Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q: Are you at all concerned about (running back) Saquon (Barkley) being ready without getting a snap in the preseason?
A: I think Saquon's got a good amount of work this training camp, especially being in pads as much as we were, and those guys did a tremendous job of I think getting into the flow of the game. Barkley's a veteran guy so I don't think it'll take him too long to get adjusted to that.
Q: Do you see anything different, better or anything about Saquon this summer than what you saw last year? He had a very productive year last year.
A: Yeah, he came in in great shape, jumped right into the mix and got caught up to all the stuff we were doing on offense, and he's done a great job. First and foremost, he's a captain so he's one of those guys you look for from a leadership standpoint. He's working, he's setting a standard for the offense and he's part of that group that's doing that.
Q: How much do you think the Cowboys adding a corner like (Stephon) Gilmore will change what they do defensively?
A: That's always the question going into Week One. There's things that you look at on tape that they did last year and not really 100% sure of what they're going to this year so you put in your base rules, and you put in your schemes you think you're going to attack, then at the end of the day, it's how fast can we adjust when they present it.
Q: Is that uncertainty that you're talking about more advantage offense or defense?
A: I think it just goes both ways. I think you've got to have enough stuff to adjust to if they present a couple different looks, but it's just part of getting into the flow of the game a little bit.
Q: Do you have to make any concession or adjustments starting a rookie center? Or do you say he's earned good job and we have to treat him like everybody else?
A: You look at all the players, not just one particular but all the players, and make sure you put them in a good position to play fast and confident. I think that's probably an emphasis for a lot of teams around Week One is go out there, let's play fast, let's play confident and give our guys stuff that they know.
Q: Do you look at it as you have three starting receivers that play the majority of snaps, or do you look at maybe rolling five or six guys deep?
A: I'd say each week's going to get a little bit different. This week's kind of in that same boat, kind of mix in our guys and make sure we're giving them the stuff that they're good at and then we'll try to maximize on their strengths as much as we possibly can.
Q: (Cowboys linebacker Micah) Parsons and (Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus) Lawrence had a lot of success in the two matchups last year. How much are you looking for that?
A: Those guys are really talented players. They're really good in the run game, they're really good in the pass game, they have a lot of production, so you see them all over the field. They have good position flexibility. They can play inside, they can play outside, you can stand them up at linebacker, so there's a lot of flexibility there so we've got to make sure we know where they're at every play.
Q: How confident are you this season that you can handle them better now?
A: That's what were working towards right now is this week of practice, making sure we're tightening up our fundamentals and our techniques and putting our guys in a position to be successful.
Q: How much do you look at it as "we saw what happened last year, (tackle) Evan Neal had a rough game" or do you look at it as "oh, he's basically a totally different player because of the improvements that he's made?"
A: You're always self evaling (evaluating), always going back and looking at things that we could've done better as a staff, as a coaching staff, as players, and that's what you work on all offseason. That's what you work on all training camp and even throughout this week of prep, you're building on those things that you did really well and then anything we need to adjust and improve on, we'll address that as well.
Q: When a player like Saquon says he'd like to be more involved in the passing game, do you guys listen to that? Do you make adjustments to increase his role in that area?
A: Yeah, again, we're always improving any of those little areas. Whether it's a running back wanting to be a little more out in the pass game or a receiver wanting to be more involved in the run game – all the different positions, you want to improve on each player. If they have that and we think it's a strength that we can build on and use them, then we will. If we don't, then we won't.
Q: We all talk about how much better (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) can be in year two of Dabs' and your system. How much better can Saquon be in year two?
A: I think really our main focus is on this week, not looking too far ahead. Focus on this week, let's get better today at practice, let's get better and work on the fundamentals and work the plan and work all the things that we're building for the Cowboys that we need to use, so I think that's kind of where I'm at right now.
Q: We know Evan Neal said last year's Dallas game was the worst game he'd ever played. Have you sensed anything from him this week just in terms of how much this means to him and also how confident are you when it comes to leaving him out there on an island?
A: I think you go through the game planning part of it and you're building all those plays. Again, you want to build as much confidence in guys as you can. I think approaching the game, you want to have as much confidence, so that's what we're building as a staff. Want to make sure our guys have no doubt, they can go out there and execute the stuff that we're giving them and then again, making the adjustments – the in-game adjustments and minor tweaks that we have to so that we can continue to play well.
Q: Whenever people bring up speed, it's the ideas of vertical speed. How much does the speed that you added make a difference all over the field?
A: I think it's certainly a threat. When you have guys that can run sideline to sideline or vertically, it allows you to displace the defense a little bit differently, so those are all great assets that our players have.
Q: I think when a lot of people looked at what you guys did last year and Daniel didn't throw the ball down the field that much. How much do you think people should just expect naturally that the numbers are going to come with it now that he has the pieces around him?
A: I think the comparisons from last year to this year, that was in the past. I think right now, we're focused on Dallas and trying to improve ourselves today at practice and work all the schemes that we worked throughout OTA's and training camp. If those things fit for what the game plan determines for this week, then they fit and those are the things we'll use.
Q: Where have you see (wide receiver) Jalin Hyatt improve the most from the time he got here to the time that we stand here today?
A: I think he's getting more confident in himself just being inserted into the offense and identifying the things that we're going to ask him to do on a week-to-week basis. So, you know he's a young player, he's learning, he's growing but he's taking all the necessary steps. He's spending extra time watching tape, spending time reviewing, so from my standpoint, from my chair, I'm looking at that and saying this kid, he's eager to improve, he's eager to work out those things and you're seeing it show up at practice.
Q: Do better skill players make for a better offensive line in your mind?
A: I think on offense it's an 11-man operation. Everyone's got to be so in tune to it, everyone's got to be working on the same page because if you get a breakdown really anywhere, the play kind of falls apart. So you've got to make sure all 11 guys are working together on this, so it's not one particular guy or how fast one particular group is or not, so it's really an 11-man operation is how I see it.
Q: Have you come to the decision on if you're going to rotate the guards?
A: Those are things that we're talking about and, again, Dabs will make the final decision on that one. You'd have to ask Dabs on that one.