Thu Dec 28, 2006 at 03:03:30 PM EST
Jay Ratliff is the only guy who didn't practice, he's improving, hopefully he can work tomorrow, but I'm not sure.
Are teams catching up with Tony Romo by watching film?
You have to be concerned with them looking at the film, every QB goes through the acclimation period, teams try to make you do things you don't want to. I'm not sure that's what happening. I'm sure they're concerned with his mobility and his ability to move around and keep plays alive, and there will be some emphasis in that area. That's one of his strong points.
Romo's struggles recently?
I think it's a question of this ascent he made was mercurial in nature. You were kidding me about it a month ago, but I told you it's not perfect and it's not perfect. He's going to have some, not growing pains, but he's maturing under the game situations and that won't go perfectly. It's the nature of the business, it's just more visible at QB position, but it happens to every player. Example, Mat McBriar, when he was first out there, we had know idea where the ball would go, it could hit me on the sidelines, but now he's only had one game this year that's been erratic. You see that at every position, its part of the process.
Romo an unknown quantity for the playoffs?
He's not an unknown quantity, what I was trying to do was explain to you it won't be smooth the whole way. When you make the choice to insert the player, you do so with the idea that the he will be inconsistent. It's the game situations, some of the things I tried to talk to him about, what we need from him exactly. I try to do it in a comfortable setting. One-on-one where we can have give and take, he can ask questions or express opinions. That's part of my job as a coach; he needs to accept that as the voice of experience. I'm rooting hard for him, so is everybody else.
When I first put him in, I said you don't have to win the game, but don't lose it. Be a good game manager, rely on your people; you don't have to make every throw. It happens to young QB's, especially him, in college he made throws that you can't make in this league. I was trying to reiterate those things. This week, I'm talking more specifically about what he needs to do, getting the concept of being in this competitive situation under duress, what he needs to do. I've had this conversation with every QB I've coached.
Is Romo pressing?
We all press, every player does, or he freezes. You have to learn to deal with the circumstances and the environment. I'll use a boxing metaphor: a relaxed fighter is a better fighter, not lackadaisical, but physically relaxed and mentally aggressive. The same is true with football, you have to be physically relaxed but mentally you have to be aggressive.
When you just sling the ball somewhere with just hope, most of the time it's a negative play. You're under duress and you just sling it. He's not going to play too long if he keeps doing that. Every once in a while it can happen, but it can't be continuous.
Is the team unraveling?
I don't think so, but, it's a show-me game. There's too much talking in pro football. I gave them that speech in Oxnard, and again this morning, the same one. It's time to show, that's how you'll be judged.
That's the way the business is, there are so many outlets now, you might hear a question on the radio and think I'll ask him that question. It's amazing how I haven't had any questions about the redzone or 3rd down on offense this year. Last year, that table couldn't get them out quick enough.
But you're scoring on offense this year.
That's right, I've been doing this for 19 years, I try to get them [the team] to not believe what you say.
But it seems a lot of things are swirling around the team right now:
Can you name a team that hasn't experienced that this year? (Reporter - the Chargers?)
Weren't they in a 48 - 41 game, and then they were down 17 the next week. They had a couple of weeks there when things were an issue. So that guess, the Chargers, isn't accurate.
I'm not disputing that we are having problems. I don't know what swirling around means, maybe that's like a firestorm. That's OK.
But you've had some players calling each other out:
They're not calling each other out. Believe me; if they were calling each other out you would know the difference. You guys are like German Shepard's, if you hear the littlest something, you make it into Mt. Saint Helens.
It's typical in this business. You think this is a unique situation, that we're immune from problems? This is one of those times we have problems. Last week we came back against the Falcons, and everything was hunky-dory. The defense still had some problems but all you were talking about is that Marion Barber should be starting, that's the only subject discussed.
I told you I was going to do something differently and we'll see if it helps.
What is it you're going to do?
Why would I tell Detroit what we're doing. I'm making an adjustment, and we'll see if it works.
Speech to the team today?
It was a reiteration of something I believe to be the truth about the game. I come from a little purer generation. At the end of the day no matter what anybody says on the team, off the team, in the media, all the chatterboxes, it's a show-me game, put it on tape.
Can a team win in the playoffs while struggling in December?
I don't know. Should I say OK, since that's going on, I concede we won't be champs? I've seen us play better, and we're relatively healthy.
It comes down to making decisions under pressure, you try to help them with correct reads, but the game doesn't always happen the way you think it will. Occasionally you have to make a judgment as a player. If you make good judgment, you get success, if you make a bad decision, you're not successful.
Do you think you put too much on Romo's plate?
I think its human nature when you see success that you might get too... "cute" let's say. I'm the one who guards against that, I have to keep my coaches from going wild. Some of the coaches are creative, they want to try things. When you do those things, and have people doing things they're not used to doing, risk goes up. You guys and the fans like it when it's successful. But the risk goes up.
Canty and Spears?
Canty has played better the last few weeks. I expect more out of Spears. Canty is playing much better. He's not a great pass rusher but he's more active, I was generally happy with him in the Philly game, and Jason Ferguson was really good in that game.
Might you move Canty into the middle if Ratliff can't go?
Canty as the NT, backing up Ferguson? No, it won't be him, but don't ask about any others.
What concerns you about the Lions?
What concerns me here is this offense is 31% run, 69% pass offense. The formation recognition is complex, they spread you out, but it costs them a lot. They have 58 sacks and 30+ turnovers. But if you're not alert you can be beaten. Guys like Watkins and Burnett, that inexperience can hurt us.
It's a combination of Mike Martz being a high-ratio pass coach, but it's also from being behind, it makes it more so. They don't go in saying we're going to throw every time. But they threw 45 times last week in a close game. Philly didn't throw near that much.
He's had a better year this year. He seems to be in good condition, better stamina, his weight is down, and that's helped him.
Is Tony Parrish a FS or SS?
He can play either one.
Will he play this week?
There's a chance he'll play. A slightly better chance.
You said you may dress more defensive linemen for this game, is that for the pass rush?
I have to see how Ratliff is doing to do that, but it would be for the pass rush.
Does getting beat on the blitz last week make you less likely to blitz?
We got burned on one play badly, it was because of the inexperience of someone. His man started to block, he took his eyes of the player and rushed, and that's what happened. If you blitz you'll get beat, but you can't let Kitna just stand back there, he'll find the guys, he's no rookie, and he's got pretty good quality receivers.
You try to figure out the opponent's strength and weaknesses, and they have inexperience on the offensive line, hopefully we can take advantage. There are three guys that are starting, including Stephen Peterman, who don't have a lot of experience.
The Lions Roy Williams?
He's a better player this year, he knows how to play now, he's more accomplished. In my opinion he's way down the road compared to last year.
We now are going from a down game compared to some of the other ones, and now we got him in the cellar, which I don't think is true. But I've seen him play better so my expectations are that he can return to his former play with attention to detail. Compared to some of the other young QB's, what he did last week is not too bad.
Does Romo need to win games for you now?
I don't need him to win the game, but he needs to provide an element that I discussed with him, and he needs to understand how it affects to the rest of the team.
I think he has good leadership. This is playing out like I thought, but I was talking to deaf ears earlier this year. But it's not quite as down as you think, I expect he will play well again, which would be helpful.
Anytime you get behind by more than one score, you press to catch up, that can affect you at QB.
Any reason Julius' carries are down?
No reason, last week it was obvious, we were not in run mode all the time. I consciously tried to reduce his runs 5-6 weeks ago. He's not a 350 carries per year guy, he's in the range I want him, what's he at, around 250? He'll end up with 270 carries or so, and that's about what you can ask of him.
Do some players need to be involved earlier in games to get going?
Yeah I think so.
Do you think T.O. is one of those type of players?
I guess so, but I told you what happened last week. You want to get all your players involved. It's funny; I got 2 thousand yard receivers, 1 thousand yard RB, another RB with 15 TD's, and a TE with 600 yards. Tell me they aren't involved.
But it's the players saying it, not us?
I told the team it's a show-me game.
Are T.O.'s drops physical or mental?
It doesn't make a difference. I don't know, by some standards it would be a lot of drops, by others maybe not. I don't know.
What about by your standards?
I have an opinion, but I'll withhold it.
Because the press conference is over.