Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones joined the G-Bag Nation on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM] recently to talk about his team ahead of their game vs. the Minnesota Vikings Sunday. Here are some of the highlights.
How much better do you expect Andy Dalton to play?
Jones: “I think any time you get Zack Martin back in the lineup to help them out and get some continuity there, which I think we’re starting to see a little bit of that against the Steelers. Then, I think he’ll thrive in a situation like that. Obviously we got to continue to focus on running the football, and I think Andy will go out there and really execute for our offense.”
Is the defense’s improvement more about players playing better, scheme being better?
Jones: “I think it’s the full body of work. I think it’s a little bit of our players getting their hands around what Coach [Mike] Nolan and his players are trying to accomplish. I think it’s, as they do that, they faster and they play better. And I think certainly the coaches are getting to know our players better and they’re adjusting some of their scheme thoughts to the players. So, I do feel like we put together two better games in terms of the defensive side of the ball. There’s no moral victories. We didn’t win either one of those games, so, we got to continue to get better. But we’ve had a great week of practice on the defensive side of the ball as well, and fully expect that we’ll go out and play well.”
Bill Parcells said you know what your team is when you get to thanksgiving. What is your team?
Jones: “I think we’re a team that gets better every week. Certainly I think when you’ve — this unprecedented time. I think anytime you had the challenges we had with the new staff not getting your hands on the players until late in the game in August. And then having some, for us, unprecedented injuries in terms of the amount of, if you want to quantify it that way, the amount of cap space we have on IR. We certainly had good optionality in terms of who we bring in and who’s playing right now. Obviously Garrett Gilbert did a great job after being in camp for about 10 days. So, all of those things are challenges. I think if you’re having your normal year I would totally agree with Coach Parcells like that in terms of how he put it out there. But I do think we’ve had our challenges and this is a team that gets better each week, and it’s crucial that we do that as we move forward.
Do you guys think there is an opportunity against the Vikings pass defense that you could make big plays?
Jones: “I do. I think we got some great opportunities here, and we just got to execute. It’s what we been preaching all year. When you have a lot of guys moving in and out of the lineup, we all know an offensive line, you want that offensive line to work in unison. They’re a group of five. When they all play together you certainly — you make the right calls and you get your line in the position, the best possible position to protect the quarterback, make the blocks you need for the run game, all that is critical. We’ve lacked a little bit of that continuity this year. Certainly no excuses, but as we move forward, hopefully we’ll have that continuity and we’ll play better.”
Jerry says Ezekiel Elliott is the best player on the team. What do you think?
Jones: “He’s certainly up there at the top. As we all know our standards are high when we came into this season, and there are certainly guys not out there right now, whether it’s a Tyron Smith or a Dak Prescott or a La’el Collins, those guys are special. But you mentioned D-Law. But one guy that I’d put right there with Zeke and certainly I put Zeke up at the very top as well. But Zack Martin is one of those guys who’s hard to beat as a football player. He plays on the offensive line, so, you’re not going to get the accolades that these skill players do or these players on defense who make plays on the ball, whether it’s putting pressure on the passer or intercepting the ball, but certainly I put Zack Martin right up there with Zeke.”