HEAD COACH JASON GARRETT
(On the biggest difference for his team between week three’s meeting with the Seahawks to now) “I just think we’ve probably grown over the course of the season. We have a lot of young guys on our team who are playing significant roles and I think as much as anything else, they just needed to play. We were inconsistent early on in the year from week to week within games, all of that and I think over time, in the early part of the season, we learned from a number of these different experiences. When you play well and you win a game, replicate that. When things don’t go well, what was your mindset (or) mentality? How do you recapture the positive plays or positive momentum within games or from week to week? I just think over the course of the early part of the season, we learned a lot. We learned a lot of things from the experiences we’re having and I think we’ve grown. Guys have played more, they’ve played more together, and I think we’ve benefitted from that.”
(On how the Seahawks look different from the week three meeting) “I just think they’re a really good team. Obviously, we played them and they did a really good job in the game and did everything they needed to do to win the game up there. They ran the ball effectively against us, they made big plays in the passing game, we didn’t move the ball real well and they took the ball away from us. It’s a good formula for them. That’s how they’ve played for a lot of years now and I think we felt that. We saw that in that game and they’ve been playing that way since then.”
(On who he felt was the best tackler from his playing days and how they compare to Bobby Wagner) “Wow, that’s a great question. Ray Lewis is one of the great tacklers. He just made so many plays for those great Ravens defenses. I was fortunate to play with a guy who’s running the defense there in Seattle, Kenny Norton. I played with him here in Dallas. He was a great tackler. There’s so many great ones and Bobby – I guess the answer to your question, Bobby is just a fantastic football player in so many different ways. To your point, he’s an outstanding tackler. He’s so good at getting to the play, making plays all over the field, takes great angles, anticipates and then when he gets there, he finished the play. He’s an outstanding football player, a great tackler and ranks up there with any of the guys certainly playing today.”
(On Ezekiel Elliott) “I think he’s just a great running back in so many different respects. He’s certainly physically talented, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s quick, he’s fast, he’s explosive, he has great instincts and feel for the game. He’s a powerful guy. I think he’s built. He’s a real sturdy back and he understands leverage and how to play with his pads down and run north and south and get himself in a great position to take on guys who are potentially going to try to tackle him and he makes them miss. He runs through them, around them, he just has a great feel and instinct for the game along with his physical ability.”
(On Amari Cooper) “I think he’s made a big impact on our team. Obviously, we think he’s one of the better receivers in the league. We thought that when he was coming out of Alabama in the draft and had a lot of success out there in Oakland for a couple of seasons and we were really excited to bring him to our team. He’s a young football player with a lot of football in front of him but he’s had some success in this league already and he’s certainly impacted us. The thing that is most impressive for us is you pick him up in the middle of the season and he’s just able to do really anything you ask him to do at a moment’s notice. He lines up all different spots in our formations, inside, outside, runs a variety of routes and typically when you go to him, good things happen. He’s made a lot of little plays for us. It’s been a lot of big plays for us and he’s certainly had a positive impact on everybody because he gets attention from the opposing defense. I think that gives some of the other guys an opportunity.”
(On the Seahawks defense) “Well, we have great respect for their defense. They do a great job there. They’ve done a great job there for a number of years and in some cases, the faces are very familiar and in some cases, there are some new faces but just how they play to us has not changed very much. They’re typically very good on their defensive front. They’ve got a lot of playmakers, up-the-field guys who affect the quarterback and disrupt the run. The linebackers, a couple of those guys have been there for a long time now and they make so many plays sideline-to-sideline in the run game and the passing game. They always seem to be around the ball and the back end guys, there are some new names there but those guys play with a very similar style that the secondary guys have played there for a long time. They play the right way. We’ve got great respect for them.”
(On Kris Richard) “Kris has done a fantastic job for us. He really has. We felt like, when we hired him, that so much of what he believes in is what we believe in. He and Rod Marinelli are cut from the same cloth. The DNA of our defense is aligned with the values that Kris has so it’s been a really good fit in that regard. Obviously, he has different experiences and different perspectives on things and some different ways he wants to do things and I think that’s been a positive thing for us. I think it’s helped our entire defense and certainly the back seven of our defense. He’s just a really smart guy. He’s very passionate about football, he’s a fantastic teacher, a great communicator, he’s able to inspire guys and get them to play, and he just does a fantastic job from top to bottom.
(On assistant coaches pursuing head coaching opportunities) “I think it’s a great opportunity for somebody if they have a chance to interview for a head coaching position. I was in that position a number of years ago and the people who were around me supported me. I think the biggest thing is you have to do is you have to focus on what your job is right now and do that to the best of your ability. If the logistics work out where you can interview with another team in and around your playoff games, you go ahead and figure that out but your focus has to be on what you’re doing. I think that’s first and foremost, and typically people who are interviewing you when you’re involved in the playoffs understand that. To me, it’s more impressive to them when you do have that kind of focus because they know that’s the kind of guy you’re getting if they do in fact hire you. Kris (Richard) is fantastic in terms of that. His focus on what we need to do each day to become a better team is fantastic. He does a great job of instilling that in our defense.”
(On the lack of explosive passing plays by both teams during meetings) “Well, I think you probably have to start by giving the defenses credit. Obviously, Seattle has had one of the best defenses in the NFL for a long time and we certainly are aspiring towards that. Slowing teams down in the passing game is a big part of playing good defense. Those are our objectives. I know those are their objectives as well, making an offense earn it. We’ve had some really good games against these guys. They’ve been close games. Hard-fought battles through the years and I think the games have been different but I do agree with you. They’ve been hard-earned victories where it’s not easy to make big plays and not easy to make yards and score points.”
(On how big of a concern the Seahawks pass rush is) “We have great respect for them. They’re really good on their defensive front. (Frank Clark and Jarran Reed) have been the most productive at sacking the quarterback, but the other guys who are playing with those guys are awfully good players too and they work well together. They rotate guys in. Those guys have an impact. I’ve always believed that the success of their defense and really any defense starts up front. They’ve done a great job through the years of getting guys around the quarterback and having defensive linemen be disruptive defending the run. This year is no different.”
(On Amari Cooper’s impact on Dak Prescott) “He’s been someone who has made a lot of plays for us and that makes everybody’s life better. It makes the other receivers lives better, it makes the running game better and it certainly has a very direct impact on the quarterback. In a number of different games we’ve played this year, Amari has made these signature plays, whether it’s a catch-and-run or a play down the field or a come-to-him on a critical third down or score a touchdown in a big moment in the game, he’s been able to do that for us. Really pleased with what he’s done for us since we’ve gotten him. Again, his transition to learning what we’re doing and picking up so quickly and getting himself acclimated have been very impressive.”
Before the Seahawks and Cowboys meet on Sunday, take a throwback look at photos from every past game, including their first face-off in 1976, a shutout in 1992, and a thrilling last-minute playoff win in 2007.