about having to overcome the different adversities and challenges over the course of the season. It's rare when a team doesn't lose a game, the games are so competitive each and every week in this league and you have to be able to respond to losses, challenges, and circumstances and I think our team has done that. We believe we have the right kind of guys on our team to handle the inevitable challenges and adversities of the season. I think our team has done a good job responding to that lose against Washington."
Have the Sean Payton speculations, rumors, the stories that he might replace you in Dallas at seasons end, has that been a distraction to you? Have you paid attention to that? Have you had numerous conversations with your owner or what?
"Well we just focus on what we need to do to be our best. We have great challenges every Sunday in this league so we have to make sure our focus is right and that is something I preach to our team and to our football players. Certainly as coaches and individuals, we have to live that as well. There is always a lot of stuff going on on the periphery, we just have to focus on doing our job as well as we can do them."
We know Sean Payton and Jerry Jones have a good relationship. Do you understand why there has been fuel to the fire because of that, his history of being with the Cowboys and in his personal situation of him potentially being a free agent in the offseason?
"Yes, again, I'm focused on what we need to do here. Sean is a great coach and good friend of mine. He has done a great job in this league for a long time. I'm focused on doing my job as well as I can do it each and every day, and that's what I'm trying to do. We have a great challenge this week against New Orleans and we are trying to have a great Wednesday."
Jason, would you say Tony Romo is playing his best football right now?
"He is playing very well, there's no question about it. I thought he played a particularly good game against Pittsburgh last week. He made a lot of little plays in the game. He made big plays. He made very few bad plays, and led our team in a hard fought battle against a really good defense, the number one defense in the National Football League. And I thought Tony Romo had a really good day against them, as did most of our football team. He certainly played well, and the great thing about Tony is that he is always trying to play better and that's what we like about our players and he is working very hard to do that again this week."
How is Dez Bryant responded with the finger?
"Dez is such a tough guy and he has such a passion for playing so there was no way he was going to stay out of the lineup. It got to a point where we felt last week where we felt like we could protect him and that he could be functional. He practiced a little bit at the end of the week and did a really good job in the game, like you said, he scored a touchdown and made a couple other plays in the game that really made a difference for us. He's played awfully well. He's really grown a lot as a player here, showing up every week and really being a factor in the ball game and last week was no different."
Thomas Morstead is from the Dallas area and is handing an outstanding season. Do you have any thoughts on him?
"Yes, he is having a great year for them, a great year as a punter. He obviously has a huge leg and he directionally punts very well, hangs the ball very well, and has been a huge difference maker for them and certainly on the kickoffs, he is unbelievable, knocking the ball out of the end zone. It's amazing the impact a guy like that, just the strength of his leg and his consistency with his direction, how he can impact a ball game and how he can negate returners. He has done that all year long and has had an outstanding season."
How challenging is it being the Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys?
"I think every head coach in this league has a variety of different challenges they have to deal with. You want to embrace those challenges as a coach. I try to embrace them each and every day. It's a tough league. It's hard to win on Sundays, so what we are trying to do collectively in this organization is somehow, someway, put our best foot forward. We believe in preparing hard and preparing well and the challenge this week is the Saints. We are focused on that and we embrace all the other challenges that come with the job."
Have you approached the last month and a half of the season as if it was like a playoff mentality?
"We always try to approach focusing the task at hand and that goes back a long way. That goes back to training camp and focusing on this practice. In football you have football plays and you want to make sure that each of the players and coaches focus on the next play and so that is the mantra that everyone hears around here. It's something that we believe in, so it's really no different. Regardless of what our record was midpoint of the season you just have to come to work and try to be your best each and every day, with each and every task that you have to get ready for that game on Sunday. That is what we've always tried to do. We've done a good job of that lately over the last half of the season."
Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
You can't ask for anything but the situation where you are in control of your destiny at this point can you?
"I think anytime you get into December, you want to have a chance to be playing and move on. Since I've been here, we've always had that chance at the end of the year and you want to be playing the games that are important. This is another one of those where we're still battling and grinding away to continue to get victories. We have a lot of guys that are out for the season, so we're working with a lot of different people than we started with than even in the middle of the year. We just have to keep rolling and trying to overcome some things to win some football games."
With the tragedy that happened with Jerry Brown, even though you guys won two games, how important was it for you guys to come together?
"Before the accident and things that went down, our football team was close. We work very hard. We just hadn't shown through wins and losses yet what kind of team we thought we might have had. Obviously after the accident, you rally around each other and understand that life is a very precious thing and can be taken away at any moment. We're lucky. We're blessed. It's a privilege to be playing in the National Football League, not a right and I think we approach it that way. Our team goes out here, competes hard, leaves everything on the field and tries to get better every single day. We may not have the same team when we started the year. We might not have the same type of abilities to go out and do some of the stuff…It feels like every game we're in is going to be a battle and we know that. But we also know that we're doing the right things to win games and if we do that and can keep the game close, we believe we can win it in the fourth quarter."
What's been the biggest difference for your team in the last month than in the beginning of the season?
"We've gotten to the point where we're a mentally tough football team and saying that, I believe that when we step on the field in the fourth quarter and we're behind 10 to 14 points, we're going to find a way to win the ballgame and we've been down five or six times this year and consistently come back and (have) put ourselves in position. We've had a couple other ones where we could have come back in eight or nine of them. That's just our mentality that we're a football team that believes late in ballgames and that's helped us."
I know you study the Saints defense and aren't watching a bunch of tape of Drew Brees. It seems like he's sort of having an off year, yet leading the NFL in yardage and touchdown passes. What are your thoughts on the way he's been able to play this year and without Sean Payton, someone who has been behind him every step of the way for six years?
"Number one, quarterbacks are judged off of winning and losing. We all know that and that's what it comes down to. Drew's had a great season, but it probably looks down because of the record and where they're at. But, I think football is the ultimate team sport and if you're going to rely on one guy, than your team isn't going to be able to do what they hope to do. We see that year in and year out. He's a great player who's consistently played at a high level. I don't think you need to go into much discussion about what he can or can't do."
How hard do you think it is for Jason Garrett to be the coach of such a high-profile team, dealing with his and speculation, both of you? How do you think he deals with the job in that market with the Dallas Cowboys being such a known commodity throughout all of sports?
"I just think you put your head down and go to work. Coaches usually coach football and players usually play, regardless of what's being talked about and being said, it doesn't matter. At the beginning of the year, I know people jumped on our bandwagon, everyone was off, we couldn't win a game and then you win a few games and have decent stuff and all of a sudden you're a decent team. That's the NFL. That's every season. What you do is just realize no one knows and no one knows the reality. The reality of it is if you keep getting better as a football team and have enough players to get you over the hump, then you can win the games that count and have a chance at the end of the year. It's just fun for everyone to watch the hearsay and everything that gets talked about. It's a great reality sport, the best reality show there is. It goes on for 17 weeks and then you have the playoffs. It's exciting, but at the same time when you're playing, it doesn't matter. You keep playing and getting better and better."
You are familiar with Steve Spagnuolo and the defenses he runs. What do you attribute for their improvement the last couple of weeks?
"Yes, I think they're a pressure defense. They want to come after you. It's the type of defense that is fast flow. They play hard. I respect Steve and what he does about as much as any coordinator in the league. He's really, really good at it. It's a great chess match when we're out there. In a lot of ways, it's a difficult test. He's done a phenomenal job with those guys and you can tell they're playing pretty darn good football right now. It's going to be a real tough game for us to try to come out, but we're going to give it our best shot."