FRISCO, Texas — Fresh off the Cowboys' 40-0 win over New York on Sunday night, all three coordinators spent time with the media on Monday afternoon to discuss what went so right against their divisional foes to open the season.
Here were the highlights from the conversations with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and special teams coordinator John Fassel.
Diggs' Step Forward
After Dallas' playoff loss to San Francisco last season, criticism around Trevon Diggs and his physicality both in coverage and in tackling was buzzing. Going into year four, Diggs took that criticism personally and bounced back with arguably his most physical game to date in the season opener by jarring a Saquon Barkley reception loose for a DaRon Bland pick-six and a forced fumble for good measure in the second half.
"I was really proud of him for that," Quinn said. "It was a great hit, he couldn't have timed it any better on the one that Bland got the interception on. Then knocking another one out later. It's really having a mindfulness approach to get the football. He wasn't going in there to do anything other than hit and good things came out of it."
Offensive Hand Still Not Shown
There was a point in Sunday night's game where things were clearly decided – probably earlier than expected – and it allowed the offensive staff to sit back and muck their cards instead of showing their hand for the rest of their opponents to see.
For Schottenheimer, it was a good opportunity to remain mysterious offensively moving into week two and beyond.
"We were wise about what we wanted to use and what we showed and didn't show with some of our personnel packages," he said. "Those carry over nicely into the things that fit with what the Jets do. I think that's definitely the benefit. We want to be multiple, we want to make it difficult for the defense. We'll slide over the ones that fit this week, and the ones that don't fit we'll hold them."
Inside the FG Block
If you had the first touchdown of the season coming on the Cowboys' first blocked field goal return for a score since 2007, then go ahead and buy a lottery ticket on your way out.
On a play that was designed and called hours before the game started in the ballroom of the EnVue Hotel where the team stayed on Saturday night, Juanyeh Thomas and a handful of other special teamers came through to make a huge opening statement.
"It was really just a bread-and-butter call that was designed to give us information," Fassel said. "Based on what happened, it just happened to be the right call. Juanyeh lined up and he hit it. You talk about the timing of field goal block. He went two steps and he hurdled, and then he went two steps and got his hand up. He's gotta do that in about 1.25 seconds, so it was pretty awesome. Great way to start."
CB Group Much More Equipped
Last season in Green Bay, a second quarter injury to cornerback Anthony Brown helped turn the tides in favor of the Packers who stormed back and capped off yet another thriller against the Cowboys with yet another close win.
Going into this week against Aaron Rodgers, those memories still remain present, but Quinn is excited about how his cornerback group is much more equipped from a depth perspective to attack the challenge ahead.
"We were certainly disappointed in the outcome of that game," he said. "We also know that injuries are a part of it. Having the depth afforded and having a big deep crew that you can roll in with is so important. We'll see how the matchups look as we get into the week. We're pumped that [Stephon Gilmore] is here and now we got Bland added too with Noah [Igbinoghene] in that group on the outside. Then Jourdan [Lewis] is coming back too, which is good to have."
Pollard's Short Yardage Game
There were no shortage of goal line and short yardage situations on Sunday night for the Dallas offense, and Tony Pollard was the one relied upon the most when conversions were needed.
As a result, the newly minted RB1 notched two rushing touchdowns on the goal line and continued to put to bed the concerns about him putting his nose down and fighting for a few yards.
"Tony is an unbelievable competitor, and that's part of what goal line and short yardage running is," Schottenheimer said. "It's instincts, it's talent, but it's also a little bit of makeup. Heart and desire. We have no questions he can do that. He's ready for those challenges. It was cool to see him get off to a good start."
Osa's Manifested Work Ethic
The Dallas pass rush was one of the many headline positives for the Cowboys on Sunday night, as they put together seven sacks and one forced fumble on Daniel Jones. Third-year defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa was a big contributor for that final tally as he notched two sacks on opening night.
"He's always been somebody that can see the big picture," Quinn said. "He'll go to any length to put in the work to get there. He's starting to put the whole package together. His work ethic and studying of film, it's near the top of our group."
Turpin the Offensive Weapon
If you had told someone pregame that KaVontae Turpin would finish with five offensive touches including one goal line touch that saw him score a rushing touchdown in the second half, you would probably get some crazy looks.
But when the offensive staff emphasized over the preseason that they wanted to get the ball in the hands of their Pro Bowl playmaker, they meant it.
"Turp was a guy at the end of the season last year that obviously wanted to get more involved," Schottenheimer said, "There's a ton of natural ability there. What I love about Turp is his passion for the game, he just loves to play the game. I'm really proud of him for how he's learned to study the game. You look at how we moved him around last night and asked him to do different things, and for him to do it at a high level is really cool. I think he was in four or five different spots in our formation sets. When you give him the ball, there's always a chance that good things will happen."
Aubrey's Mistake and Rebound
A quiet chorus of groans could be heard from the Cowboys faithful on Sunday night inside MetLife Stadium when Brandon Aubrey missed his first career extra point attempt which extended the Cowboys' streak of converting just one of their last eight PAT attempts.
However, the rookie bounced back after what Fassel called a timing error on the miss that had Aubrey waiting longer than usual for the snap.
"It was a little bit slower last night," he said. "He got lined up and was standing there for about 12 seconds before we were actually ready to snap the ball. It was a great learning curve for him, just the timing of all the stuff. Then we came back and hit a field goal. We had a chance to talk about it after the first one about when to get yourself lined up. These are things you can't practice, real sudden change. He came back and hit four straight PATs, two field goals and eight touchbacks on kickoffs. He is a weapon."