Cowboys Head Coach Wade Phillips
Q: Talk about the challenge of being patient with a 1-4 record:
A: Well, you're not any better than your record. Yeah, it's frustrating but you keep working towards the future and not dwell on the past. You have to learn from the past. It's all about attitude now. It's all about your attitude, the team staying together, pulling for each other, and believing in each other. That's the challenge.
Q: Are they still together and believing in each other?
A: Oh yeah. We've lost some close games, you know. The Giants know how we feel now about three weeks ago.
Q: Do you feel the division is still wide open, though?
A: Well, it's still early but we are just pointing toward this game. At 1-4, you don't think about the division or anything else. All you think about it is the next ballgame and trying to win that.
Q: You guys had high expectations entering the season and I'm sure your players are surprised they're 1-4, how big of a hurdle is that to overcome?
A: Yeah, it's always tough. We expect to win. The last three years, we have won more games than any other team in the NFC, so yeah, the expectations are high and we felt like we were going to have a better team. We haven't done that so far but the season isn't over.
Q: Are there things on film that make you think you can turn your season around and do it quickly?
A: Yeah. We're third in the NFL in offense and fourth in defense. We have outgained our opponents by about 600 yards in five games. Usually when you're moving the ball and stopping the other team, you have a chance to win. We haven't been able to do that well enough.
Q: Is Tony Romo's left thumb a problem?
A: No, no problem.
Q: Just a bruise?
A: Yeah, he just has a bruise. He's fine today. And it's his left hand so we won't have him throw left handed anyway. You can tell the Giants that. We'll give you that secret.
Q: Jerry Jones sounded pessimistic about the rest of your season, how does that affect the team?
A: I don't think he's said anything like that. He actually talked to the team and was really positive, so I don't know his attitude.
Q: He talked to the team this week?
Q: What was the message he had for him?
A: I don't want to get into what we're saying to our team, and so forth. I'm just saying that I thought it was pretty positive. He knows, like we all know, that we had high expectations and we haven't reached that, but we still have a chance. The season is not over, and we're looking forward to this ball game. We are looking forward to winning at home, playing at home, Monday night, all the great things. We can feel better about ourselves if we can beat the Giants because the Giants are really the team right at the top of our division.
Q: What will that do for you guys as far as tightening this up?
A: Well, that's why it's an important game. It's a division game and they're really important. We have five of those left. This is the one that we can do something about.
Q: Are you guys practicing today?
A: We are practicing, we need it.
Q: Is anyone out?
Q: Do you believe that the desperate team is the one who has the advantage? Are you in that situation this week?
A: I don't know. I think the team that plays the best is the most prepared and ready to play. Who plays their best has the best chance to win.
Q: What have you seen from the Giants in the past three weeks?
A: I think they're a good team. I think they have been a good team all along. They had some close games. They're a solid football team on offense, defense, and special teams. They're well coached. I wouldn't expect any less. They beat us twice last year. Even though we won the division last year, they beat us twice.
Q: Has Dez Bryant lived up to his expectations?
A: Yes, he's an outstanding player and his upside is tremendous. He's something other guys can't match. Running back kicks, catching the ball, or running with it, he can do it all. I'm looking forward to him having a great career here.
Q: Defensively, do you see things that are encouraging?
A: Yeah, I mean against Minnesota, they had 188 yards. I don't think I ever had a game where we lost and they only had 188 yards. It happens. We just have to keep playing and try to get better. That's what we have to do, and that's we plan on doing.
Q: How do you clean up your penalty issues?
A: We're doing a lot of different things. I won't go into all of them, but we're doing a lot of different things to try to make guys more aware, make sure they know what penalties are or are not, and coach it that way. Heavy emphasis on that, and I think that's the way.
Q: Canty played in a 3-4 for you and now he's in a 4-3 here, what have you seen from him in this new Giants defense?
A: Chris can play in any defense. He's a really good player, and we hated to lose him when he did, but he's capable of playing any defense. Most really good players can play in any scheme. If your scheme doesn't fit a really good player, then you have a bad scheme.
Q: I know you lost your starting guard for a few games…
A: He's not out.
Q: He's okay?
A: Well, we'll see. He's not practicing today but I don't know if he'll play Monday night or not. I don't think anybody else does.
Q: How do you look at your offensive line, healthy or not, going against the Giants defensive line?
A: They're strong. They are a really strong group. We've only had one game where we've had more sacks against us, but these guys can put a lot of pressure on you and in the past they've had a strong front four. But we've also held up against some pretty good rushers this year.
CowboysQB Tony Romo
Q: What gives you a reason for optimism that this season can be turned around?
A: Well, I think that the season is not over yet, so as a competitor and as an athlete, you're always going forward and trying to get better and improve and trying to turn it around when you get in those situations. All I know how to do is to work hard and keep your head down and go forward.
Q: How would you look at the NFC East at this point?
A: They're doing good. I think that the other three teams are playing well – they're playing good football. The Giants have played really well as of late and they're going to be a great challenge for us. We always get good, tough games out of them, so we expect nothing different this week.
Q: So you think the division is still wide open?
A: Well, really for us it's not about who is leading the division or anything. It's still the first quarter of the season – it just ended. So, for us, it's about trying to play our best football game this week and trying to get a win. We are really in a hole here and we need to come out and play our best game this week.
Q: How hard is it to keep everybody positive? I'm sure nobody was expecting a 1-4 start.
A: Yeah, I think that's correct. None of us here thought we were going to be in this situation. You don't work as hard as we do and commit to every day and doing the things we do to be like this. It's not fun. It's not enjoyable and you have to figure out a way to win and get yourself out of this and that's what we're trying to do right now.
Q: Do you feel that there's an issue of the team staying together and believing in each other?
A: The guys work really hard and we have a lot of high character individuals in here that are self-motivated people and you try to get your team surrounded by as many of those guys as you can because when stuff goes south or you hit a tough spot in the season, you need people to rally and to pick it up individually, which will collectively help the group. I think that we have a lot of individuals like that. Guys are staying together. It's a close-knit group and we know what's at stake and we know that the only way to get out of this is to play good football and to work as hard as we can and that's what we're trying to do.
Q: You haven't ever had a start like this before. As a team leader, how do you handle it?
A: Well, you stress the importance of the little things. You stress that…when you talk to the guys you tell them that you have to do the things that will separate you going forward to raise your level of play, and if everyone does that a little bit, it will help the entire group. It's just a lot of little things that hurt us in these games and you need to keep plugging away, but you also need to find ways to do things a little bit better and you need to think about it a little bit more, you need to work a little harder, study a little more tape and I've stressed this with each one of the guys and they've done a great job of responding to that and now we just have to go out there and see the results with wins.
Q: What would a Monday night win against a division rival like the Giants mean for you guys?
A: Well, it would give you a good feeling at the end of the week for all of the time and training that you have to put in. I think for us, we have to play well. We have to play well this weekend to win, to beat these guys. I think that it would be an important stepping stone going in the right direction for the rest of the season and it would just hopefully carry over, but we need to put in a lot of work this week first.
Q: Have you seen the Giants defense evolve over the course of the season so far?
A: Yeah, they're doing some good things. I think that like any team it's always turnover ratios and things of that nature are always the big thing – when you get them and you're not giving them up, I think that matters a lot. When you watch, it's tough to get down the field and score on these guys. Long drives are difficult, they're good. They get minus plays, they run the football, they're well coached, and they're good players.
Q: Talk about Jerry Jones coming in to talk to you guys. What does that mean to the team?
A: Jerry is great. I couldn't imagine having another owner. He's so positive and optimistic and it just trickles down to the rest of the organization. There's a reason why he's been so successful as an owner in the NFL and his team has been and he just has great wisdom. He's been through a lot in his life and he's been through a lot as the owner of this team, and it's great to hear stuff from him.
Q: What was his message to you?
A: I'm going to keep that between us.
Q: But he was definitely optimistic? Because earlier in the week he was quoted as being somewhat pessimistic…
A: Well, I didn't write the article. You'll have to ask him about it.
Q: What is your team doing well that the Giants should be wary of?
A: Well, I don't know. I think that for us, every team gets magnified or dissected depending on whether you win or lose, so when you're losing, you're not doing anything well, and when you're winning, you're doing everything well and everyone is a great player and everyone is a great coach and the rest of it, so…that's part of the world we live in playing in the National Football League and once you understand that, it's easier to look to the little things that can separate each game and figure out what those are that can get you over the hump. For us, it's just minimizing mistakes, some things we have to do to get better. The good things are…each game is a little different, we do different things well. I think we're moving the ball pretty well up and down the field watching teams…we haven't been able to win at the end of the day and that's really what the objective is, so that's what matters.
Q: Has it felt like the end of the world down there between the media and the fans?
A: When you lose one game it's always like that, so obviously when you're losing a few, people are going to magnify everything and that's just like when you win. It's the way it is. It's the world the NFL is and I know that it's not enjoyable to be a part of the process when you're not winning and all you can do is work harder, find a way to continue to commit every day and stay together and there can be a light at the end of the tunnel if you can do those things.
Q: At some point it will be too late. Is this like a last stand for your team?
A: I don't know that you ever think of one game as a…it's not the playoff game where you win or lose and your season is either over or you keep going. It's obviously important and we do need this win and it's getting to that point where the season hinges as you continue to go forward. I don't know when that is, that specific game. You never know how it's going to turn out. You never know if 8-8 gets you into the playoffs or 12-4. It's just that the season will play itself out the way it is supposed to. I do know that this is very important. We need to play our best game this weekend.
Q: Talk about what Dez Bryant has brought to the table.
A: He's done good. He's a young kid with a lot of energy who has come in and provided a spark for the offense and he's got a bright future ahead of him.
Q: Is he as good as you've had down there?
A: He's doing good. I think that young guys sometimes – and Dez is the same case – they've got a lot to learn with the adjustments and the routes and the alignment differences and just the every little nuance of playing the position will come with time, so in that regard he's still a little young, but he's made some big plays for us and he definitely is a talented player.
Q: Do you have any good Chris Canty stories for us?
A: Chris is a great guy. He's a hard worker and we had a good time with him when he was here and I think he's got a lot of friends back here who care about him.
Q: There hasn't been any trash talk?
A: Not that I know of, but I'm sure he's talked to the D Line and they have some fun ones.
Q: When did your t-shirt go away? That one from high school…
A: Slowly it dissolved…decayed or whatever you want to call it. I might have to bring that out. That's a good call. It's been a while. I like it – I haven't thought about that one in a while, but I think if you breathe on it too heavily it will probably tear, but we'll see. I'll see if we can bring it out this week.
Q: It still exists?
A: Yeah, it does still exist. I just don't know that it would handle the wear and tear of a warm-up to a football game, much less a football game.
Q: When did you stop wearing it?
A: Really this year, but last year I started to stop a little bit.