Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
Q: What was the bye week like for you in regard to self-scouting and self-evaluation of the offense?
A: It's a big part of what we do during the bye. We try to do that stuff really on a weekly basis. We've got a lot of people who can help us in that regard, so you get that analysis really every week about what you've been doing, what's been good, what's not been good. But when you get a few days during the bye, you get a chance to maybe do that a tick more thoroughly. You can do it more broadly and take a deeper dive into it, so that's what we tried to do.
Q: But what did you see? What stood out to you through that?
A: I don't want to go into too much of it, but I think the obvious stuff. There's some things we've done well in the running game, some things we haven't done well. There have been aspects of the passing game that have been good for us, so you go back and you look at that stuff and you just do that evaluation. That's stuff that we try to keep a little bit in-house because we'll act on that and we'll act on that stuff going forward. It's really a good time. It's a good time for all of us to sit back and reflect a little bit and decide how we want to use guys, some of the different things we want to do in the run and pass game in the different situations that come up.
Q: (Wide Receiver) Kenny Golladay started the year and predicted pretty accurately that this might take some time and you've got a bunch of guys coming back who haven't practiced. Now those guys are back, but what have you seen from Kenny since he's been back, and do you agree that maybe now it can hit the ground running a little better because guys are much more acclimated?
A: Just a big fan of Kenny. We were excited to bring him here and obviously he missed a lot of time in training camp, and he's missed time throughout the season, but his approach is outstanding. He's always working hard to get himself back and when he has an opportunity to practice, he practices hard and when he's been healthy, he's played really well for us and made a big impact. That's been the case with all of our guys. I think the approach that our guys have taken in terms of being ready, different guys have played at all different spots all year long and those players are ready. They're embracing their opportunity and the guys who haven't been able to play on a consistent basis are doing everything they can to play. It's fun to get them all back and hopefully we'll get more and more healthy as a group as we go forward. I think when we do, I think those combinations of guys give us a good chance to have some success on offense.
Q: Is the Saints game kind of in your head and you're thinking, I know you don't want to look back too much, but you kind of had those guys then and look what you did?
A: Yeah, certainly that was a game where we were most healthy, and our guys played really well in a tough environment against a good team. So that's something you certainly want to build on, but each game is unique. Each part of the season is unique and whoever's out there, they have to be ready to play and go have some success for us and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to help our team win and guys have embraced that.
Q: How much have you had to maybe change things protection-wise because you probably can't just line up and block with five guys all the time? How creative do you have to get and how much of a focus is that?
A: That's obviously a big part of it. Football starts upfront in the run game and in the pass game. It's about offensive and defensive linemen. That's what it is. The best teams have built their teams that way. That goes back through history. The game is won on the line of scrimmage. We've had some guys, different combinations of guys playing and it's our job to try to create an environment where they can have some success. Again, I think those guys have embraced it. It applies to the run game. It applies to the pass game and that's what we try to do each week to give ourselves a chance against the team we're playing.
Q: It took (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) a couple of games to find his stride coming back from his knee injury. What have you seen on the field the last couple of days? Do you expect there to be a little bit of an acclimation period for him if he comes back?
A: He did a great job coming back from that knee injury and I think we all saw that in the early part of the season. In Week 1 he did a good job, he was better in Week 2, better in Week 3, better in Week 4 and obviously he's had this setback and he's been out here the last few weeks. He's one of those guys I'm talking about – a pro who loves to play and does everything he can to get himself right. We haven't really had a full-speed practice. We'll do that more here the next few days, so we'll get a chance to see him more, but his approach is outstanding, and we love having him around. I'm excited to get him back when he's healthy.
Q: What would getting him back mean to this offense?
A: He's just a great football player. I've told you this before, I was on the other side of this for a couple of years against him and he's one of those players that can just really impact a game. There's a lot of two-yard runs, three-yard runs, four-yard runs, non-descript plays and then it's a 68-yard touchdown on a screen or somehow he gets outside, breaks a tackle and gets to the edge and he can be impactful. We saw that in New Orleans. He made those kinds of plays for us. He's a hell of a football player, but don't lose sight of the fact that Book (Running Back Devontae Booker) has done a really good job when he's had opportunities. When we've handed the ball to (Fullback) Eli Penny, those guys have embraced their chances, too. We're excited about them as well and whoever's available and healthy, we'll put them in there and those guys will do a good job for us.
Q: You just mentioned a minute ago about creating an environment for this offensive line group to do well. For years in Dallas, you had a different kind of offensive line. The environment was you just go out there and play and they're really good players. How much more of a challenge is it to have to create that environment as opposed to knowing you have five guys, you just line them up and they're really good?
A: It's just part of where we are. We're trying to rebuild a team and that's a process. It was a process for us in Dallas. At different times, you have to make the decisions and say, 'OK, we've got to allocate this resource because this is important to us,' and we did that time and time again and all of a sudden, you built a really powerful, strong offensive line that's still going today. They're really good players, cornerstone players. So that's what you have to do. In the meantime, you have to somehow, some way create an environment with the guys you have. The guys that we have here have done a hell of a job coming to work every day, practicing, doing everything they can to compete as well as they can on Sundays. We love that as coaches. We love the group of guys we're coaching.
Q: Do you feel like you have one or two of those cornerstone pieces there?
A: We're in the process of doing that. Certainly, we allocated a big resource to draft (Tackle) Andrew Thomas. I think we've all seen his progression. He's going to be a hell of a football player for a long time, so he's one of those guys. Again, we love all those pieces upfront and we're excited about the challenge we have this week against Tampa.
Q: In the game notes there was this little stat that said (Kicker) Graham Gano is second in the league with 19 field goals. What do you have to do to be better in the red zone so you can cut down on the field goals?
A: I think it's all the stuff we've been talking about. It's about winning upfront in the running game to have some success in the running game to create some matchups that you like in the passing game, and then just the efficiency down there to be able to throw and catch and make the plays we need to make. I do think we've made progress over the course of the season. Last week I think we were 0-for-2 in the red zone, but there were kind of third downs that were a little bit out. But I think there's been a trend upward here the last month. I think we've been two out of three scoring touchdowns in the last four games, so that's better and better and better. It comes down to us trying to put our players in a great position and then executing.
Q: When you are game planning, what's the balance between stopping what a defense can do to wreck the game versus you dictating what you guys can do to make big plays?
A: I think that's a balance for everybody every week. You're always trying to find what that is. The best teams do what they do and the units on the other side have to defend them. I think it's rare that you can just simply do that week in and week out in this league, so there's always a balance. Typically, players on the other side are guys who can wreck the game, so you have to be mindful of those guys and what those matchups are. The better you get, the more you dictate and that's the goal that you certainly want to have.
Q: I know it's a couple weeks back now, but what did you make of (Wide Receiver) Kadarius Toney getting one target in that Raiders game? Was it what they were doing, maybe him being banged up a little bit or was that just sort of the way it played out?
A: I think the biggest thing about that game was they're pretty stout upfront and the game they want to play is rush, go get the quarterback. The game they don't want to play is direct runs. They don't want runs right at them. That's just the way they're built. Again, I know that scheme well. I've been around that scheme for a long time, and you don't want to let those defensive end players destroy the game. I thought we did a good job of that. Our guys were physical upfront, we went north and south against them. I think we had eight drives in the game, we scored on four of the eight drives and a lot of that was north and south. I thought DJ (Quarterback Daniel Jones) did a really good job in that game. I think we only threw it 20 times. He was 15 out of 20. I think he threw the ball away three times, so he really handled himself well. We played the game on our terms and if you had followed that defense up to that point, they had been playing the game on their terms, so that was an important thing for us. The byproduct of that is limited touches for all the receivers. Unfortunately, sometimes that's the case, but our guys embraced their roles and did what we needed to do to help our team win.
Q: You guys have been leading with Booker, if it flips and Saquon is the leading ballcarrier, does that dramatically change what your running game looks like and what you're calling for a different runner?
A: Oh, I don't think necessarily. One of the things we love about both those guys is they can really do whatever you ask them to do. Our run game's going to be a collaboration of what we feel good about upfront, on the edges, against the team and the front we're going against. We can ask Book to do anything. We can ask Saquon to do anything and they'll embrace it and they're physically capable of doing it.
Q: Can you do anything to get the flight patterns into and out of Newark changed (because of the noise drowning out the interview)?
A: It's a beautiful day though. We're dealing with the flight pattern but it's a beautiful day. Are you kidding me? The middle of November, blue skies, sunshine. I think we need to embrace it, right?
Q: I know it's not your unit facing (Buccaneers Quarterback) Tom Brady, but this is a guy that's been in the league for 22 years. I think his first game against the Giants, you were, I believe, a player for the Giants. Do you ever sit back and sort of stare in amazement at a 44-year-old quarterback?
A: They're going to make a Mount Rushmore of football players at some point and the first face they chisel will be that guy's face. He's the best that ever walked and he's a hell of a football player and what he's done over the last 20 years has been remarkable. To think he's 44-years-old and probably playing the best ball of his career, it's really amazing. He's an inspiration to everybody in and out of sports.