Compared to a week ago, when the Dallas Cowboys were regrouping following a significant loss, there was a lot more optimism on Tuesday at The Star. This time, the club gets to take a hard-fought victory into the bye week and maintain their 4-2 record.
On Tuesday, special teams coordinator John Fassel, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media to talk about the team’s victory over the Chargers and their outlook for the upcoming bye week.
Dan Quinn began his availability by comparing his defense team to eight-time gold medallist Usain Bolt, stating that the defense can reach its full potential when players concentrate on their own “race.”
“All week, we talked about running our race,” Quinn said. “I thought that was an important message for us coming off last week. We used Usain Bolt in saying he wasn’t looking in lane four at Justin Gatlin. He was just worried about what he had going on. We didn’t look in lane four, and we needed that.”
The last few minutes of that race featured a picture finish, something the Cowboys had not experienced in five games.
“We haven’t had that where we had to go in the deep waters of the last two minutes of the game in this season into our sixth game,” he said. “Coming off a loss, we weren’t looking for anything to be easy and it wasn’t. That’s exactly what we needed.”
The first points of the game were scored by Cowboys fan favorite Dak Prescott, who broke free on a read option play for eighteen yards on the fourth down.
Prescott showed off his mobility throughout the game, leading the team with 42 rushing yards after gaining some extra yardage by improvising out of the pocket.
“He was terrific,” Brian Schottenheimer said. “It’s something that necessarily hasn’t been missing, but it’s something that hasn’t shown up as much as it did last night. He did a really good job of vacating and getting out in space. He was definitely a weapon for us last night.”
Needless to say, Markquese Bell made his big debut on Monday night after assuming a starting position in the second level and doing exceptionally well. After Leighton Vander Esch’s injury last week, Quinn found it really encouraging.
“Man, I was pleased with him,” Quinn said. “I felt the speed. I felt in the running back coming out of the backfield, the contact, the hitting. I saw that happening.”
Damone Clark was also praised for his flexibility in positioning this week following Vander Esch’s injury.
“I was pleased with Damone, too,” he said. “With Leighton getting hurt, Damone was having to play a different position. To see those two really step into that space and want to be counted on, I think it’s one of the best feelings for a player when you step up when you know you’re being counted on and you deliver.”
Following the team’s defeat to San Francisco the previous week, it was evident that CeeDee Lamb desired more time with the ball. On Monday night, he helped the offense with seven receptions for 117 yards.
Schottenheimer stated that the foundation of his performance began in practice earlier in the week, even if what we witnessed on the field was evident to all by the end of last week.
“It really did start in practice,” he said. “He was a man on a mission. It was our Thursday practice, he was on a mission. You saw that mindset, and I think there’s something to that. First couple of plays, you get him going and he just feeds off it. I love the way he plays with his hair on fire, passionate.”
Referring to rookie kicker Brandon Aubrey, who has started his NFL career 16-for-16, as “Butter Aubrey” at his postgame news conference had some fans laughing. Aubrey had just helped the Cowboys take the lead with a game-winning field goal in the closing minutes.
John Fassel had to resort to superstition when questioned about the nickname, as Aubrey is getting closer to setting an NFL record for the most consecutive field goals made to begin a career.
“He’s on a roll,” Fassel said. “I’m trying to just lay low with it. I recognize that he’s a couple kicks from this or that. I’m trying not to build up too much.”