Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett
September 6, 2017
Q: What was your reaction last night when you found out that you would have running back Ezekiel Elliott available for Sundayís game vs. the Giants?
A: Well, really, the approach that weíve tried to take all along is just to focus on us and donít worry about all the stuff outside of our football team and for Zeke to prepare like he was playing in the game and get the other guys ready as well. And just go to work and not get too caught up in what people are saying outside of our building and just prepare to play the Giants and thatís what weíve done. So, really, things havenít really changed that much.
Q: How has your quarterback room changed from last year going into this year, with more younger players and less veterans?
A: Well obviously, like you said, [former Dallas quarterbacks] Tony [Romo] and Mark [Sanchez] arenít here. They were such great assets to [quarterback] Dak [Prescott] and his development, but we think itís a really strong room. [Offensive Coordinator] Scott Linehan does a great job, Wade Wilson, our quarterbacks coach, does a great job. Kellen Moore, one of his great strengths is just the way he fits into that room, his smarts, his understanding of the position and I think heís been a real asset to Dak up to this point. Obviously, Cooper Rush is the new guy in there and I think heís benefiting from that environment as well. So, itís certainly different, but I think a lot of the same elements are in place.
Q: As someone who has played quarterback in the NFL, what is the best piece of advice that you can give to Prescott about avoiding the Ďsophomore slumpí?
A: Just do what heís done. Heís done a great job just handling any situation that heís come across since heís been with us. And that was the scouting report, that was the evaluation we got from the people at Mississippi State, just the kind of person he is. And heís always prepared, heís always ready, nobody works harder on our football team than he does. He loves it, heís got an unbelievable way with people, his leadership skills are outstanding and he just has a desire to work and to get better every day. So, thatís how heís been, right from day one. Thatís how he handled last season, thatís how he handled the offseason. Nobody worked harder, heís one of the award-winners that weíve got on our team for the offseason program and heís just a great example for the rest of the guys. So, you donít really worry about what people outside of our building are saying. You focus on the things that you can control and he does an outstanding job of that.
Q: How are you preparing your defense, not knowing whether or not Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will play on Sunday?
A: Obviously, heís a great player, heís one of the best players in the league. So, you prepare for him to play and I know heís a competitor and he wants to do anything that he can do get out there. So, you prepare for him, but as it works in the NFL every week, if a starting player isnít available, typically teams put in a backup guy who is ready to go too. So, weíre prepared for the Giants, heís part of it. They have a lot of weapons on offense. So, if heís able to go, we understand those challenges, if heís not able to go, they have a lot of good players there. So, we recognize those challenges as well.
Q: How would you describe how your team is feeling going into the season opener, knowing that they got swept by the Giants last season?
A: Yeah, again, our focus is on ourselves and doing what we need to do each day to play our best football. And thatís really where our attention always is. And I think our team understands why thatís important and why itís critical for us to keep our focus right there. We obviously have great respect for the Giant organization, for the Giants team. We had some great games against them through the years and again, we recognize the challenges. Weíre going to practice as well as we can practice this week and go try and play our best ballgame.
Q: How do you think the Giants were able to contain wide receiver Dez Bryant so much last year and what are going to try to do to free him up this year?
A: Well, they have a lot of really good players on their defense. They have a lot of good defensive linemen, they have good linebackers, they have good guys in the secondary, guys that can cover, make a lot of plays. They have an outstanding scheme. [Giants Defensive Coordinator] Steve Spagnuolo does a fantastic job, the players believe in the system. So, they were obviously one of the best defenses in the league last year, in so many different categories. Again Ė I keep saying this, but itís true Ė we recognize the challenges and weíre going to work hard this week and prepare as best we can to go play our best football.
Q: Do you think that the fact that Bryant only had two catches against the Giants last season drives him this season?
A: Well, Dez is a great competitor and he loves to play football and he loves challenges. Again, we recognize the challenges the Giants present. The biggest thing for Dez and for everybody on our team is just to focus on us and what we need to do to play our best.
Q: Do you feel as though you left something out there last season, even though having won the division you werenít able to beat the Giants?
A: Yeah, again, weíre focused on this year, weíre focused on our team and thatís really where our attention is. So, the big thing that we try to do is practice well on Wednesday, have good meetings after practice and come back and try to prepare our best on Thursday and continue as the week goes on. So, weíre not real focused on last year or any of that kind of stuff. Weíre focused on us, our team right now playing our best football against a really good football team on Sunday night.
Q: What has it been like in Dallas, waiting for the news on Elliottís suspension to come out?
A: Actually, it hasnít been crazy at all. I think everyone is just focused on controlling what we can control. Often times, things happen outside of football that we have no control over and I think coaches and players and football teams are conditioned just to focus on the things that are most important and the things that are in their control. And we try to instill that in our football team and thatís really what we try to do each and every day. And thatís where our focus is. A lot of potential distractions on our team last year, I think the best thing we did was just lock in on each day and our preparation to go play our best on Sunday. Itís no different right now.
Q: How has newly signed defensive back Beneí Benwikere adjusted to his new surroundings?
A: Well, he hasnít been here long, so weíll trying to get him up to speed as quickly as we can. Heís been in meetings and walk-throughs and today was his first practice. So, heís a player that we respect and we got for a reason and hopefully he can pick things up quickly. We absolutely recognize the different weapons that the Giants have all throughout their offense. You mentioned their receivers, but the tight end and obviously, everything starts with their quarterback, whoís an outstanding player. So, again, we recognize the challenges, weíre going to try to get Beneí up to speed as quickly as we can and try to get everybody else to play our best game.