Q. What kind of a week has this been? Did you get the response from the team you were looking for?**
A. I think that will be told based on how we perform, and that's something I always say to the guys. You measure weeks of preparation, not by the feel, but by how you perform. The jury's still out, but I feel good about the things we were able to get done, the attention to detail, the spirit in which the guys worked, but I'll let the performance speak for itself.
Q. You said at your news conference that you want the team to prepare and prepare with an edge? What constitutes preparing with an "edge?"
A. Just to utilize those feelings of anger and disappointment associated with our last performance and our recent performances as fuel.
Q. Is there ever a point before the ball is placed on the tee that you have any idea of what's to come in that game based on what you had seen during the week of practice?
A. Oh, sure. I'm not trying to underscore the things that you see. Practice is important. That's why we film it. That's why we grade it. That's why we review it. But I also acknowledge that the playing of the game is the ultimate barometer in terms of our work weeks. Certainly there is a feel, there's a feel based on the continuity and the detail and the things we've been able to execute this week, but I just don't lean too heavily on it.
Q. As a former defensive backs coach, on the 95-yard catch-and-run by Mike Wallace, should the cornerback and the safety have played it as a tandem, or in that instance are they two individuals with different assignments?
A. They never do anything separately. That's just not the nature of the positions they play. Just like the offensive line, the strength of the pack is the pack. Artie Burns has to be close enough to him to tackle the catch, and that's always the case. When you're playing bump-and-run, you have to be close enough to challenge throws, and if you're not in position to challenge throws, at the very least you're in position to tackle the catch. As a free safety, it's Mike's responsibility to get things on the ground and to keep things in front of him. So it was a failure on both parts, but the positions always work together and in concert with whatever it is that they do.
Q. You started the clock on Bud Dupree in terms of IR-designated-to-return. What did he show you during the week at practice, and how did his body respond to it?
A. He did some good things. I thought the response was favorable, but it was an incomplete body of work. He wasn't working the full extent of the practices. We'll continue to work him and look at him and hopefully push him toward game readiness.
Q. Ladarius Green is in uniform today. He's a veteran, but also a guy who's new to your team this year and has had only a couple of weeks worth of work with the other players. How do you balance those two things in deciding his potential role today?**
A. We just have to acknowledge there's a tipping point in terms of snap numbers. There will be a bell-shaped curve in terms of his performance, and when he gets over that bell-shaped curve I would imagine the detail and things associated with performance will go down. We have to do a nice job of balancing that. Keeping track of the number of plays we utilize him for and making sure this experience is a positive one for him, and positive in terms of the contributions he brings to us.
Q. The rabona kick that Chris Boswell attempted against the Ravens, you said you wouldn't have a problem with him trying it again because of the way he works at it in practice. How much doing it in practice did you have to see before you were OK with the attempt?
A. His experience with that kick goes beyond his experience with us. He executed that kick successfully at Rice when he was in college. He's been executing that kick for a number of years. He works it just about daily, and he has since he's been here. It's just in his repertoire of things that he utilizes. Not often do those opportunities present themselves, but quite often he works it, and those skills are displayed in a practice setting.
Q. There is a report that Le'Veon Bell has had a procedure on his knee. What can you tell me about that?
A. He got his knee scoped. We're going to let it calm down, and we'll evaluate him at the top of next week and see what his availability might be for next week. It's definitely not something that's going to have him out for an extended, extended period of time. It's more of a week by week analysis at this point.
Q. What kinds of things do rookie NFL quarterbacks usually do that Dak Prescott is not?**
A. They usually, quite frankly, turn the ball over, and they're usually playing because of a lack of ideal circumstances around them. Meaning that they're on a losing team and there are usually a number of people out, not only at the quarterback position. All of the things surrounding him are pretty solid. He's got a full arsenal of weapons around him. He's got a quality offensive line. He's got a talented runner. He's got a winning group that plays good defense. Just structurally the things around him are much more stable and much more conducive to him performing well than most scenarios involving rookie quarterbacks.
Q. But does he have any characteristics on the field where he is showing himself not to be playing like a typical rookie quarterback?
A. He's done a nice job. Not taking anything away from him. He's managing the game well, he's taking care of the ball. I think he has thrown for 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions. The way they're running the football, and the things that Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett are doing with him, they're minimizing his exposure to defenses, and by that I mean they're minimizing the potential for negativity. One of the key things in their passing game is mis-direction pass and play-action pass, which marries up well with their really good running game. Those are low-risk passing plays.
Q. What do you remember about Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott from the pre-draft getting-to-know-them process?
A. Remember both guys well. We researched both guys, interviewed both guys. I was at Ezekiel's pro day and had a chance to meet him and his Mom. A quality talent, not surprised at all by the things he's doing. I could say similar things about Dak Prescott. We were really impressed with his skill set and talents, and the things he was able to do in Starkville.
Q. Is this the best offensive line in football, and is Tyron Smith the best left tackle?
A. I hadn't seen all of the offensive lines play, but I have to acknowledge that Dallas' has an argument. They're good individually. They're good collectively. They get hats on hats. They're physical. Without question, Smith has an argument for being not only the best left tackle, but the best lineman. He's got a high skill-set. He's got great finish. He's got great skill development and hand usage. There's not anything he can't do.
Q. Everyone knows about Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant and that offensive line, but as you watched video of the Cowboys, what is an underrated aspect of their game that has allowed them to win seven in a row?
A. The interior players, and by the interior players I mean the interior players on possession downs. Often times, it's No. 11, Cole Beasley, and No. 82, Jason Witten. Those guys are the guys who keep possessions alive. They're running the ball, and running the ball extremely well, but they're possessing the ball as an offense. They're dominating the time of possession. On possession downs, these two players are highlights of their offense. They're the chain-movers.
Q. What does a team have to be doing, or not doing for that matter, to win seven games in a row?
A. They have to be taking care of the football. They have to be making the combat catches and plays. In one-on-one situations, whether on offense or defense, you have to be making those combat catches and plays, and they're doing both. They're running the ball really well and they're making combat catches and plays.
Q. What statistic, other than the final score and turnover ratio, will end up being the one that is the best indicator of the outcome?
A. The number of punts is significant. Chris Jones, their punter, has punted the ball 24 times in eight games. So he's averaging three punts a game. We've punted the ball 40 times in eight ballgames, an average of five punts a game. That's two additional possessions by their offense on average where they're not punting the football, meaning they have an opportunity to gain field position and/or score. If you do that over the course of eight weeks, that's 16 possessions. That's more than an extra game's worth of offense that they've had that we haven't. The number of punts in this game is going to be an indicator of whose offense is doing the job and who's in the driver's seat because of it.