HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"No team in the league would win if you made some of the mistakes we made. Just some of the plays you don't make. Can't give up 14 points on the offensive side of the football, and you can't really give up 10 points with the special teams. That puts you in a hole that's really tough to get out of. Staying on the offensive side of the football yesterday, I thought Dameon Pierce looked more to the true form of what he's been in the past. I thought he ran hard, just again Dameon Pierce. We probably got away from the run too much in hindsight right now. Passing game-wise, you've got to be able to run the ball, and we did it okay, but you've got to be able to pass the ball also. Our passing game was off, throws to the receivers and just protecting the football. I talk about things you do wrong, of course the turnover ratio normally tell the story a little bit. Offensively, the interception for a touchdown, the fumble when we were backed up. We've got to make it a lot harder on opponents to score that way. These are things we need to clean up. We got some other guys offensively into the mix, at least got them some time. I'm talking about Eno Benjamin and Amari Rodgers. They were at least able to get the uniform on and start the process of finding their role on our football team. Again, special teams, we've been good throughout the year special team-wise. On the long punt, when you miss that many tackles, that's tough also. We had our opportunities. Of course, Des (Desmond) King did some good things returning except for that one, we've got to protect the ball a lot better than that. The positives are how we played defensively throughout the game. I thought the guys started fast and played well throughout. We were able to get a couple of takeaways, good on third downs in the red zone, all of the things. Whenever you can hold an opponent to three points, that's a pretty good game. Lots of positives on that front, but we didn't do enough to get the win, and that's where we are. So, we're going to do what we normally do, we're going to go back and try to make improvements. It seems like each week we are looking at another opponent that's really playing outstanding football, and that's what we're getting with the Dallas Cowboys."
What's your evaluation of QB Kyle Allen?
"Kyle (Allen) was the quarterback of our offense yesterday. We didn't get anything done offensively, so it's pretty hard to talk about many of the good things that anybody on that side of the ball did. Kyle is a part of that, and as we go forward, I've seen the video of course a few times, and the play at the quarterback position wasn't good enough yesterday."
Is there potential that you will make QB Davis Mills the starter again?
"Guys, you kind of know how we do it right now. On a Monday afterwards, we can talk about that play right there. Things get out a little bit quick around here, so if there's a change that we're going to make at any position, you guys will know it right away. But first, I'm going to talk to the guys about all of the things that we're going through at all positions."
Do you see a common thread with QB Kyle Allen's turnovers?
"As we look back to a couple of weeks ago, a lot of it comes down to the decision you make at that position. A lot of them you have to make pretty quickly. Looking at yesterday, that screen that we had, sometimes it's okay to just live to see another day, whether it's taking a sack or throwing the ball away, but not throwing the ball where you don't have a clear vision. The other two we had issues with just quarterback-center exchange. That shouldn't be something that we're having a problem with. Even the quarterback-running back exchange, those are things that we should be able to clean up, and we'll need to. Two weeks in a row right now we've had some of those things that have really hurt us."
How do you stress taking care of the football after watching what the Cowboys defense did to the Colts last night?
"I don't know exactly what all they did. I know they scored a lot of points. Just in general, defenses strip the football, they're trying to take it away. Tavierre Thomas yesterday, punched the ball out. That's just the base part of ball security. On offensive side of the ball, anybody that has possession of the ball, you just have to assume that you just have to protect the ball better. Secure the ball better. Again, these problems that we're having, right now, they should be corrected."
What have you seen from DL Ogbo Okoronkwo, DL Michael Dwumfour and DL Roy Lopez and the progression they're making in the run defense?
"Ogbo (Okoronkwo), I think he's played good football since we've moved him into the starting lineup. He's an athletic guy that plays hard every down. He can rush. A lot of times you're looking at defensive ends, and he's built to play the run and stay in their gaps. They need to play the rush and win the one-on-one battles. He can do that. Michael (Dwumfour) also, he's playing inside. He can't jump offside in that situation. He has good quickness, and he's a knee-bender. I'm saying that for Roy Lopez, played his best game yesterday I would say also up front. Jerry Hughes and the rest of the crew, just D-line in general, putting together some good games on how they're playing. Don't have a whole lot of complaints."
What has been the signaled switch in the last couple of games?
"I think the guys have continued to come to work. Sometimes it just takes a little bit longer. I wish we had been talking about how the defense is playing game one, game two, earlier. It takes time. Some young players, they're going to have to go through some, get their nose bloodied a few times, and eventually it clicks. We're talking about up front. It always starts up front. Jalen Pitre, I've talked about Jalen. He's missed too many tackles. Thought he was outstanding yesterday with his play. My answer to you, it takes time. We're going to get a chance to see. Everybody put together one, maybe two (good games), just being consistent and that's what we're going to need to be. We understand where we are in the playoffs. We have five opponents coming up, starting off with the Cowboys. To finish this the right way and have a good taste in our mouth is what it's about now."
With QB Baker Mayfield being released, is he a realistic option for you all to pursue?
"To be truthful, the only video that I've been really studying is ours. That's a hard story a little bit. To answer your question, everybody that's available we look at. We see if they fit. We're constantly trying to improve our roster, so if there's anybody that's out there, that's what we do. Don't know enough about Baker (Mayfield) or anything like that. We're trying to get better play from the guys we have on our current roster. That's what we're really focused on right now."
Do you have an update on any of your injured players?
"(Derek) Stingley's got a mild hamstring, but his mild hamstring is getting better. I don't know how much you're watching. He was on the sideline yesterday. He was really into ball. So, he is getting better. Jonathan Greenard is better also. I don't know exactly how close he is. Rex (Burkhead) is getting better also. He was in the concussion protocol, and I think he was on the sideline too. All of our players that you're asking about right now, they're all getting better, and we'll see how they fit into the mix."
How do you feel about the passing game facing the Cowboys front seven?
"We play a lot of fronts that generate pressure. We played a lot of good defenses. That doesn't change based on - we've been playing NFL teams that are really good. We're playing another NFL team that's really good. That's how we look at it."
How would you even approach if you added another quarterback with five games left?
"I was asked a question about a quarterback, let's start with that. No one said we're going to add anyone. What I said, is we're trying to figure out our current roster and how we can get better play from the quarterback position. We haven't gone any further than that."
How would you like to see the play calling improve over the last few games of the year?
"Let me start with that, I'm talking a lot about what we're doing, players and all that, we've got to do a better job. It's as kind of simple as that. We had opportunities. When I talk about our play has to get better, we're a part of that. We probably got away from who we are a little bit offensively yesterday, we need to come back to it. Our offense starts with Dameon Pierce. We have to look at how many carries, number one. I don't think he was really shutdown yesterday. We probably shut him down more than anything."
With WR Brandin Cooks, do you expect him back as soon as this week?
"Calf muscles, believe me. Full disclosure, I probably wouldn't tell you anyway. With the calf muscle, we really don't know. He had a calf injury that caused him to miss last week. If you just look at how it takes you to come back from a calf muscle, I don't know if it's mild or what. It kept him out of the game, so we'll see."
What do you think of how TE Brevin Jordan played?
"I think he did some good things blocking. Brevin (Jordan) will tell you that was a big play on that penalty on the sideline. We had momentum. Had an opportunity to get more points at the end. He had a drop too. But you expect some of those things from a guy that hasn't played a lot, and it's good to get him back into the mix."
What's important about the last five games for you to leave a good taste in your mouth?
"To me, first it's just us talking about playing better in all three phases. You can take the score and what the score is. What we're talking about right now, there's a bad taste based on some of the things we did yesterday, so we're starting with that. When I say five, you know how we look at it, coach talk. It's about one team. It's about the Cowboys. Two teams in the state, that's a big game of course for our fans, for us and for them. We need to play well against anyone. This last schedule, three division opponents and the next two non-division opponents are both at the top of their division. So that should be enough to get us motivated."