The Washington Redskins (4-11) on Saturday play host to the Dallas Cowboys (11-4) in Week 17 action at FedExField.
This week, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo spoke to the Washington, D.C., media via conference call about the upcoming matchup with the Redskins.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett:
On the plan for his starters on Sunday:
"We're going to practice our guys this week and play our guys on Sunday."
On the rationale behind playing his starters:
"There is something on the line. The outcome of our game matters in certain scenarios, and we just believe in practicing and playing and getting ready to go play in the playoffs. I think we've played well the last month or so and are excited about this opportunity against the Redskins on Sunday."
On running back DeMarco Murray's performance with a broken hand:**
"I thought he was nothing short of remarkable, in my opinion. I thought it was the best game he played all year. Obviously the statistics aren't gaudy like they've been at different times this year, but his determination to play from immediately after the Philadelphia game to on the plane ride home, the next morning, the next night after the surgery, unwavering. The number of times he told me, 'Coach, I'm playing,' and the effect of that on a football team is really, really positive. He never hesitated in any way. He always had a very determined way about him. He started practicing on Thursday, got good work in on Thursday and Friday and played in the ballgame. Not only did he run the football, but he protected and did a lot of other things that a running back has to do and, again, didn't waver once. No hesitation, and I think its impact was far-reaching."
On facing quarterback Robert Griffin III:
"I thought they played a very good game as a team, obviously, last week against the Eagles. We understand how challenging they can be to play against. I thought they did an outstanding job – offense, defense and in the kicking game – and he certainly was a part of it. They ran the ball effectively, the play-action game was very good for them, and they made the plays when they needed to, and again I thought he was certainly a part of it and contributed greatly to that win."
On how much the Redskins' victory against Dallas earlier in the season factors into Sunday:
"We don't really use that as motivation. Obviously we have great respect for the organization and for their football team. They came down here and beat us last time we played. Hopefully it's something we learned from when we watched the tape and can get better from. But our focus is on what the challenge is, and our challenge is going up there this weekend and playing our best game."
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo:
On his thought process preparing for this game:
"Well, I think my thought process is the same as it is every week – you know, to be the best version of myself. Anytime you have the opportunity to play in a football game, I think that you owe it to the game and to your team and everybody to go out and play the game the way it's meant to be played. I think that's all out the whole time. If Coach takes you out, he takes you out, but I'm going in with the approach that I'm playing to win this football game and be the best version of myself I can be and just another opportunity to go out and play the game we love."
On what the Redskins' defense does to make it difficult on him:
"Yeah, I think Coach [Jim] Haslett does a great job mixing things up and he's done a good job of slowing our running game over the years a little bit. More than anything just trying to turn the game one-dimensional and I think they do a good job with some of their pressures – we've evolved a little bit over the years and they've had to adjust as well. They've had their fair share and we've had ours and I think the last game the caught us with some Cover 0 blitzes – we call them our all outs – and we will be a lot more prepared just for that side of things. And they play some trap coverages and other things you've got to be prepared for. You can create some big plays if you execute certain things the right way and so we are going to try to do some of that."
On if he feels the Redskins can time his cadence because of their familiarity with him:
"Not necessarily. I think more than that it was just… I don't think they had a bead on the cadence, they just had a couple of really good plays and we had a couple turnovers in the first game that really hurt us and they got off the field on a couple third downs with some all-out pressures that can create a problem if you didn't have the right stuff on. So we are just going to make sure that each of our calls do not have certain things that allow for that."
On approaching a game against their rival:
A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.
"I think for us it's just about playing the next game and putting our head down and going to work and being, like I said, the best version of yourself. And if you're a mentally tough football player, you're going to play your best regardless of circumstance. In the playoffs, out of the playoffs, whatever it entails, you have an opportunity to go out and put yourself on tape and show everybody who you are. When you have that opportunity you want to always take advantage of that. It's an important game for us. We understand it's Washington at the same time, you know we kind of look at each game the same and just go out and do our jobs and try to be the best version of ourselves while we do it. That's our approach."
On the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry:
"I think it always depends on just how the teams are doing. I mean, everybody in the NFC East, I feel like we have a rivalry with Philly, there's one with the Giants, another one or different one with the Redskins, and in each case it's just playing well when teams are consistently good. For a long time there, the Eagles when I was really young and then the Giants and I know Washington has sprinkled in a couple really good seasons and you know it's all based on during the time you are playing which teams are playing well. Over the course of history and time, the Redskins have been one of the better teams in the National Football League over the 40-year span, so have the Cowboys. So I think that created just a great rivalry between both organizations."
On Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan:
"I think Ryan's their best defensive player. I think it shows when you look at the tape earlier this year, the same thing now. I think he just exemplifies what you want probably in a football player, a guy who can rush the
passer, can drop into coverage, who plays the run well, very good on his assignment. He just does a great job of when he's going one direction, he'll turn and basically his change of direction is good and he'll give you a lot of effort to the ball even if it's behind him. Things like that are what you're looking for and the obvious one is that he can get to the quarterback and create disruption in the pass game. He's an outstanding talent and you've got to prepare for him. He's just a great challenge each week and everybody wants a guy like that on their team."
On the difference in Kerrigan without linebacker Brian Orakpo on the field:
"I think Brian's been a great player in the league for a long time, too. I think sometimes there's an expectation you're supposed to get 15-20 sacks every year, and I think Brian plays the run well, he rushes the quarterback well. We always look at sacks but that's not always what we look at more watching tape. We look at a lot of other things for the player to see what his weaknesses are and how we can attack that. You know, when you have both those guys, it's just hard because they both beat one-on-one matchups and they can create the pressure on the quarterback by themselves. You just have to have a plan for that. I think there's a little bit where you get a great pass rusher, you have to do different things in the pocket as a quarterback to help your chances to get through reads and progressions and there's certain subtle things that come about that can really help. The Redskins have put quarterbacks in positions like that sometimes with their different looks and pressures, and sometimes you have to subtly do certain things to give you a better chance. And when you don't have both guys, it makes it a little bit easier."