Potent Quotables - Picking Up the Pieces of a Season Lost

DENVER BRONCOS HEAD COACH JOSH McDANIELS

General

"I'll start off by congratulating the Chiefs. Coach Haley and their football team did a great job obviously preparing for today after playing just a month ago. They did a nice job of game planning and they played very hard today and obviously played better than we did today. It's a disappointing ending to the season. I'm proud of the effort and attitude our team had this year. Certainly far from the finish we're looking for. "

On what happened in the last ten weeks

"There's a lot of things that go into being able to sustain success and we didn't do that, we weren't able to do that. It's not one thing that's wrong. I think there's a lot of things you evaluate at the end of the season and you're trying to do that during the season and sometimes you can and sometimes you can make changes that affect that and sometimes you can't. We've got to go through the process now, get to work and evaluate everything with our football team, our staff, our organization, our system, our philosophy and try to improve it in every way that we can going into next season."

On his evaluation as a first-year head coach

"There's a lot of things that by next year I'm sure I'll do differently. I think you learn something about this game and your job every week and it's a long season. I think that we started kind of the way that we wanted to start and certainly didn't sustain that. It's about staying the course and doing the right things and being able to play well for months. You can't just do it for six weeks and then kind of rest and relax. I don't know that we did that, but we certainly didn't handle one loss very well because we lost once and then we lost three more and we did it twice. Our ability to respond from those times of adversity during the course of the season is critical. If you go on four-game losing streaks you're never going to have an opportunity to really have a great season and the kind of season that you're looking for. We've got to be able to handle that better going forward."

On what he's learned about himself

"I certainly can do a better job of what I do and I'm not going to go into detail about this, that and the other. If there's anybody in this profession that doesn't think that, I think they're fooling themselves. This is a hard job to do whether it's a player or a coach, somebody in the front office, this is a tough league. It's very competitive. I'm looking forward to getting better in this offseason at what I do and trying to improve our team in every way that I can."

On what happened today

"We had opportunities. Unfortunately it's the name of the game in the past three or four weeks here. We've had opportunities in these games. We were down six points, down three points, second half, fourth quarter. We ultimately didn't play well enough at the end to win the game. We didn't  finish. It's really one of the words that we've tried to use, tried to stress. We didn't finish the game. We certainly didn't play as well as we would have liked the entire game. Like I said, anytime you give up over 300 yards rushing, that's difficult to overcome. You turn the ball over multiple times for touchdowns and it's same thing. Didn't execute as well as we needed to, to win the game."

On if the loss was due to effort

"No. We didn't execute. Like I said, whether it be the call or the actual execution on the field, we didn't execute in those situations that were critical. There certainly wasn't a lack of effort. I think our approach and our attitude today with our team was fine. They were excited and ready to play and we just didn't play as well as we wanted to."

On if the Marshall/Scheffler situation affected the game

"No."

On if QB Kyle Orton is the right guy for the offense

"Orton played a lot of good football this year. We'll re-evaluate everything and we'll re-evaluate that. I think Kyle made a lot of progress this year in terms of running our offense and doing some of the things we needs to do. I know there's plays that he would like to have back today but I think there are plays that everybody would like to have back. I was proud to have the opportunity to coach him this year and look forward to moving forward with him."

On Kansas City RB Jamaal Charles running for 259 yards

"Whenever that happens it's never just one thing. There's no way that it was one reason. We missed some tackles. We certainly let him around the edge a few times, I know that. He cut the ball back and parted our defense a few times. He obviously created some big runs. He's a great player, he really is and he's got a bright future in this league certainly. We're going to have to play him for a long time. "

On WR Jabar Gaffney

"It doesn't surprise me how he played. He stepped up and played very well. We moved him around a lot and did a lot of things with him. He's a pro and I'm glad to have the opportunity to coach him. I loved my time with him in New England and the same is true for here in Denver. I look forward to working with him for a long time."

On how he feels

"Disappointed. I'm not going to be dramatic about it. I wish we were playing next week but we didn't play well enough to deserve that opportunity. There's no question about that. The last four weeks we didn't earn the right to continue to play in this league into the playoffs. We've got a lot of work to do and there's definitely going to have to be some things that change. We can't just go back and do the same thing."

On if execution is the reason they lost to Kansas City and Oakland

"No. There's always things you can do better. I'm not justifying anything but whether it be schematically, we can all coach and play better. If you lose a game like that, whatever it may be, to whomever it is, whether it be Indy, Philly, Oakland, Kansas City it doesn't make any difference. If we coach and play better than we'll have a better opportunity to win and we didn't do that in those games."

On if he needs to change the mind set

"I think that we have to look at what may be the common denominator in terms of why we are not finishing better than we're finishing. I can't speak for years prior but I can speak for this year and we certainly didn't play nearly as well in the second half of the season as we did in the first half and there are other things we didn't do well either. Whether it be play good run defense and then we were inconsistent as we came down the stretch or turned the ball over very little at the beginning of the year and turned it over a little bit more as the year went on. We've got to do a good job of evaluating what has caused these finishes because that certainly is very disappointing to myself, to our team, to our staff, Mr. Bowlen and we've got to work hard and we've got to fix it. We've got to find an answer. This isn't an acceptable ending to the season. We've got to do a lot better than this."

On if the answer is talent

"I've been on lesser talented teams that won games. I don't necessarily point the finger and say this, that and the other. I think that you have to have a team. We're building a team. We want to build a team. We want to win as a team, we lose as a team. Whatever that means. You're always trying to get the most talent on your roster that you can possibly have. You can certainly win in this league without the greatest talent in the league. There's no question about that. The best team usually wins the Super Bowl."

On building the team

"Very disappointed in the last ten weeks there's no question about that. I'm proud of the work that they've put in -  the team in that locker room. They've done everything we've asked them to do and tried to play the way we wanted them to play. We didn't get it done as a group, staff, players, organization, and we've got to do better. Moral victories are very hollow in this league. You finish 8-8 and if you feel good about that you're probably going to have a hard time being better than that next year. No, I don't feel very good about this and I don't feel very good about 8-8 and I wouldn't feel very good about 9-7. You want to win enough to deserve to play in the playoffs and if you do then you can be proud of what you did and how you did it."

QB KYLE ORTON

On the Broncos' mental state entering today's game against Kansas City

"We prepared hard, and we went out and fought hard and played as a team, lost as a team, and got beat by a football team that played better than us today."

On if the Broncos' offensive scheme was different due to missing players

"We threw it a lot. We were in four-wide (receiver sets) and got back into some empty (backfield sets). I thought the guys up front blocked well. I thought the receivers played really hard. I know they're tired at the end of the game. (They) played really hard, and I commend them for that. We had guys step up who haven't really seen a whole lot of time this year and did some decent things."

On Kansas City LB Derrick Johnson's two interceptions

"The first one I wish I had back. (It was) just one of my poor throws of the day. The second one, that's football. Sometimes you don't see guys. I think he was supposed to be blitzing, actually, and kind of just came across the line of scrimmage. I thought I had (TE) Daniel Graham wide open and there he showed up on me. That happens in this league. Obviously, I wouldn't have wanted it to happen tonight but (that's) just kind of how it goes."

On the Broncos' performance during the past two months

"We didn't play as well. We played so well the first six weeks complimentary wise like we've talked about all year (with) the kicking game helping both phases, the offense not turning (the ball) over to help the defense and the defense getting us in field position and us taking advantage of it. I just think that for whatever reason that kind of slipped down the stretch. We kind of seemed like one group would be playing well and then maybe not the other. We just couldn't get it on the same page in the same game. It's tough to win when you do that."

On what the offense needs to do to improve next season

"This will be our second year (running this offense), so we've got to work hard. This is a big offseason coming up. Everybody has had a year to kind of digest the system and get comfortable. I think (Head) Coach (Josh McDaniels) has had a chance to get comfortable with his players, as well. As frustrated as I am, I'm also excited. I'm looking forward to next season. I'm looking forward to playing with these guys. We've got a bunch of good pros in this locker room, and I appreciate every one of them."

On if the Broncos have expressed an interest in re-signing him for next season

"Time will tell. It'll be an interesting offseason for a lot of people. I've been very patient, and I know the organization has been patient as well with me. I think something is going to get worked out. I certainly want to be back with these guys. I want to be back with these coaches. This is the best organization that I've ever played for, so I want to keep on doing it."

On the potential changes to the Broncos' roster

"I've never been on a team that the rosters look the same (the next season). That's really the tough part about the last game of the season. This is the last time you're ever going to play with this group of guys, and it's going to be a different team next year, no question about it."

On missing key players on offense in today's game

"We had the guys that wanted to play in the huddle. I appreciate Coach (McDaniels) for his decision. We're trying to win games and we're trying to build something special, and sometimes you've got to make tough decisions. I stand behind him, and I know the other guys do, as well. I just appreciate him for having the direction for this football team."

On the Broncos' current outlook for next season

"I don't know. The offseason tells a lot. It's going to be (dependent on) how hard we want to work (and) what type of effort do we want to put in in the offseason. It's easy to show up when you're supposed to and work and do all that, but the great teams, they show up and they're ready to roll even when you don't have to. I think that's the group of guys that we have, and we're ready to go."

On not making the playoffs after starting the season 6-0

"It's tough to swallow, no question. It's at tough way to end the season, for sure."

 

WR BRANDON STOKLEY

On the disappointing end to the season

"Yeah, it's disappointing. You never want to finish the season off this way. Hats off to the Chiefs, they came in here, played a good game and played better than us. But it is a little disappointing."

On the Chiefs controlling the game from the third quarter on

"Yeah, they did a good job in the second half of taking it to us. They played well across the board on offense and defense. We were right there, we just couldn't make a play down the stretch."

On finishing 2-8 after starting 6-0

"We just played good football early and we just didn't play good enough late in the season. That's really the bottom line, there's no secret to it. If you don't go out there and play good football, you're just not going to win in this league. And that's what happened in the second half of the season. We just got outplayed."

OLB/DE MARIO HAGGAN

 

On if the Broncos were beaten before they took the field

"No, I don't think we were beaten before we took the field. But once we took the field we were definently beaten in all phases of the game. Although we were in a position to have an opportunity to go to the playoffs, we certainly didn't play like we deserved it based on some of the things we did. Myself included."

On Kansas City's success running the football

"Just not sound defense.  On the whole, we didn't do it and they were coming from everywhere.  We had a lot of good calls and we just had to make plays and we didn't make those plays. [Chiefs RB] Jamaal Charles had a heck of a year and he continued that today.  "

On if the deactivation of WR Brandon Marshall and TE Tony Scheffler affected the team's psyche

"That had nothing to do with the way we played today.  Regardless of who we've got out there, we've got to go to work with what we've got.  Obviously we didn't make enough plays today but that was a decision made by the coaches and the organization,.  So it's out of my reach and I just have to go out there and do my job."

WR JABAR GAFFNEY

On a disappointing end to the season

"Well we started the season 6-0. After that somewhere along the way we lost that winning edge. We couldn't pull games out in the fourth quarter and getting behind too much early on. It was a combination giving us an end result of going home."

On if the Broncos are the same team now as when they started 6-0

"I think we're better than 8-8. This team has so much talent and so much potential. But we just didn't show that consistently enough. In this game you've got to be consistent, or else you'll be at home in the beginning of January."

On pinpointing the team's struggles at the end of the season

"Well, we started good and we finished bad when you look back on the season. Next season we'll have to start fast and end good as well, and then we'll have a chance."

TE DANIEL GRAHAM

On today's loss

"It was very disappointing. It was a disappointing season for us. We didn't want this, no one does. We expected to get to the playoffs. We have a lot of work to do next year."

On why the season ended worse than it started

"[By] Not playing sixty minutes...not executing. The coaches did a good job of putting us in the right game plan. We have to execute better. We have to play better."

On the season overall

"It's a very disappointing season for us. We all play this game with one goal and we didn't reach that this year. It's a disappointing season for us, and we have to play better."

On lessons from today's loss

"We just have to play better. Coach [Josh McDaniels] has done a good job with the game plans for us. We as players have to come out here and play better. We have to want it more and we have to give it our all."

On whether today's active roster affected the team morale

"No, it didn't affect anything. Coach made a decision and we expected everyone else to step up and they did. Guys stepped up and made plays."

DL VONNIE HOLLIDAY

On Josh McDaniels' first season as head coach

"He took a team that no one gave a chance to do anything and we finished up eight-and-eight . [There is a] New scheme, offensive and defensively.  For a lot of people, they probably would feel like they made a good run at it, but when you work as hard as we do, that's not what you play for - to be eight-and-eight and an average team. You play, and you work that hard to go out and compete and get to the playoffs and that's why we play the game. That's what makes it exciting. That's why we go out there every day and put your body on the line, because you want to go out and win games. Unfortunately, we didn't win enough. We showed some sparks this year, some flashes of brilliance and greatness, good things. It was just sparks and flashes, and we never really got the fire burning. It's a lot of little things. We're still an immature team. It's a lot of little things that we're going to have to fix as a team from top to bottom."

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