HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
What can two wins in a row do for this football team and its confidence?
"It was a good team win. It's just important that when the guys get back in here on Wednesday that we review the tape and really work hard to correct some things and then keep doing the things that we're doing well, keep doing it. Take it one day at a time and really learn from the game and concentrate on the Buffalo Bills."
Is there such a thing as momentum?
"I think winning is a great thing. There's nothing better than winning. I think the Dallas Cowboys are a very good football team and I think that was a really, really good, hard-fought football game. Our guys fought hard and that's a really good win. So, I think you can build on that. There's a good feeling around the building when guys come into work on Wednesday, positive atmosphere. Everybody will be ready to go."
What did you think about RB Alfred Blue's contribution in the passing game?
"I think he had eight catches. He did a nice job and Deshaun (Watson) did a good job of checking it down to him, trying to basically take the profit when they were playing some zone coverage. Alfred did a nice job of advancing the ball after he caught it. That was really a good, good thing. I think Alfred played a real solid game."
How bad is the injury to CB Kayvon Webster and do you expect him to miss a significant amount of time?
"I don't know the final diagnosis on it. I'll be able to tell you better on Wednesday when the injury report comes out whether he'll be day-to-day or a couple of weeks or whatever it is."
Will RB Lamar Miller be back?
What was the key to shutting down Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott?
"Good team defense. Ezekiel Elliott's a great player. Great player. I thought our guys really played good team defense. Eleven guys to the ball, setting the edge, building a wall inside, really good tackling. I thought our defensive line played real well. I thought D.J. (Reader) played well, Brandon Dunn played well, obviously, (J.J.) Watt and (Jadeveon) Clowney played a really great game. I think Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham played well, so I think that has a lot to do with it. They stuck with it and stayed that way the whole game. Our secondary is playing better and better as they get used to playing with each other, if that makes sense. Their communication is better, and I thought they made more plays on the ball and that was really good."
How many of the hits QB Deshaun Watson took do you think were avoidable?
"He's a great competitor. As he goes through his career, there will be times when he needs to make the decision to slide or get out of bounds, but there were some plays last night where he's trying to score touchdowns. He's trying to help his team win. Dallas was very physical, and Deshaun's very physical. Obviously, those are plays that we want to cut down on and we're going to work hard to do that moving forward because we know that that's not a sustainable way to play, to be hit that much in a game. We understand that, so we're going to work hard to try to improve that."
What were your thoughts on the way S Justin Reid played, specifically his first career interception?
"Yeah, it was a great play. Got his hands underneath the ball. He's getting better and better. He's a great kid, plays hard, very smart guy. He's a really important part of our punt team, and then obviously, playing safety is not easy in RAC's (Romeo Crennel) system with all of the communication that takes place. He's really improving week in and week out and that's what he needs to keep doing and that was a big play that he made in the game last night."
What was the key to limiting Cowboys QB Dak Prescott to 111 yards in the final three quarters and overtime?
"I think it was a combination. Good pass rush, good pressure. I thought the coverage was tight. So, there was pressure and tight coverage. I thought that was the key that sometimes, let's just say the pressure's there but maybe somebody's cut loose in coverage or maybe the coverage is tight but you can only cover them for so long and the pressure's not there. I thought there was more of a match of pressure and coverage in the game and I thought our guys played great team defense last night. It was a really good example of team defense."
What does it say about WR DeAndre Hopkins' ability to make the big play when called upon as he has the last two weeks?
"He's our No. 1 guy. I think everybody in the league knows that. We try to target him 20 to 25 times a game. I don't know what we did last night, but we tried to. I think in certain areas of the field, we have to do a better job with targeting him, but that's why he makes the big bucks. He goes out there and he plays, he plays hard, he's a playmaker, he wants the ball. He wants the ball on every snap and that's what makes him who he is."
Were you encouraged by DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney having good games in back-to-back weeks?
"That's two weeks in a row that JD's had a really high-level game for us. He's a very disruptive player. He plays very hard. He's a violent player in a good way. He plays hard. He is a guy that plays the run, he's rushing the passer better, he's hustling to the ball. Like I said last week, I think he feels good and that just needs to continue because he's a big part, obviously, of what we're doing. You get him out there and J.J. Watt playing at the level that he's playing at – J.J.'s got six sacks I think it is in five games. The other guys I mentioned – I didn't even mention (Whitney) Mercilus. Mercilus played a good game. You get those guys playing at a high level, that's really good for our team."
Do you attribute the struggles in the red area to the defensive schemes being put out there by the opposition?
"I think it's a combination of a lot of things. It's not a time for us to sit here and list all the things. I think it starts with me. I've got to do a better job of teaching it, designing it, and then there are some things that we have to do a better job of executing. There's no doubt about it. We had more penalties down there again. We had plays that were there that maybe the play wasn't made and then there were other plays that we have to design better. I think the defenses are doing a real good job down there. You have to be in this business day in and day out to understand how difficult the red area is. There's less space, the windows, they open and close very fast, you have to make quick decisions, you have to throw the ball accurately, you've got to be able to run the ball by covering people up and blocking support and all these other things. Everybody's got to do a better job, and it starts with the coaching. Like I always tell you, we're working on it right now. We were down there six times and we only got one touchdown. We all know that's not good enough, so we understand that."
What does it do for the rhythm of the offense when QB Deshaun Watson is completing 75 percent of his passes?
"It's good. Especially when we get good gains on first down. That's the key, is getting into a rhythm. How do you get into the rhythm? Well, you get into the rhythm with a positive play on first down. Even if you don't get a positive play on first down, maybe the next, the 2nd-and-10 is a positive play and that gets you into a rhythm to be in a third and manageable. When you're not getting anything on first down and then you're not getting anything on second down or maybe you're only gaining one yard on second down, that's hard to get into a rhythm. When he's completing passes like that, it really helps the rhythm of the offense and that's something that we have to try to continue to do to help him get into that rhythm."
What was the key to shutting down Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence?
"We put a lot of guys on him. Then there were times where he was one-on-one and I thought our guys fought hard. He's a great player. He was there, the ball was out on time. He was pressuring sometimes, but I thought our guys – it was a collective effort to block a guy like that. Our guys did a nice job."
Did you like what you saw from T Kendall Lamm and T Julién Davenport?
"Yes. I thought they played hard. Just like everybody else, there's a lot of things that we have to improve at every position, but I thought those guys played a solid game."
How does pressure in the pocket on a young quarterback affect his development?
"I always say this, but in the offseason maybe we should all sit down and watch the film because there's not a lot times where he's under that much pressure. There's some really good blocking going on. Sometimes the coverage is tight, so he has a lane to take off so he takes off. Now, there are times where he's under pressure, but so are 31 other quarterbacks in this league. These guys on defense that rush the passer are very athletic, great talents and you're going to have to deal with some pressure during games, especially when they blitz, obviously, but even with four-man rush. I think his style of play is something that we're always looking at to be able to say, 'OK, how do we want to design this play based on his style of play?' But, at the same time, we also have to be smart about what his style of play is, if that makes sense. It probably doesn't make sense to you guys, but that's kind of how I explain it. So, we've got to just continue to coach him. He's a great player. I'm glad he's on our team. I would say he had a lot to do with why we won last night and we just need to keep working and improving and that's what I know he'll do."
Did you see an improvement in the chemistry between QB Deshaun Watson and TE Ryan Griffin that may have been missing in the first few games of the season?
"I think Griff had six catches and that was good. I think you're right in that observation. I mean, I'm not sure why that would be earlier in the season, but they work hard together. They really do. Him and the other tight ends and then obviously the receivers, they stay after practice, they work hard to try to get all of this timing down. It paid off last night, especially with Ryan. He had a real good game."
Does Buffalo's win yesterday affect the way you prepare the team to face them on Sunday?
"To me, all you have to do in this league is throw the film on and you look at the individual players that you're going to have to go against, the scheme that you're going to have to go against. That in and of itself, knowing how difficult it is to win a game in this league. Like, that game last night was not pretty. Obviously, we've got to do a better job in the red area. That's obvious, but to come out on top in a game like that is really – that's a hell of a team win. So, now moving forward to Buffalo, watch their game against Tennessee, that was a very hard fought win by Buffalo. Our guys are going to watch that and go, 'We've got to be ready to go this week' because they're coming in here and they're riding a pretty good wave right now. They're winning and they've got a good football team, a great coaching staff. Sean (McDermott) does a great job. I've got a lot of respect for him. I've known him for a while. So, I think our guys, they'll be very attentive this week."
Before the game, did you say anything to the players about all of the other AFC South teams losing yesterday?
"I spoke to the team yesterday morning. We had a good talk yesterday morning and then I didn't really speak to the team before the game. We kind of said it all in the morning. I think these guys are all aware of – this is a race to the finish. Who can be the most improved by the time the season is down to December and January? The team that can continue to just put their head down and go to work every single day and try to get better, red area offense, pass coverage, coverage on special teams units, return game. Just try to get better every single day – coaching, starts there. How do we get better as a coaching staff every day? That's the team – if that team improves the most over the course of time of the season – that's the team that's going to have a chance at the end and that's what we're going to try to do."
How do you overcome the loss of three cornerbacks?
"We've got a lot of guys that are versatile guys back there. Obviously, we'll probably be looking at our practice squad, we'll be looking at guys that are on the street right now, but we'll figure it out."
How important was S Kareem Jackson for you yesterday?
"He's had a good season for us. He's a versatile guy, a great teammate. You can see that – I know when you guys are in the locker room, he's just a good, real personable guy and he can do a lot of different things. Very smart player, good tackler, good ball skills, can cover, can play outside corner, can play inside, can play safety. He's just a versatile guy that has really helped us a lot this year."
Do you expect to play S Kareem Jackson at cornerback more this season due to the injuries?
"I don't know yet. There's a lot of possibilities out there. You'd really like to try to keep him at safety, to be honest with you, because he's had a good year there, but he'll do whatever's best for the team. I know that."
When you get deep in the red area, how does that affect the number of play calls you can call?
"There's still a menu of plays. We called them all. Not many of them worked. So, that's what I'm saying relative to the design of the play. What are we anticipating getting? What are we getting? How are we executing it? How are we game planning it? We've got to make major improvements there because we're moving the ball but we're not scoring touchdowns. We're kicking too many field goals. Ka'imi's doing a nice job – other than that first field goal – but we have to score touchdowns. That's not a sustainable way to win games in this league and we know that. So, we're going to work hard to get it better this week."