IRVING, Texas – It's not so much about the call for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli – just that his defense is ready to run that call when the Eagles get to the line.
"Our job as coaches is to make sure the calls are in quick for them – that's No. 1," he said. "And our No. 1 job is 'ball is ready, we're ready' – how to get these guys in position to play."
The Cowboys struggled Sunday night when confronted with some no-huddle looks by the Giants. As problematic as that was, Marinelli said Philadelphia's offense is going to move even faster. That's why he's most concerned with making sure his players are in position and ready for what's coming.
"It doesn't have to be the perfect call, it's getting the call so every man can get himself in stance and when the ball is snapped we're in position to play football," he said. "That's the goal. That's what we're trying to accomplish."
Marinelli was not pleased with his unit's performance in the first half against the Giants, and he let them know about it. Having reviewed the tape, he said the two biggest improvements the Cowboys need to make are simple ones – tackle better and get off the field.
"I thought it came down to our tackling. We, as a defense, we didn't tackle as sharp as we have been – especially in the first half," he said. "The rush and cover wasn't quite – we had some 3rd-and-8, 3rd-and-9 situations, and we have to convert on that. Coaches and players both, we all have to do that."
Thursday's game will send the winner into first place in the NFC East, and it will set someone up with the inside track to the postseason. It's also a bit of a meaningful milestone for a Dallas organization that has seen some frustrating seasons in the recent past.
A win against Philadelphia would give the Cowboys their ninth win of the season – guaranteeing them a winning record for the first time since 2009.
Not that any of this phases them, however. Even Dez Bryant, who has never enjoyed a winning season in his NFL career, wasn't impressed with that statistic, preferring to focus on the long term goal.
Don't mean nothing. Like I said – 8-3, 9-3, 10-3, 12-3 – that don't get you nowhere," he said. "All 32 teams got one goal at the end of the year, and that's trying to win the Super Bowl. That's the biggest thing that could be on a team's mind. You've got to take it one game at a time and go from there."
No Place Like Home?
Common logic dictates that a team should struggle in a loud, hostile road environment, while it's easier to succeed within the confines of its home stadium.
That obviously hasn't been the case for the Cowboys, who are a sterling 5-0 on the road this season and a middling 3-3 in their home games. Dallas lost homes games by double digits to San Francisco and Arizona, and they dropped an overtime game to Washington on Oct. 27.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the .500 record at AT&T Stadium is far more about the way the Cowboys have played than anything pertaining to the environment.
"I don't think there's any grand conclusion that you can make about that. Think about what we did in each of those games," he said. "When you do things that winning teams do, whether you're playing at home, on the road, on the moon or in the parking lot, typically you win games. And when you don't do those things, regardless of where you're playing, teams in this league are too good. You probably won't be successful."
Garrett has a point. The Cowboys are a putrid - in turnover differential at home, highlighted by their awful, four-turnover performance in the season opener against San Francisco. On the road, they're an impressive +3, and they've forced two or more turnovers in three of those five road trips.
One positive, though: Philadelphia ranks 26th in the league in turnover differential at -8. Mark Sanchez has thrown at least two interceptions in three of his four appearances with the Eagles.
That's a stat that could come in handy if the Cowboys are to improve their home record.
"We just need to stay focused and do what we have to do. Things will get right," Bryant said.