Marvin Lewis News Conference Opening comments...
"The Cowboys are playing good football. They've obviously done a very effective job offensively with running the football, winning on third down – at a 50 percent conversion (rate) – and their yards per carry. Their quarterback has been very, very good. He's not really even throwing the ball into traffic. He's very efficient with his throws and not making any error that way. That's been their key thus far. So it's important for us. We've got to play really well. They're doing a good job, and we have to play our football game."
What are your impressions of Sean Lee and the difference he makes for them?
"He's been their leader for a few years there. He helps get everybody on the same page defensively."
One of the things people always bring up when talking about the Cowboys is that their offensive line is one of the best in football. What makes them so good?
"They're athletic. They're strong. They're big. They're physical. They're obviously put together very well. You've got three first-round picks up there, so they're guys that everybody knew were really good players. They've done a really good job coaching and developing them. They've come into the league and haven't disappointed anybody."
What are your impressions of Ezekiel Elliott as a running back?
"He's everything we thought he would be – fast, strong, great vision, great cutter, has an ability to make people miss within the hole, speed to the perimeter, runs behind his pads. He has all the great qualities we watched up the road (at Ohio State)."
They also have Alfred Morris at RB, who has put up good numbers the last few years...
"He's a larger man. He's powerful. He's a good runner. Both of these runners run through a lot of contact, so we really have to have our big boy pads on and tackle."
You broke in Andy Dalton as a rookie QB in 2011. With that in mind, what are the Cowboys doing to put their rookie QB, Dak Prescott, in a position to be successful?
"They've done a really good job of understanding, and when they had an injury to their guy, they were able to make a quick decision. And they've done a nice job of putting the offense around him, and allowing him to continue to grow. With his repetition and what they do, with the running game and passing game and his ability to make accurate throws, he's done a really good job with this in the opening."
They say a good RB is a QB's best friend. But a good TE, like Jason Witten, can really be a best friend to a rookie QB...
"Yeah. In Jason Witten, he's got one of the finest of all time. Not only as a player, but as a pro and person. He's another great leader of the football team. He does a great job working away from leverage. He's a guy you have to know in critical third-down situations. He's such a big component of what they do."
Your defense has the third-longest current streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher. Is that a number that matters only to the media, or is that an arbitrary number?
"It's kind of an arbitrary number. At one point, when I was coaching defense (in Baltimore), we went about 46 games. I think Corey Dillon actually broke it. When I came here, I remember saying, 'At least it was by a really good player' (laughs)."
You weren't happy about that...
"It's going to get broken someday. I think Corey had 101 (yards). And the guy before was with the Bears in 1998. It was next-to-last game of the season.
"But again, this is a good rushing football team. We have to do a good job in the running game. But it's two-fold. We've got to defend the offense at the end of the day. And the goal is to win the football game."
At this point in the season, having lost two games, is there more of a sense of urgency in the locker room? A must-win feel?
"We're in October now, so there is a sense of urgency that you've got to have to have to be a great football team. We're playing all good teams. We've got 12 football games left in the regular season, and they're all good football teams. We're going to have to play good football week in and week out. It's time for us to step forward, put our best feet forward and play well."
What has Will Clarke done to further his development?
"He has worked hard, taken advantage of opportunities, and done a really good job as a rotation guy and a player that can take advantage of a situation. Most importantly, he is finishing plays. He'd have one more sack if he could get the quarterback down instead of dragging him for seven yards. (Laughs). That's key for a young player. We saw some bright spots for him earlier in his career, and now is the time to take the step forward."
How valuable is it that your depth needs to be prepared for?
"Well, you're preparing for the football team. To make positive plays in your opportunity earns you more opportunities. The opponent cannot gauge and judge that. For us, we don't want to have any kind of letdown at that point. You want your guys fresh going into the fourth quarter as we continue to develop these young guys like Margus (Hunt), Will, and Pat (Sims). Pat has had an incredible season for us. We've done a great job with those guys in the rotation, we need them to continue to step up and contribute."
There's been lot of transition on special teams. Is it time for them to take the next step?
"It is. It's time for them to be positive contributors in special teams. We've had some new faces, but now they've been through preseason and four games. It's time to get moving and do it right."
Tyler Eifert will play?
Andy Dalton News Conference
Did you have a good weekend? Did you get to watch any football?
"I did. It was nice and relaxing. I watched a little bit. It was weird to sit at home and watch games. A relaxing weekend is what we needed."
What have you seen from the Cowboys tape?
"They're just sound. They're not a team that does a whole lot of different things, but they're really sound in what they do. They make plays, they play hard, so that's the biggest thing that sticks out. They play their defense really well. They understand it well. You can tell that on tape."
Does Sean Lee embody that sort of soundness?
"Yeah. He's the guy that gets everybody going. He sets the tone for that defense. He's exactly what you want from a linebacker. He's a great player, and not a lot confuses him on what's going on. He's really good at what he does."
This is the first 4-3 defense you've faced. What is it about Lee that makes it so difficult?
"He's played in a lot of games. He understands his defense. You can tell he's a guy that studies and knows what's going on. He runs to the ball well, he's athletic. He does everything you want your linebacker to do. That's why he's such a good player."
Did you play in this stadium in college?
"I did. I played Oregon State my senior year. We won. I've sat in the stands and I've played there too."
Was the west based window with the sun a problem in preseason?
"No I don't remember it being a problem, so I don't expect it to be a problem this time."
How do you look at someone like DeMarcus Lawrence, who is returning from suspension and doesn't have film this year?
"We'll definitely be watching, just because he hasn't played this year. You have to see what kind of guy he is, especially for the guys up front who are going to be against him one-on-one. We'll watch him to make sure we know what his style is."
Do you see yourself sticking with the formula of throwing it a lot? You lead the AFC in passing yards …
"We're going to do whatever it takes to win. Some of these games, I've had to throw a lot, so that's why it's up there. We're looking at it as the game goes on, what the best way to score is and to move the ball. It's up there right now, so who knows what it's going to be toward the end of the season? Obviously we want to keep winning games. If it's up, there it's up there. Whatever it takes to win."
What takeaways have you drawn from the first month?
"I did some good things. There are some things I need to correct and improve on. For us, the biggest thing is we have to take advantage of every chance we get. We can't miss opportunities. We felt like we left some things out there these first few games. We're looking forward to a good month of October."
Does the offense have a noticeable lack of flow without Tyler Eifert out there?
"It's a little different. The guy that we've been playing with hadn't played in a lot of games before. Now I feel like C.J. (Uzomah), Tyler Kroft, and Ryan Hewitt are getting a better feel for it. I think those guys are getting better every week."
What's changed with your low turnover rate this year and last year? How are you seeing things differently?
"It's being smart with the ball, knowing when you can take chances, and trusting your guys to make plays. It's the understanding of when you can take the chance to try to fit one in, and when to hold on to it and check the ball down, or try to get out and make a play outside the pocket. I knew I needed to do a better job of that early on. Several years ago I had too many turnovers, so it was making the conscious effort of, 'If you don't turn the ball over, you're giving the team a better chance to win.' "
Is some of it experience?
"Definitely. It's all part of it. I feel a lot more confident now than my first or second year here."
What have you seen out of Dak Prescott?
"I've taken notes of guys. He's done a great job. He filled that role with Tony Romo being out. He had some big shoes to fill. He came in and did a great job. He's been smart with the ball and hasn't turned it over, which is huge. He's given them a chance to win. I've been impressed with him."
Do you anticipate Tyler Eifert will be able to return?
"I have no idea. Hopefully, because we want him back as quickly as can. He has to go through the whole process of getting back and making sure he's healthy and good to go. I want him back whenever we can get him back, but I don't know when that plan is."
Do you see the offense taking another step forward when he does come back?
"He's one of the best tight ends in the league, and he proved that last year. When you get a guy like that back, you can do a lot more. Teams have to take notice of him. I feel like we will take a bit of a jump. That's not to take away from the guys that we have, though. We're just adding another piece that is really good."
What are games like for a young quarterback who's trying not to turn the ball over?
"You learn every week. You feel like you're seeing new defenses and new ways teams are trying to take your stuff away. It's all part of the process. He's done a good job of keeping the ball in their possession. Any time you do that, you give your team a chance to win."
Does it help having someone like Ezekiel Elliott running the ball?
"Yeah, they've done a great job of running the ball, they're really good up front with that offensive line. That's part of it, too."
What kind of guy is Jason Witten?
"He's a great guy. He's exactly what you want from a guy on your team, especially one that has been very productive. He's a guy that everyone looks up to. He does everything right."
One month in, what has the transition from Hue Jackson to Ken Zampese been like?
"I feel like it's been some subtle changes and different things. One thing I think we've done a good job of is hitting some big plays and getting the ball downfield. That's good to see. I feel like we're comfortable with the way Ken is calling the game, and the way we've been going."
Are you excited for things to open up when the run game gets going?
"We feel like there's room for improvement there. As soon as that happens we feel like we'll have more opportunities to have good plays."