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Thursday, October 10, 2013
Behind Enemy Lines: Jason Garrett

By John Keim

Dallas coach Jason Garrett was in a chatty mood Wednesday, which is always good for a conference call. Quarterback Tony Romo? Not so much. Of course, it didn’t help that Romo spoke around the same time as Robert Griffin III -- guess which one the local media picked to attend? That meant a Redskins staffer had to ask a list of questions to Romo.

Garrett
Garrett
So Romo wasn’t so hot; Garrett was pretty good. Here’s what the Cowboys coach touched on:

Robert Griffin III: “He’s obviously a very good player. He makes a lot of good plays from the pocket. He still gets outside the pocket, either by design or spontaneously, and makes plays on the move. He’s a young quarterback in starts and in time at this level, but he plays very maturely, and he gets better and better it seems like every week. He’s certainly a dangerous guy. They have a lot of weapons around him. They have a good running game. So there are a lot of challenges we are facing on offense.”

Griffin’s legs:  “People have been asking me that and it seems like he’s running a little bit less than he did last year in his rookie season, but still he’s a very dangerous athlete and he’s very comfortable out in space, so making sure you contain him and keep him in the pocket is critical, and that’s what you’re trying to do every week. When the quarterback does have the athletic ability, you want to limit those plays they make out in space.”

Switching to the 4-3: “Unfortunately for us, three of our top defensive lineman are out in [defensive end] Anthony Spencer, [defensive end] Tyrone Crawford and [nose tackle] Jay Ratliff, so a lot of that discussion that we had in terms of making the conversion involved those guys’ ability to convert and play on a four-man line. [Defensive end] DeMarcus Ware and [nose tackle] Jason Hatcher are two of our veteran players who, we feel like, it suits them well and they’ve been acclimating to it over the course of the early part of the season. Similarly with the linebackers, you know 3-4 linebackers, depending on how you play the 3-4 scheme, are a little bit of a different animal than 4-3 guys and we feel like [linebackers] Sean Lee and Bruce Carter and Ernie Sims and Justin Durant, those guys fit well into a 4-3 scheme as well. We’re still learning it .... I think we feel comfortable with it.”

On allowing three quarterbacks to throw for more than 400 yards:  “We’ve run into some good quarterbacks, first of all. A couple of weeks ago we went out to San Diego and faced [Chargers quarterback] Phillip Rivers who is playing awfully well, and then this past week we played against [Denver Broncos quarterback] Peyton Manning, and what they are doing in Denver on offense is historic and Peyton Manning has a heck of a lot to do with it. They have a lot of weapons and he certainly knows how to use them. Having said that … we just need to shore it up and just be a little bit more consistent in how we are covering people and how we’re defending them and make some plays on the back end. A big part of the game last week against Denver was their ability to convert on third downs. They were 9-of-13 in those third-down situations.”

Criticism of Romo after last week: “A lot of times they are saying really good things about him and you’ve got to block that out and similarly with some of the criticism he takes. He did a lot of great things in the game last week. At the end of the ballgame we didn’t get it done. He didn’t get it done. The team didn’t get it done. Denver did and we all have to live with that and you have to learn from it. Tony understands that. He’s been doing this a long time and he understands all that comes with the position and what he has to do to focus on being his best.”