If Kyle Orton is the guy this weekend, you've coached against him in 2010 and in the season finale, he had three picks in that game and completed less than 50% of his passes. What do you remember about
coaching against him?
BILL DAVIS: I know Kyle Orton is a highly efficient quarterback. He started 70 games in the NFL. He has a great presence and sees the field well. He's always distributed the ball equally to the open guys. I think some guys have favorites, some don't. Kyle Orton is a great system quarterback in that he understands the coverage and what position in the routes, and he does a great job of getting the ball out of his hands and accurately throwing to the open guy. So we've got a great challenge no matter who the quarterback is. But Kyle Orton can start for a lot of teams in the NFL.
What was the situation yesterday afternoon when that report surfaced? Were you already deep into preparing for Tony Romo? Did you have to reassess what you were doing in any way? Did you just look at their offense as the same offense?
BILL DAVIS: Well, one thing with all the injuries we've faced this year against opponents, you always prepare for their starters to start and be at their best. From there you worked now for instance, this week we say let's put a lot of emphasis on Orton as the back up, because we know it's a proposition we have no control of, and we have to be prepared for both. I don't think the offense changes too much with one or the other. I think we're prepared for both of them, and we're prepared to get the Dallas Cowboys the absolute best no matter who is the quarterback.
They're trying to create the illusion that Tony Romo could play. Obviously they want the other team to prepare for both. Does that take anything away from your preparation to have to prepare for both rather than just Tony Romo?
BILL DAVIS: It does more when the quarterbacks are vastly different. When there is one athletic runner that wants to run instead of throw. But I think these two quarterbacks are similar. Tony Romo probably extends the play more than most in the NFL. That is one of the talents that he has is when the initial play is broken down to improvise. But both of them, even Tony is running the offense efficiently. 30 touchdowns and a few interceptions. So he was having a great year. If he's healthy, we're ready for his best. And if Orton is the quarterback, then we're ready for their best. We'll give them ours.
It seems the back up quarterbacks nowadays are doing a better job. Maybe a decade ago when you lose your starting quarterback that was not the case. Have you noticed that as a game planner and defensive coordinator that when teams are on back ups, especially this year, that they've done well?
BILL DAVIS: Absolutely. I don't think there is a big dropoff anymore. There is such a great importance and emphasis on the back up quarterback. I think Dallas has done a great job of signing Kyle Orton. He can be a starter for a lot of teams in the NFL. They've got him as the back up role, and we anticipate you look at them as both starting quarterbacks, even though he's in a back up role right now, but 70 starts in the NFL is a starting quarterback.
Do you know why the backup quarterbacks seem to be doing better?
BILL DAVIS: I don't know the answer. I think, I don't know. I'd be guessing. I think they're all well prepared especially being in the system for a while. In practice and in the system, I think he'll be fine. And I think he generally will.
When you gather your defensive unit this morning in that quarterback situation, what did you say to them to prepare for the week and for this game?
BILL DAVIS: One of the things we emphasize is the offensive scheme we don't think will change that greatly. No matter which quarterback we get. We've prepared for both. We've played against Tony already this season. So we have a good feel how to rush him and how he moves in the pocket.
What about the emotional roller coaster maybe?
BILL DAVIS: I think we've learned a pretty valuable lesson against Minnesota, and it's fresh in our mind. I don't think not that we took them lightly at all. But we know we have to step up. No matter who plays. It has to be at our absolute peak. Those are things out of our control. We can control the emotion and the work that we do today and the preparation, and what we bring to the field Sunday night. Just don't worry about what we can't control.
What lesson did you learn at Minnesota?
BILL DAVIS: Well, we prepared. We didn't execute at the highest level we could have on that day. It wasn't because of lack of preparation or poor preparation. It was somehow on some level, we just didn't step up that night or that afternoon and get it done.
There is a story about how you talked about how teams come out flat and why they do. So that is something that you're trying to guard against.
BILL DAVIS: I think the whole NFL is. If you look around, you've had a lot of teams that you can't explain why that team didn't play at the absolute top. But it's a 16 week season. You have the dips. I think it's something you're aware of, and I think we're in a different place right now as a team going into this game.
Does defending their big guy Dez Bryant, is that similar to what you had to do against Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald?
BILL DAVIS: Absolutely. We're going to get some top scoring offenses with some big receivers. It kind of goes hand in hand. All these scoring offenses have big receivers that have wide catch radiuses. The fact we've played the Dallas Cowboys before, we have a little more of a feel. Arizona is a little more of an unknown, and Detroit. Now we've played Dallas once, and that will help us, I believe. It's still a great challenge in one of the top scoring offenses in the league.
Do you see them putting the ball in DeMarco Murray's hands more with Orton as a starter?
BILL DAVIS: They might. I believe they were going to do that. We were anticipating them to do that anyway. But they might do more. Only they can answer that question. We've got to prepare equally for the run game and the pass game. Each game takes on its own life. The score takes as the game goes on, we're constantly moving in and out of run defenses, pass defenses, so that is something we constantly do. Whether they gave him the ball more or not, we'll be prepared to it.
As a follow up, can you explain what the scene was like upstairs at 4:30 yesterday in terms of how you found out about Romo, what you did at the moment you found out?
BILL DAVIS: It really wasn't earth shattering. Anybody injured, we don't believe it at first. Most of the time when injuries happen early in the week, it's not that drastic because we still think there is a possibility of playing. So do we say take a longer look at Kyle Orton? Absolutely. But we're going to prepare for all of their weapons. He's the main guy, but he's also the guy that we'll prepare equally for.
The problems you've been having on third down, especially on third and long. Do you see any common threads there?
BILL DAVIS: No, it's execution of technique. There are a couple calls I'd like to have back on some of those. It's just executing the defense. We've got to get better in the red zone. Got to get better on third down. But, no, there is not a common thread.
What are you seeing out of Trent Cole? I know we're asking a lot about the conversion to outside linebacker and sacks. He's got like seven in the last four or five games. But just what he's been doing lately.
BILL DAVIS: Trent Cole, I said this early in the season when he wasn't getting sacks. On tape, Trent Cole is the same guy for 15 weeks. He is collapsing that side of the pocket over and over again. Early in the season, it wasn't resulting in a sack. But he was still disrupting. Now he's doing the exact same thing he was doing earlier, only he's got a couple sacks from it. So the sack stats to me we don't get real excited about a guy or really down on a guy off the sack number. It's how much is he making the quarterback move off the spot? Is he going against tackles and doing it? Is he going against the running back? Who is he beating? Trent Cole has been going against tackles and collapsing that side. We're glad to see him get rewarded with sacks, but he's not playing any better or worse than he was earlier in the season.
Do you think it's easier or harder when you have a rematch to prepare for? You know the chess game or the rematch, do you think it's easier or harder in general?
BILL DAVIS: I think it's an extension of the first game. You just earn every game. The first half a lot of times is different from the second half. It's just like the game got extended. They're making adjustments to what they were doing in the first game. We're making adjustments to what they were doing. As they change, we'll change. It's just an ongoing I look at it as an extension of Game 1 with an extra four quarters.
So what is the situation with Earl Wolff right now?
BILL DAVIS: He's day to day, and I believe he's going to be okay. But in that game we made the decision we were going to rotate. Him being healthy. But he tweaked the knee and was feeling a little awkward after the diving break up, we decided why risk it? Let's see how the game plays out. If we can hold them and get more reps this week, we'll be okay. So going forward, we'll see how his health is doing and make decisions from there.
Is the hope to get him back in that starting job when he's healthy?
BILL DAVIS: The hope is to have the best 11 players out there playing. If Earl is one of those 11, then absolutely. But the best 11 will play. If he can work back in there, great. If not, we just need the best 11 out there.
Is Jason Witten the best tight end you'll face?
BILL DAVIS: He's the most savvy. He's a savvy vet that catches a lot of balls. He's had a great career. He's probably, of the tight ends we've faced, the top guy, yeah.
When you came here, what were your thoughts about Mychal Kendricks? How far has he come this season in his development?
BILL DAVIS: I think Mychal Kendricks is a great athlete first. I think he loves the game of football. He's young and raw. He still has a lot of growth within this defense and in his career. He's got a great mentor in DeMeco [Ryans], and DeMeco is kind of showing him how to do it. He's learned a new system. He had a new one his rookie year, obviously, and now this one. I think he's really settling into knowing his job, his assignments, the techniques we're asking him to do. He's getting better and better each week and he has a lot of room to grow.
Is he much of a natural position inside?
BILL DAVIS: Yes.
You have guys like Brandon Boykin, Fletcher Cox, Kendricks, all second year guys. As a rookie it's hard enough to learn a new system, but you have a new system, new coaches. For a second year guy is it almost like being a rookie again?
BILL DAVIS: The hard part is teaching them the new system. The good part is he's still raw. Can you mold him and get him into some of the techniques, the stances, the habits that we like. The older the guy, the more experienced the guy that kind of gets set in their ways. So it's got good and bad to it. The quicker you can teach them the verbiage and techniques you want. But also I like the rawness sometimes where you can mold a guy the way you want him.
Your front seven, you do a lot of stunting even on blitzes and runs. Has that always been kind of a back bone of your defenses coming up through Pittsburgh?
BILL DAVIS: You know what, it's a mix. Everything is a mix. We've got all kinds of ideas. We've got a great coaching staff. The defensive staff and the experiences, all the coordinators that we have, we've all done a lot of things over time. Each week we compartmentalize what is going to work best against this group. Their run, their pass, their protections. I think collectively we come to a conclusion of what our players do best. That is part of the learning curve of the season. Who are these guys. How much can we give them? How much or how little can they grasp and execute on Sunday? That is the key. What can they do on Sunday? I think right now we've got a good mix going.
Does it take a certain type of athlete to execute as much as you guys do?
BILL DAVIS: A disciplined one. I don't think there is a body type you're looking for.
Well, they were on the move and moving around. So I didn't know if athleticism over the big body guys matters?
BILL DAVIS: No, I think their foot work matters more than their athleticism. They do a great job using blitzes and stunts. But it's the technique that makes them work or not. It's a league of great athleticism everywhere. The details are what we're getting better and better at every week.
How can you explain how the cornerbacks seem to play better in these match ups you call tough match ups? And then some of the more favorable match ups they don't play as well?
BILL DAVIS: In the NFL I don't know about favorable or unfavorable. I don't know that you're ever overmatched. That that guy's better than you or you're that much better than the other guy. It's who bring it's to the field on Sunday and executes their technique with the passion and aggressiveness that we'd like to have. We've had ups and downs. I don't think it's attached to who they're playing. I think it's that game and how we approach it.