Q. You have never been in a situation in the NFL where you play a division opponent twice in such a short time. Did you look at that when you were going into play the Cowboys the first time and did you pull some stuff back? How did you approach it? COACH KELLY: Did we hold stuff back? No. Our goal in the first game was we've got to do everything we possibly can to beat a really good football team. So, we didn't look at it in any way. That's just the way it happens. We played a game, played another team in between, and then we have to play them again. So, we didn't really overanalyze it.
Q. What is the biggest challenge of playing a team a second time? You don't do it a lot in college.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, you don't do it at all in college unless you have a matchup in a bowl game or a conference championship game. But I don't really think it's a challenge. I think everybody has the same thing. They have the same amount of time to prepare for us and we have the same amount of time. It was two weeks since the last time we played them. Just go play. I think you can paralyze yourself by trying to overanalyze it [by saying,] 'They think that we know that they think this. So then we think that they think that this will [happen].' We're going to go play. I've got great respect for Rod [Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli] and Monte [Cowboys assistant head coach/defense Monte Kiffin] on defense, and what Jason [Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett] and [Cowboys passing game coordinator] Scott Linehan and [Cowboys offensive coordinator/offensive line coach] Bill Callahan are doing on offense. I would imagine [Cowboys RB] DeMarco Murray is probably going to carry the ball a lot against us in our game. I think they'll probably try to throw the ball to [Cowboys WR] Dez Bryant in our game. They'll probably try to find the tight end a lot in third-down situations in our game. We'll give the ball to [RB] LeSean McCoy in our game. I mean, it's kind of similar to what happened the last time. It's just about really going out and executing and which team can execute better and which team can block better and which team can tackle better.
Q. What can you tell us about S Jerome Couplin who you signed earlier today?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he was with the Detroit Lions. Was active for eight games. Big, tall safety. We think he's got potential. The only way you can get a guy like that is you have to add him to your active roster. You can't take somebody from a practice squad to a practice squad.
Q. Does Couplin's signing indicate that DB Jaylen Watkins will go back to cornerback full time now?
COACH KELLY: I have no idea. We'll have to work [Couplin] out and see where his skill set is. He could be a dime for us. There are a lot of different things. He's got a unique skill set. It's one of those deals. The only way you can acquire a player from your practice squad is if you put them on your active roster.
Q. You have signed two safeties this season, Couplin and S Chris Prosinski, who weren't with the team in training camp. Are you looking for more from S Ed Reynolds on the practice squad?
COACH KELLY: That has nothing to do with it. If you read that into it, it means absolutely nothing. We could not get Jerome unless we put him on our active roster, we couldn't bring him over to our practice squad. That's just the way the league rules are. So I think if people are looking at that, it means absolutely nothing about it. If we need to have a safety go play next week, then we can make a maneuver and make Ed active, and put somebody down.
Q. What do you think made McCoy so successful in that first game against Dallas?
COACH KELLY: I thought we blocked really well and I thought our offensive line had a really good game. And I thought LeSean hit the holes really well. So it was a combination of both of those things.
Q. If you look at Cowboys QB Tony Romo, he has six more games between games than he had last time. How do you think that will affect him in terms of his health and what do you see from him?
COACH KELLY: We're preparing for speed option. A lot of quarterback power runs now that he has the extra days to go.
Q. That doesn't sound like a very efficient use of practice time.
COACH KELLY: But that's what happens when you play people the second time, you try to make up things that you think they'll do. They are going to do what they do. But with any player, when you have a couple extra days of rest, that helps you. We're preparing for Tony Romo at his best, and when Tony's at his best, we have to be at our best.
Q. Yesterday, defensive coordinator Bill Davis said that he is expecting to see a different Romo. Were there things on film from the last game where you said, 'He doesn't look like the guy we've seen previously on tape?'
COACH KELLY: No, I didn't say that.
Q. Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner suggested that the Seattle defense knew what plays were coming and after the San Francisco game a couple of their players had mentioned that as well. I'm wondering about the philosophical approach on offense. Do you prefer to do what you do well and just executing there versus keeping defenses off balance?
COACH KELLY: I think everybody kind of knows what's going on. You have tendencies when you get through 13 games. We knew what defense they were going to line up in too, but it's still about executing and playing football.
Q. Statistically, the Cowboys are a vastly different team depending on if they are home or away. From looking at tape, is there anything that you can see to explain that?
COACH KELLY: No and I don't think I have to. I mean, I don't really care. I mean, we don't look at, 'Hey, how did they play in a home game as opposed to an away game.' We are just trying to prepare for them. Last year we were 6‑2 away, and only 4‑4 at home. We didn't wrestle and go over it. Now this year we're better at home than we are away. You can analyze metrics all you want. I don't know what they are compared to night games and day games, but we haven't spent much time on that one either.
Q. You're pretty good at night games.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we hope that holds true because I think we're playing at night, right? But it was a day [game] the last time we played them, right? Or twilight?
Q. Late afternoon.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, late afternoon. But with the roof closed, we may have to check with the roof closed because that may be a factor. So we'll see if we can get that metric and take a look at that.
Q. How is WR Josh Huff coming along with his hip injury?
COACH KELLY: We'll see. He was limited yesterday; tried to do a couple things. He's going to try to run around today, but I don't know if he'll make it through the whole thing. We don't really know yet.
Q. Is TE Trey Burton getting better?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, Burt was full yesterday.
Q. You mentioned on Monday that you're seeing more zone this year than you did last year. What is your theory on why that is?
COACH KELLY: Well, last year we set an NFL record for explosive plays. So I didn't think anybody thought they would play us the same way. So usually if the ball is getting thrown over your head, I think people are going to back up more.
Q. You did say that you were going to place an emphasis on getting your receivers to beat man coverage.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we still see man coverage. Last year we saw 60 percent man, 40 percent zone. Right now we see 58 percent zone, 42 percent man. So you've got to be able to defeat both.
Q. Generally, what kind of zones do defenses throw at you? Is it one specific type? Is it two-deep?
COACH KELLY: Most of the time we see a single-high safety. We've seen that 79 percent of the time last year, 78 percent of the time this year.
Q. Although you lost last week, is there anything you have to guard against from an overconfident team after blowing Dallas out two weeks ago and thinking that way this time? COACH KELLY: No, I don't ever get that feeling from this team being an overconfident team. I think any confidence that they've derived is through their preparation during the week leading up to the team that we're playing. And that's what this group really has. They understand the rhythm that we have to get into. The last time we played them it was a nontraditional week in terms of what we had to do, but I thought they handled that really well. This is a normal week for us with a Tuesday introduction, Wednesday is a third-down day, Thursday being a red-zone day, Friday – kind of getting into the same rhythm. At this point in time, having played 13 games, I think they kind of understand what they have to do from a preparation standpoint.
Q. The zone and man you were mentioning, I think you've seen consistently all year?
COACH KELLY: It depends on the team though. When you go overall, those are the numbers for the overall year. Right now it's been 58 percent zone, 42 percent man. The last time we played the Dallas Cowboys they were 61 percent zone going into the game, but they played us in the game 55 percent man. So they played us a little bit more man than they had shown during the year, but it was still a 55‑45 split.
Q. Why do you think you had so many big plays in the first eight games and not as many since? COACH KELLY: Because when we first came in, everybody said let's play man and then we threw the ball over their heads and they didn't do that much anymore.
Q. So you started off the year seeing a lot more man?
COACH KELLY: This year or last year?
Q. This year, I mean. When Nick Foles was the quarterback you had seven or eight throws of 50 or more yards?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, there were a lot of times in zone coverage people just dropped us and there were guys wide open deep down the field and they just didn't account for them. Once everybody gets an idea what people are trying to do, they get a little bit closer in coverage.
Q. What goes into the three players you pick as captains every game?
COACH KELLY: They're our squad leaders that our players pick and we just rotate those guys.
Q. So it's the players that choose?
COACH KELLY: The players pick squad leaders at each position. I think in the O‑line it was [G/T Todd] Herremans and [C Jason] Kelce. Nick was at quarterback, [Darren] Sproles the running back, [Brent] Celek at the tight end, Mac [Jeremy Maclin] and [Riley] Cooper at wide receiver. [DE] Cedric Thornton and [DE] Brandon Bair on the D-line, DeMeco [Ryans] was the inside linebacker, Connor Barwin was the outside linebacker. Cary [CB Cary Williams] and Malcolm [S Malcolm Jenkins] were in the secondary. Dorenbos [LS Jon Dorenbos] and maybe Maragos [S Chris Maragos] were at the special teams and then we just rotate whichever guys go out.
Q. So it's not about the opponent or anything of that nature? It's never ‑‑
COACH KELLY: About what?
Q. About the opponent. You don't pick captains based on who you're playing against?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we actually have studied who does a better job of staring down, because then we get what their captains are going to be like. We try to match up heights, like who can stare them down better. [Laughter]
Q. When DeMeco Ryans was a captain against Houston, there are certain games where players have a connection and I didn't know if that was something that factored into it?
COACH KELLY: I don't even pick them, so I'm not that deep.
Q. So a year ago at this time you said that you were hearing from a lot of veterans and they felt as healthy as they had in their entire careers. What kind of feedback are you getting the second time around?
COACH KELLY: I think our guys are relatively healthy. We don't sit around and talk about it, but we monitor our guys every single day. They have individual meetings every single day in terms of where they are, and I think overall we're very healthy. But we have lost players; last year we didn't put players on IR and this year we have.
Q. What about more of the nagging types of injuries?
COACH KELLY: I think our players are really good at that, and really they deserve the credit because they do such a great job in their own maintenance of themselves. They understand that we give them the tools to do it, but they still have to do it themselves and it takes a lot of work to recover from a National Football League game and prepare yourself to play the next week. But we've got a bunch of guys that understand the importance of that and really do that very well.
Q. The Cowboys have actually changed their schedule this year to one more similar to yours in terms of practicing on Tuesday. Did you know that and have you heard of any other teams following what you do?
COACH KELLY: No, I did not know that.
Q. In your regards to the offensive line, are you concerned with the way the Seahawks handled the blocking on Sunday? Does that give other teams any sort of model of what they can do?
COACH KELLY: No, it was a lot of one‑on‑ones. When it broke down, it was a lot of one‑on‑ones. So [Seahawks DE] Michael Bennett's a really good football player. [Seahawks DE Cliff] Avril's a really good football player. They were in some one-on-one situations and they won. A lot of times in this game, that's what everything comes down to. It comes down to one‑on‑one situations and who was better. They were obviously better than us on Sunday.
Q. Against Dallas the first time, your defensive line did a really good job against their offensive line. Are there things you guys can take away from that and use again this time?
COACH KELLY: I think it's the same thing. I think they're going to do what they do, and we're going to do what we do. Hopefully we can be as successful again, but I know they're going to give us their best shot. And I think that will be a really interesting matchup, their O‑line versus our D‑line.
Q. Do you get a sense from your players and coaches this week of the magnitude of this game? Are you guys able to block that out and just say, 'It's the Cowboys. It's a game,' and not worry about anything else?
COACH KELLY: No, but I think we have the same magnitude no matter what because it's always on the line. I don't think one game is more significant than any other game. If you didn't prepare and win nine games to this point, this game would mean absolutely nothing. You just can't wake up one day and say, 'Hey this game is really important this week,' and then that diminishes the game the next week. But every game comes down to – and in this league because everything is so close, every game you play, no matter if it was the opening game of the year or it's this game this week, our whole mantra has been it's always on the line no matter who you're playing and when you're playing them.