Dallas coach Jason Garrett spoke to the Atlanta media on Wednesday.
The Falcons (4-4) are set to host the Cowboys (5-3) at 4:25 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in major NFC showdown.
Here’s what Garrett had to say:
On balancing the Ezekiel Elliot situation: “The biggest thing that we try to emphasis to our team is focus on controlling what you can control. We really preach it. We try to live it as coaches. Live it as players and as a football team. There are a number of different distractions that we all have to deal with. At the end of the, if you lock in on controlling what you can control, you play your best. Our team has done that. Zeke has done a really good job of that. There a lot of things that are out of our control and we don’t really concern ourselves with.”
On Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman: “There are really, really good players. They challenge every time that ball is snapped. They are really good runners. They run hard. They are athletic. They’ve got great change of direction, speed, quickness and explosiveness. They do a really good job with their scheme and to have two guys of that caliber on the same time that keep coming at you, it’s a real challenge for a run defense.”
On Freeman and Coleman as pass catchers: “Same thing, they are really, really good. They are complete players. They are versatile. They used them a lot of different ways. They throw it to them out of the backfield. They are very good route runners and they are very good running with it after the catch. They present challenges every where.”
On what he’s from the 2017 Matt Ryan: “I just think he’s a really, really good player and has been for a long time. He’s smart. He’s obviously very talented throwing the football. He has a clear idea about what he wants to do with their patterns verses the coverage that he sees. You can’t fool him very much because of how quickly he picks things up and how quickly it registers and he’s able to get the ball out of his hands. He just a big time player. I know he’s a great leader for their team and the organization. I hold him in the highest regard.”
On the Falcons defense: “They are a really good defense. All you have to do is watch the tape. They are really good on the front. They’ve got a lot of really active defensive linemen who are good against the run and who can affect the quarterback. The linebackers are fast and make a lot of plays all over the field. Really good corners outside. Very good cover guys and the safeties are active and physical. They are pretty darn complete across the board. I think that they are really well coached unit. They play hard. They play the right way.”
On where Julio Jones ranks in the league and over time: “I don’t like to compare guys to other players. But there is not question that he’s an elite receiver and has been from minute one. He’s such a difference maker. He’s so complete. He’s a big target and he runs great routes. He’s quick. He’s fast. He’s explosive. Has great hands. Makes contested catches. He makes play over his head. He runs with the ball after the catch. He’s just a difficult guy to defend. Week-in and week-out since he’s been a rookie in this league, he’s been getting a lot of attention and he keeps continuing to be productive. He’s just a great football player.”
On the challenge of facing Jones: “He’s an elite player. You certainly recognized the challenge playing against him and the relationship that he and Matt Ryan have and how well they’ve played together through the years. It’s all over the tape and you certainly have to be at your best when you play against those guys. It’s hard to defend them.”
On Dallas defensive end Demarcus Lawrence: “One of the biggest things that he’s had to deal with was the injuries. Last year, he was banged up pretty good and just fought through it and played for us. He wasn’t nearly as productive last year as he’s been this year. But that was big for our team and big for him to keep battling and to fight through it. He got himself healthy after the season and had a really good offseason for us. He’s played really well right from the start this year. He’s been very productive making sacks on the quarterbacks, but even in last week’s game against Kansas City, he didn’t register a sack, but he was around him and harassing him. He’s really made a positive impact on our defense. He’s drawn a lot of attention from opposing offensive lines. That’s given other guys on our front opportunities as well. He’s playing awfully well.”
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