FRISCO, Texas — The Cowboys head into their bye week sitting in much better shape than almost anyone would have predicted after Week 1. After the Cowboys lost Dak Prescott for five weeks, Cooper Rush and the defense helped keep the ship afloat before Prescott returned to end the first half of their schedule at 6-2.
A 49-29 victory over the Bears on Sunday served as the exclamation point for it all, with all three phases of the game having massive performances from key players. This is what the three coordinators had to say about it:
Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn:
- Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn talked about having his players making plays" rather than "chasing plays" on Monday. While he admitted that the method of coaching is not exactly a blanket for every player, he did point out that Jayron Kearse had a very good game by staying very consistent in the game plan with his eight tackles and sack.
- For as wonderful as the Cowboys' defense has been this season, its' one Achilles heel has been the run defense. Against the Bears the Cowboys allowed 250 rushing yards, though Quinn said that allowing the touchdowns bothers him more than anything. But Quinn did acknowledge the run defense is something to be addressed. "Making our hits in our run game is definitely one of the areas that we'll attack and address," Quinn said.
- With so many key contributors on defense heading into the bye week banged up, there were a couple of rookies who got thrown into the fire against the Bears. Both CB DaRon Bland and LB Damone Clark saw significant time due to the injuries suffered by Jourdan Lewis in Week 7 and Anthony Barr against Chicago, and Quinn said he thinks both we'll benefit from that playing time. "They're on the job training is happening now," Quinn said. "So I think, as we're going through with those two, they're just going to keep getting better and better as it goes."
Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore:
- Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore helped illustrate the Cowboys to four touchdowns on each of their first four possessions on Sunday, namely because of an up-tempo offensive approach. Moore characterized the approach as a way to jump start the offense. "Certainly temp is something that we love," Moore said. "A lot of these guys are used to it. Most guys coming out of college recently have played in tempo. So it's somewhat of a comfort level."
- When asked if Sunday's performance where the Cowboys put up six offensive touchdowns and nearly 450 yards was something to build off heading into the bye week, Moore felt that they could use the Bears' win as a confidence builder to spring into the second half of the season. "Confidence is real," Moore said. "It's a very powerful thing in football… We're right truly around the midpoint of [the season] so hopefully it's bouncing off and taking off opportunity."
- Though the Cowboys were without Ezekiel Elliott due to the knee injury, Tony Pollard was more than impactful with his 131 yards and three touchdowns. However, the biggest concern without Elliott was his ability to pass protect. But Moore identified two key blocks that Pollard picked up that caught his attention. "Tony had two really nice blocks," Moore said. "We had a free play where one of the interior defensive lineman wasn't accounted for… And then one time a guy got one on Terence [Steele] and he was there to clean it up."
Special Teams' Coordinator John Fassel:
- Special Teams' coordinator John Fassel said he has not considered managing KaVontae Turpin's workload after taking a hard hit towards the end of the Bears' game on Sunday, saying that he needs the reps. "I haven't thought about that," Fassel said. "He needs to be back there and there's limited opportunities anyways."
- With all of the guys that the Cowboys saw get banged up on Sunday, they were fortunate to see a handful of rookies step in and perform well. Fassel singled out Damone Clark who filled in for Anthony Barr after he left the game with a hamstring injury. Clark was returning from his offseason back surgery that was expected to keep him out all season. "It's cool to see some guys get opportunities… It's fun to see them play as much as they can." Fassel siad. "I was really proud of Damone for playing all four phases in critical positions."