Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: You’ve had a day now to look, you obviously looked at the film. I’m going to ask you what did you think about the call, the offensive interference on (Damion) Ratley, on a key play there to negate the touchdown by (Darius) Slayton?
A: I always put it on we have to execute cleaner and better and not give an official any opportunity to affect the game. To me, the emphasis is always on what we can teach our players how to clean it up and execute better, and make sure we don’t have those issues.
Q: I was curious what you make of how Andrew (Thomas) has progressed over the course of five games, and in particular the last couple of weeks? It seems like maybe he’s, I know there’s been tough competition obviously, going across DeMarcus Lawrence and guys like that, but what have you made of his progress going against guys like that?
A: Obviously, he sees a mix of things every week. The multiples pile up a little bit in terms of what he’s getting an education on. But I think he’s progressing at a good rate right now. We want to see some improvement from all of our players across the board, both vets and rookies. But he’s working hard every day and he’s making progress.
Q: Obviously, a tough loss with Lorenzo Carter’s injury. I’m just curious what it means to see a guy like that go down and where do you guys go forward now at outside linebacker?
A: I’ll just say in terms of Zo, look, he’s an integral part of this team. He’s a great dude in the locker room. He’s a blast to coach. The good news for him is they can do remarkable things with these injuries now to get him back on the field as soon as possible. That also being said, we won’t see him again this year. We’re going to miss having a guy like that out there for a lot of different reasons. Our thoughts and prayers obviously go out to him for what he’s worked to do, and we appreciate everything he’s done for this team. We look forward to getting him back next year. That being said, as with any move, everyone needs to play better around and make sure we all play as a team.
Q: I know you probably touched on this yesterday, but when you talked to the team today, are you just sitting there going, ‘look guys, we’re making progress. Just concentrate. We’re going to get a win. Don’t worry about it’?
A: My message to the team is always pretty blunt and simple. To me, it’s about evidence on the tape what we have to correct, what we’re doing well, what we have to build on. I’m not a rainbows and sunshine type of guy. I’m also not a brow-beat-you-and-rub-your-nose in it guy, either. It’s, ‘this is what it is. Understand what we’re doing good that we can build on. Understand what we have to do that we have to correct and clean up.’ To me, that’s the best thing for guys to respond. Just show them visual evidence of what they’re improving on and what we have to clean up, and they understand going forward what we have to work on.
Q: I believe (Sterling) Shep is eligible to come off IR maybe Wednesday. Where is he at physically? Is he ready to if you decide to?
A: I need to take a look at him at practice, obviously. He stayed behind this week to do some extra work with the trainers. I know he’s made a lot of progress on a weekly basis. We’ll get him moving around a little bit this week with the trainers early on and see where that’s going to lead as far as him going into practice. We’re kind of in the same spot right now with (David) Mayo as well. We’ll have to see how he moves around in practice again this week to see where he’ll be for this weekend.
Q: You put Oshane (Ximines) on IR Friday, so we didn’t get a chance to ask you, is that a serious, long-term injury or is that something you think he could be back from in a couple of weeks?
A: From the information we got from the doctors right now, it looks like there’s some hope for him to come back soon. I know he’s working hard right now to get back.
Q: Following up on an earlier question, how do you balance the game results with the effort that you’re getting and with the improvement and progress you’re making?
A: Look, I’m always proud of the way our guys come to work every day and how they compete. If it’s not to our standard, believe me, they know it and they know it right away. But I don’t really have to ever worry about the way our guys are going to compete and how they’re going to play. I have a lot of faith in the resiliency we have. We have a tough team, we have a good mindset team. That being said, this is a production business. Our guys understand that we’re going out there to play games to win games, and that’s what the fans deserve and that’s what we’re working to do.
Q: I’m not necessarily looking for you to put anybody on blast, but as far as the fake field goal, the officials called it one way, I think they called it on (Nick) Gates. Then obviously, Tony Romo on the broadcast seemed to think it was Cam Fleming. Can you describe what you saw after watching the film? What happened? Why was a penalty called on that play and why did the touchdown get negated?
A: We just weren’t set as a unit right there, and that’s not one person. That ties into a couple different things communication wise and execution wise. We’ll talk with the team and make sure they understand fully what it is. That was a situational play that came up. We had the opportunity to call it. It was something we prepared for that could come up at different times. We hit it. Evan did a really good job of executing on his part in terms of the substitution exchange and the execution down the field. But we have a couple things we have to clean up on that right there. It wasn’t one person at all.
Q: How do you adjust your schedule for the next couple of days? You have two games now in 11 days I guess.
A: The easiest thing would be to kind of work backwards for you there. Obviously, leading into the Thursday game against Philly, that would be an abbreviated week. Our experience in the past which has worked out pretty good for the players is obviously it’s a lighter on-the-field load. It’s a heavy mental week and mental preparation week, so you have to make sure that you go ahead and you give your players time to recuperate and recover from the game this Sunday that we’re going to play. But that will be a little bit of a lighter load that we’ll build on in. The toughest thing for the guys to understand is once that game against Washington is over, you’re already middle of the way through the game week against Philly on a normal week’s preparation. It’s a very quick turnaround. The biggest emphasis on those weeks is, really physically, let the players recover as much as possible to get them as fresh as you can for the game. This week itself, because it’s a tight turnaround, we have multiple games in a short window, we’ll talk collectively with some of the players, with the strength staff and with our trainers tomorrow morning and kind of see where the team is at physically. Then we’ll go ahead and determine and adjust how we’re going to approach this week here. Last week after the west coast trip, we did a Wednesday walkthrough, Thursday and Friday practice. I thought we had great energy at practice. We had very efficient practices. We’ll see if that’s something that applies this week or not, but I haven’t yet made a decision.
Q: What did you think of Kyler’s (Fackrell) game yesterday? He had a couple impact plays there. Obviously, with Lorenzo out, he’s going to have to carry a little bit more of a load.
A: Yeah, Kyler’s a guy that’s made some plays for us throughout the year so far. He’s a guy who has some versatility to how he plays. He was in the right spot at the right time because he followed his alignment and his drop assignment on that play where he made the interception. He finished it with a good run down the sideline, he got in the end zone for us and made a big play. He had some nice plays in the run game as well. In terms of Kyler, regardless of who else is at the game, we need him to do his job as well as possible for us to have success.
Q: To follow up on that a little bit, Kyler was already playing. Who do you look at to fill in for that void that’s now there with Lorenzo down?
A: There are a lot of things we could do right there. Obviously, Markus (Golden) played a lot yesterday as well, so he’ll be a key part of what we’re doing. We’ll see how it deflects on our other personnel around. Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown are guys who have been at the games for us and play the outside linebacker position. They’re obviously a factor in what we’re doing. But it’s really no different than any other position on any week in terms of we’re going to find the best combinations we can put together.
Q: On a separate note, I’m curious how much do you believe in and how do you feel about team’s needing to learn to win?
A: You hear a lot about that expression, ‘learn to win.’ To me, you can make a lot about the 60th minute of the game when it really starts in the first 59 minutes of the game. You learn to win by doing your assignment on a consistent basis, by executing correctly, by calling the right calls as a coach, by putting your team in the best position, and that’s how we learn to win. We’re working. We have to make sure we execute and we do a better job as coaches, and we execute as players.
Q: I’m curious, Tony Romo said on the broadcast that maybe there was a little bit of a miscommunication with Nick Gates and with Daniel Jones in terms of identifying the middle linebacker and things like that. I’m just curious where you are in terms of those two as a battery and how you would evaluate Nick Gates at center through five games having never played that position before?
A: I’m not overly familiar with exactly what happened on the broadcast yesterday. We have a lot of confidence in Nick going forward. Him and Daniel work very tirelessly together, put in a lot of effort to make sure they’re on the same page. I’m very pleased with how they’ve worked so far. Obviously, we have to all play better and coach better to get the results we want.
Q: A couple questions if I may. Do you have to remind your team to not pay attention to what’s going on in the division given how tight it is and just focus on each week?
A: Yeah, it’s truly one game at a time, no matter who we’re playing. Right now, the only game we’re truly worried about is Washington. That’s the team that we’re focused on right now going forward. Everything that happened yesterday is purely corrections so that we can have the best plan going forward into Washington, and that’s all of our focus as coaches and players this week.
Q: Then if I could just go back to something you said. You mentioned that you keep reminding the players of what it is they do well and so forth. Is that numbers, is it something tangible that you’re seeing? What is it that you’re basing or considering progress with this team that maybe isn’t showing up on game days?
A: Yeah, for me, it’s all video evidence. You can show someone a clip of what they did several games ago and a clip of what they’re doing yesterday on the same play, same technique, same type of matchup, and they can see the visual success of what they’re having. Maybe it’s something they did earlier in the week at practice that you had to correct and it shows up in the game and they do it well. It’s maybe something that they do well at practice and they make a mistake in the game. You have to show them where’s the disconnect? Why are we not executing this correctly and how do we clean this up? To me, it’s about visual evidence. Stats are a large part of the game for different reasons. But for me, if you get lost too much in the numbers, you could lose sight of what the real football is.