Josh McDaniels spent 68 minutes with the press this afternoon, breaking down his first season as the Head Coach of the Broncos. Head on over the Denver Broncos.com to see the 4-part video.
"As I said yesterday, (Sunday's loss vs. Kansas City) very disappointing. We certainly didn't play well enough, coach well enough (or) do anything well enough yesterday to get the result we were looking for and hopefully, qualify for the playoffs. I met with our team this morning. I appreciate all the hard work and all the things that they've done all year to try to adopt a new philosophy when I understand that that's not always easy. They did everything that we asked them to do, for the most part, and tried to play the way that we wanted to play. I commend them for all the hard work, all the preparation and all the things they did to try and get us to where we wanted to go. Now, we'll enter into a long period of evaluation. Everything will be evaluated. Our system, roster, the job we did as coaches, the players-everything that we can evaluate-what we did in the offseason, what we did in season, bye weeks, the training room (and more) will be evaluated, and there will be decisions made after a period here of three or four weeks going forward. It's certainly an emotional time right now. I think all of us feel that way-physically, mentally drained-and I don't think it's ever good to make big-picture decisions at a time like this. That's what we're going to enter into here in the next few days, starting in the next few days, and that will continue on in the next three or four weeks in January."
On if he is pleased with his football philosophy in his first season
"Yeah. A year ago, we wanted to try and build a tough, smart football team that could play well under pressure, and we worked long and hard on situations. We tried to work on being the better team in situational football, and we won't stop doing that. We won't try and stop being the toughest, smartest football team on the field, always. We want to be accountable and hold our team to a level of play that will help us achieve the things that we want to achieve. I think the same thing is true for the rest of the organization, coaches, personnel department or whatever it may be. We're all accountable to do our jobs at a high level, and we need to continue to do that and try to improve because certainly 8-8 is not acceptable for us, and we need to improve upon that record."
On if he intends to throw more deep passes next season
"We'll look at everything. If you can make a bunch of big plays, that certainly helps. There are a lot of things that go into that, and if we feel that we have the opportunities to do that, then we would love to take advantage of them. If it is something that we feel isn't the best thing to do, then we won't. You certainly want to make as many big plays as you can every year. It's certainly not a goal of ours to try and limit those. If we can do that better next year, then that's what we'll strive to do."
On WR Brandon Marshall's and TE Tony Scheffler's status
"I think a lot of things are better taken care of after a period of time passing. I did meet with a number of players today. We're going to evaluate the whole situation, and we'll speak and talk about that whole thing going forward. Certainly, this week was not an indication of how the entire season went for either player in terms of their relationship with me or anything else. We've got to let some time pass and really evaluate where we are going, and I know that right now wouldn't be the best time to sit down and try to iron everything out. What happened, happened. We made the decisions and moved forward. Once we evaluate where we want to go, we'll address those issues. We'll address those two players along with a number of other things."
On making difficult personnel decisions
"I think you have to do what is in the best interest of your team. I know that it's your (media) job to report on those things. I know we tried to be as informative as we could, and sometimes you'd like to keep those things private. Any time you are having issues, whether they be internal or if they get out into the external world, it‘s not necessarily an easy thing to deal with, and there are other forces in play. I don't regret the decisions that we made as an organization or anything that we did. Sometimes you'd like to keep those things in house better, and we'll try and do that going forward."
On handling internal issues
"If there is something to be gained by putting things out there publically that may be best suited to be taken care of behind closed doors, than I don't know who gains from that. If we can do things privately and resolve them and go forward for the betterment of the team and the organization, I think that is what you're looking for in every situation. There are a lot of issues that come up in the course of the football season, whether they are with players, coaches, systems or schemes. There are a lot of decisions that are made that don't come out (to the public) or aren't talked about significantly. For the most part, I think that that would be the case if you can handle it (internally) going forward I think it would be better for everybody, but certainly, there are things that make it to the public that we wish were private, but you handle it as best you can when it happens."
On finishing his first season as a head coach in the NFL
"It's a challenging job. It certainly is. I didn't think that anyone would expect it to be any different. It‘s very rewarding at the same time. I enjoy doing what we do here. I enjoy the players that we have here on this team and how they try to help us accomplish what we wanted to do. I think you always want to try and take some time to self reflect on what you did in your job (and) in your performance. Certainly, there are things that you go back on at the end of the season each year that you can change and make corrections to and changes to and correct yourself. Hopefully, we'll all do that now and try to be better in our roles next year. I want to do everything I can to help our team win, and I want to do everything within my power to help that be the case with every player, every coach in this organization. That's the challenge moving forward. Now, we enter into another phase. It will be our first offseason where the system has been implemented, and I'm looking forward to going through making tweaks and corrections and things we need to make with that and identifying the next challenges ahead for our roster and all the decisions we need to make between now and next week."
On if the Broncos need rebuilding
"I don't think that you ever rebuild. I wouldn't use that word at all. This is a team that was close to doing something that we wanted to get done, which is qualifying for the playoffs. We didn't do enough late in the year to get that done. I think that is what this next period is going to be for: to evaluate ourselves, to evaluate what we did down the stretch and to evaluate our team in general and try to figure out what we can do better and improve in any way that may be the case. There are always a lot of things that you can change. It's just a matter of how many of those you want to go ahead and implement. I think that if we can identify the things that we feel that we struggled with the most coming down the stretch here and make the proper changes to it-there were many things that we didn't do very well at the beginning of the season, also. When you are winning, you have to be critical, and when you are losing, you have to do the same. We definitely have to make some adjustments and corrections to some of things we were doing. That is what the offseason will be for."
On his philosophy on sacrificing one season to prepare for the future
"I don't want to-no, I don't want to do that. There are a lot of players on this team that are certainly capable at playing at a very high level. I think that our team played at a high level during the course of different times during the year. I don't think that any player wants to hear that, I don't think our owner wants to hear that and I don't think that I want to do that. I don't think that anybody does. If you make moves and changes to your roster (and) to your system, then sure, things may take time to get to the point where you say, ‘Okay, now we are back to where we were,' but that's what you work hard for the next seven months. Nobody is going to say it's going to be easy. It never is, but if you stand there and do nothing and just hope that it is going to change on its own, it usually doesn't. We'll be as proactive as we can be in trying to make those changes and adjustments. Whether it is a system thing or the way we did something this year-a philosophical thing or maybe a roster move-I don't think anybody wants to rebuild. (S) Brian Dawkins, (CB) Champ Bailey, (TE) Daniel Graham and (ILB) D.J. Williams, they don't want to rebuild. They want to keep playing. I think when you get close and you feel like you have a chance to qualify, you don't ever want to come back the next season and say, ‘OK, our goal is to go 7-9.' That's ridiculous. We want to try and improve on this, not go backward. Sometimes improvement means you've got to change some things and work really hard to get it to where you want to be."
On if he will make changes to his coaching staff
"We will evaluate everything. I don't know what things will transpire here over the next few days, but I know that this is always a very active time for other staffs and people that are trying to assemble staffs. We'll evaluate each one of those things on a case-by-case basis. We'll do what is in the best interest of the Broncos but certainly evaluate each one of those things. I think we all have to evaluate what we did and how we did it with our first year working together. I was pleased with what we were trying to do and accomplish, but I don't think you ever just want to go into the next season and not have taken a look at what you did. That'll be an evaluation that we'll go through here in the next few weeks, too, and make sure that we've got everything in place that we want to go in place going forward."
On if he will grant permission to teams looking to interview members of his staff
"I don't want to say whether I would or wouldn't. We will try to evaluate each one of them on an individual basis and make the right decision for the organization and for the person. I know that's happened before where I've been at. It's not always an easy thing, but you try to do what's in the best interest of your team."
On the 2009 draft class and whether he will evaluate the organization's approach to the 2010 draft
"This year's draft should be totally different for us. We changed our system in the middle of the entire process last year. We didn't get an opportunity to have a full season to use the system and a full offseason to use the full grading scale in the evaluation process. Certainly, we changed some of the things we were looking for in individual players-if it was a bigger player here or a faster player there or whatever it may be. Our criteria is all in place, our scouts now know the whole thing and our personnel department is very well versed on that now and we will have an entire offseason where we are not trying to just fill staff positions and do so many things to the roster that hopefully we did last year. We should have an opportunity to really have a solid four months here to get ready for the draft and narrow it down.
"I believe the draft class that we had this year, certainly I would say each of them contributed in their own way-some more than others. I would say we got a lot of production out of some of our later-round players. (S) David Bruton played in almost every game and (S Darcel) McBath, (drafted) in the second round, did a lot to help us there in terms of his teams (special teams and defense) play. He played some on defense, also. (OLB/DE Robert) Ayers played basically in every game except one. (RB) Knowshon (Moreno) obviously played a big role. There are always things that you are going to be happy with and there are always things with rookies in their first year to their second year you are hoping for a dramatic change in terms of their improvement. They all know what the National Football League is about with a number of them today, individually, and they know they are no longer rookies. We need to expect them to do some things that maybe we didn't expect of them this year and they need to expect that of themselves."
On CB Alphonso Smith saying he was overwhelmed this season due to the difference between college and the NFL
"We feel good about Alphonso and we really like a lot of things that he did. It takes a big person to say what Alphonso said. I met with Alphonso today and he certainly isn't pleased with his overall production this year and he want s to do a better job of making sure that he can contribute in many more ways than he did this year. I like his attitude and his approach, and I think this offseason is going to be critical for him just like it is for most rookies coming into their second year. Now he does understand the National Football League and what it takes to be successful and contribute. Hopefully he can use that information and work hard this offseason on the things that he needs to work on to try to make an improvement in his game so that he can help us significantly next year."
On QB Kyle Orton's future with Denver
"Again, we are going to evaluate the whole thing. I don't want to get ahead of that. Kyle Orton was a guy that, we said we want smart players-that's what he is. (He is) tough, he is a great teammate, the players voted him as a captain. I've got a lot of respect for him-I do and the players do. He did a lot of good things and he improved. It was his first year in this system and the system is dramatically different from the one before (in Chicago), so I would look for him to continue to improve in our system. Again, I'm not going to sit here and make declarations about the future and jump through the roster and contracts and all that, but I'm pleased with a lot of what Kyle did and I saw improvement in what he did. I was happy to have the opportunity to work with him this year and we look forward to the future."
On the complexity of free agency given the uncertain landscape in the labor negotiations
"I don't want to use the word ‘complicated.' We are going to do what we feel like we can do within whatever the rules end up being and whatever agreement we have. We will have to wait and see. It's certainly a thing that we are going to have to be patient with. I think the first thing we are going to do is, like we said, evaluate what we need to do and then go from there. Certainly you can't make any kneejerk reactions to anything right now. We've got a lot of time between now and then, and once we have gone through our process, hopefully we will have a good understanding of the landscape we are going to deal with and then make the decisions that we feel like are in the best interest of the Broncos."
On whether he will take some time off
"The staff will be off here for a period of time-probably 10 days (or) two weeks here. I might not be gone that much, but I would at least like to relax for a minute and reflect on this year. There are a lot of things that have gone on and a lot of things that I haven't really had an opportunity to sit back and look at and evaluate from my perspective. I think that's really something that-after you go through a season you are mentally and physically drained. You spend a lot of time away from your family. It's always good to get an opportunity to reconnect with that part of your life a little bit and then come back refreshed.
On how he would describe the 2009 Denver Broncos
"This is a team that I thoroughly enjoyed coaching and was very competitive in damn near every game we played. I think they are all disappointed in how the season ended and I wouldn't label them one way or the other. Like I said, we had an opportunity to go in a couple different directions and had we won a few of the closer games we wouldn't even be having this press conference today. Since we didn't, we ended up where we were-8-8. I think this league is pretty harsh. If you don't deserve to win and you don't deserve to be in the playoffs then you're not in. (Those are) the facts and that's the truth."
On whether he could "coexist" with WR Brandon Marshall
"Of course. I mean, we did that all year. I don't think that ‘coexisting' is a good word to use. We worked very well together most of the season and he had a very productive year-a Pro Bowl year. To label or stereotype this whole thing based on one decision that was made-I don't think that's really fair. He's a very, very talented player, a young player that has a bright future and we are going to step back and evaluate everything and try to do what's best for everybody involved. There is no question that he could fit."
On whether issues with TE Tony Scheffler and WR Brandon Marshall were recent or whether they accumulated over time
"I think I said the other day that we wanted our team to be accountable for one another and there are just certain things that did happen in the last week or two here that certainly didn't necessarily warrant that feeling about certain things. So I made the decision to do that and we moved forward from it. I don't think it impacted the game yesterday. I think our team played hard and I think our offense was productive in those areas. Accountability isn't just today or tomorrow-it's all the time. You have to hold your team accountable, yourself accountable and you have to be accountable to one another. If you are then you have a chance to do some special things."
On whether there was a divided locker room
On RB Knowshon Moreno
"Knowshon works extremely hard, he's one of the most mature rookies I've ever been around, he loves the game and he works really hard at it. I think he fits in perfectly with what we want to do here. He's tough. I think every player has room to improve in certain aspects of their games. Knowshon is no different and he would be the first one to say that. I think any time you have a rookie playing running back in the National Football League you have-pass protection is definitely a different thing in the National Football League for a running back than it would be in college. Certainly the fronts you see, the blitzes you see, the things you are asked to do within the scheme. We probably run a lot more different styles of runs and we ask him to read different things on those. Sometimes he was very good and sometimes he could do a better job of that. He wants to get better, he wants to make himself as good as he can be and I think that's where it starts. If the player wants to do it then you've got a real good chance. I know he wants to, he has a great attitude and approach and we will look for him to take significant improvement from this year to next year."
On specifically what went wrong this season
"One of the general things that I would say that I didn't really like-I'm being specific here-is that before this year I've never been on a team that lost more than one in a row (very often). It's frustrating that we didn't respond better to adversity when we lost our first game. I don't attribute that to the bye week. I'll never blame that on the bye week-everybody has a bye week, including the Ravens (the week before hosting Denver). We didn't play very well in that game and then we didn't respond very well to the fact that we lost. There are a lot of things that happen after you lose a game in the National Football League. There is a swirl of ‘Oh God, what's wrong? What happened? Why did so much change?' Sometimes it's (because) they played better than we did and they coached better than we did. There are a lot of little things that go into it. We didn't handle that very well and it happened to us twice. We lost four games in a row in the middle of the season, we kind of got out of that on Thanksgiving night (26-6 win vs. N.Y. Giants) and won a couple and then let it happen to us again where we didn't respond and handle the adversity of a loss better than (how) we did. I think there is going to be a lot of effort on my part and our staff to try to evaluate why that happened. You can't go through a season in the National Football League and expect not to lose at some point. I think most people would agree with that and admit that. When you do lose a game you have to be able to handle that as a staff, as a coach, as players, as a locker room and be able to come back and play better and get yourself out of that hole. We didn't do a very good job of that. I'll be the first one to take responsibility for it, and we have to do a better job of that going forward."
On why the Broncos defense struggled late in the season after having such a successful start
"There are a lot of little things. You can't pinpoint one thing or one player. We certainly gave up more big plays as the year went on. There was a point in time-we gave up too many big pass plays against Philadelphia. You can go on and on about different games. It wasn't one thing. I think that defense is definitely something that you need the team to play together. A lot of things affect success on defense. I think (OLB/DE) Elvis (Dumervil) would be the first to say he got 17 sacks, and we covered pretty well on some of those plays and he got to the quarterback. The coverage would thank Elvis for getting to the quarterback because ‘That guy was going to get open on me just a second ago.'
"Defensively, we played very well this year. We played together, we did our job, we kind of fit into what we asked each player to do and we didn't really stray from that. Defense is one of those things where when something goes wrong, everybody can't try to fix the problem on their own. You've got to continue to do what you're supposed to do and then maybe the guy who made a mistake the play before is going to do his job the rest of the night very well. You can't sit there and jump outside your gap or run around some block or try to cover somebody else's man because then it's going to open up another can of worms. In a few of the games this season where we really allowed the most big plays, that's kind of what happened. We strayed from an assignment here or whatever and ended up giving up too many big runs (and) too many big passes and didn't do some of the things that we definitely did early in the season.
"There are a lot of things that go into playing good defense. We weren't playing good defense at the beginning of the season for one reason (alone). There are a lot of reasons. I think that when you talk about a change, that does happen during the course of the year. Most teams don't stay the same. You hope you continue to get better and improve. We gave up way too many big plays as the year went on."
On if the Broncos' secondary was fatigued late in the season
"I don't know if we wore down in the secondary. I think every team wears down. It's a long year. I'm not going to say that we had 30-year-olds in the secondary and that's why, all of the sudden, we gave up a few big pass plays. I still think we gave up very few if you look at it compared to the rest of the league, and that's something that we stressed and wanted to do. We didn't always do it perfectly, but we knew what we were trying to get done, and those guys worked hard to try to do it most of the time."
On the importance of winning the battle at the line of scrimmage
"If you struggle to run the football and stop the run, that's a double whammy. We ran into that on a few occasions here in the last half of the season, there's no question about it. That makes everything harder. If you have to pass the ball 56 times, now your protection is going to be significantly more challenged when the defense knows you have to throw it to gain yards. If (you also struggle to stop the run), you try to start moving people down in the box on defense. Now, all of the sudden, everybody is (in) one-on-one (coverage) in the secondary or you start blitzing to try to stop the run, which is never a good formula because if you do that-certainly, when you blitz and play run defense, it's totally different than when you stand up there and play your assignment and all the rest of it because you've got all hell breaking loose at the line of scrimmage. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's terrible. That's never a good formula.
"That will be a big part of our (personnel) evaluation about this season is how did we start, how did we finish, what changed (and) what things within our scheme weren't as good at the end of the year as they were at the beginning? If it was our packages-our nickel or our dime or whatever it may be-or our players, we'll look at everything, and what we're trying to do with them can certainly affect that. The line of scrimmage is where a lot of games are won or lost, there's no question. When we lost the line of scrimmage this year on both sides, it usually wasn't a good formula for us."
On how adopting a new offensive scheme affected the offensive line's play this season
"There is no question that what I'm used to doing-we didn't necessarily have exactly the same philosophy, there's no doubt about that. We tried not to put a square peg in a round whole, either. We did use plenty of the zone (blocking) schemes that they had used here previously and used it quite successfully on a number of occasions this year. Pass protection is pass protection. I think everybody has about the same protections in this league. You use them and you've got to block people, and it is what it is. There's no question that there's a little bit of a difference in terms of what I was coming from, but again, you've got to have either the ability to be able to change something to fit a scheme or you change what you're doing to fit what you have. That's kind of what we tried to do. We never said it was going to be one way or the other. We tried to marry some things together. Every offense is a hybrid of a lot of things. I don't think that any offense is just one thing or another. That's what we've tried to do here. We had some really good days doing it and some not so good days."
On calling offensive plays
"I was comfortable doing that. I can do better. If I'm sitting here saying I did a great job here and a great job there, I'm lying because I think there's no perfect game. You can always change some things about what you did. That's why I said the first thing you look at is how you tried to implement things, what you tried to do offensively, defensively and in the kicking game and see if you can change something and make it better. There are always situations that come up every game where you've got to make a decision and a call, and you make it and you go with what you feel is the best thing to do at that point in time. That's what every play caller does. Certainly, nobody is perfect, and I'm not out of that equation, either."
On why many Broncos who were with the team last season were not as productive as they were in 2008
"It certainly wasn't by design. I think Brandon (Marshall) was the perfect example of that. Any time you change systems-in particular, most of the production, I think, we're referring to is in the passing game. I understand that there are some other things, too. When you change systems-and I think every player would admit this-it's different. It really is. We asked some of our players to do different things than they did before. Maybe it's harder (or) maybe it's easier. Some may embrace it and some may not. Each system brings with it different challenges for players.
"The first year of a new system is not totally different than a rookie having to learn a new offense himself because that's what a lot of these guys had to do. (It's the) same thing on defense. Some guys may end up having more production because of it. Elvis (Dumervil) is a good example of a guy who flourished defensively, and Brandon (Marshall) had a very similar year to what he had before. I think it's a case-by-case basis. If you try to say that everybody who was here didn't have the same role, I think that's very broad. I think that there are some guys who we asked to do some different things.
"It's a matter of everything working together. Again, we weren't working with the same philosophy as I know that they had worked with previously. That's just all part of it."
On if he expects certain Broncos to be more productive next year after playing a season in this offense
"Absolutely, I know that I'm frustrated and disappointed that we couldn't do more in terms of using (WR) Eddie Royal. I've been asked that question a bunch. I know Eddie is frustrated with it, too. I'm not happy with that, and I don't want that to be the case. That's not stereotypical of Eddie this year. We're going to work hard to try to fix that and get that to change dramatically going into next season."
On the Broncos' 4-4 record at INVESCO Field at Mile High this season
"The first thing we need to do is really identify and evaluate the division opponents that we play because you know those three home games every year. We beat all three on the road and we lost all three (division games) at home. In general, whether you play them on the road first or at home first, it doesn't make any difference. You know you're going to have six games against those three teams. If we can do a better job of being able to handle those games twice-we handled them all the first time, and then (there was) a total dramatic change in fortune each one of the second games that we played against those teams. If you change the outcome of those two or three games at home, then you dramatically change our season. I think that's where every offseason starts is with the division because you know you're going to have six games. They're usually going to be six tough games, and if you can do a great job of identifying why you didn't have success (in the first game) the second time around-the second game in a division rivalry is always different every year. We have to do a good job of being able to make the changes we need to make or not make. Sometimes you change too much from one game to the next if you won. It depends on the outcome of the first game. I think the division opponents are huge. This home stadium is certainly an advantage for us. We didn't necessarily protect it very well late in the year, and we've got to do a better job of that, there's no question."
On what the fans can expect from the Broncos next season
"We don't like the finish of this season here in this organization, in this building or in the locker room. We're going to do everything we can between now and the beginning of next year to change what we think we need to change to improve the team in every area. We made a lot of different changes this year, and we'll evaluate those. The result of this season is not acceptable to us. I know that (the fans) don't want it to be the way we ended our season. (Denver is) a great place to play (with) great fans. We've got to do a better job of being able to finish the season. That's something that we're going to spend a lot of time on and a lot of thought on and try to figure out what we need to do to change the outcome because I wasn't here in previous years, but we were 8-4 (this season). When you're 8-4 or 6-0, you should be able to finish and have an opportunity to play longer. We didn't do that. We've got to do some things differently. We can't stand here and stay the same and just expect the result to change on its own because there's a pattern developed here, and we've got to change it."
On RB Peyton Hillis' role in the offense this season
"When you assemble a team, I think you put together the roster and you assume that there's going to be some things that are going to take place during the course of the season where you're going to need to use a lot of people at a lot of spots. I don't think anybody here last year would have said, ‘Would it be okay to have a couple of running backs?' Not after what happened here last year. I went through six in New England. They went through seven here in Denver. You sit there and you say, ‘My God. If we had nine backs on the roster, that probably would be enough.' You don't know. We kept the players we felt best about. He certainly was one of them.
"Again, it's hard to give everybody a bunch of carries in a game. As a running back, you feel like you try to get somebody going into a little bit of a rhythm, and we did quite a few times this year. There were other times we didn't, but the answer isn't necessarily always to just yank the back out of the game and throw the next back in because that would be shallow on our part in terms of identifying what the problem is. Certainly, the backs can do better. Everybody can, but I don't think that the answer is just to jerk them out of the game and say ‘Well, you know, it's all his fault.' It would be really shallow for me to do that and our team knows better. Our team knows that our success is as a group and our failures are usually as a group, also.
"(Hillis) is the same guy I described earlier. He's got a lot of different talents and abilities, and we're glad he's on our team. We'll look forward to moving forward and seeing how his role can maybe be different and more productive next year."
On T Ryan Harris' status
"This will be an extensive rehab. I don't have a date (for his return). I wouldn't predict that either. I wouldn't put that on him. Hopefully, I know Ryan will do everything that he can do to get out there as soon as possible, but there is certainly no date where we can say, ‘He'll be ready to go by April' or anything like that. I'm not going to put that on him."
On OL Russ Hochstein's status
"(It's the) same thing (as Harris). Russ is going to have his procedure here soon, and that's a normal rehab. It'll take a couple of months. Ryan's is the same thing. I wouldn't put a date on them. I don't think that's a fair thing to do."
On if he will plan personnel moves with the expectation of an uncapped year or a labor agreement
"We'll do both. I mean we've got to. You don't know, so you've got to do that."
On if the Broncos will make as many personnel moves early in the offseason similar to last year
"It'll all depend. It'll depend on what's there. I don't know exactly where we're going with this (collective bargaining agreement). We're like everybody else. We're going to try to do what we feel is best at that time. I can't make an assumption on that right now."
On when he will meet with Marshall
"We're going to go through our evaluation. I don't think it's necessarily something that needs to take place in the next day, so I don't have a date for that."
On his approach to re-signing current Broncos considering the uncertainty of the collective bargaining agreement
"Look, we like all the guys we have here. There's no question about it, but we can't necessarily do everything right now. Uncertainty is a good word. It's a good word."
On not finishing the season with a winning record for the first time in his football career
"It doesn't feel very good. I want to do better, I can do better and I think we all can do better. That will be what drives us this whole year. We've got an opportunity. Every time you don't make the playoffs, I think it's very disappointing, but it's also an opportunity to look at how far you have to go to be able to be one of those teams that's still playing in January. Like I said, until we're there, until we're competing at that level and until we're playing in January and competing for championships and Super Bowls, I won't be happy with what we're doing and what we've done. I think that, hopefully, our team and our staff and our organization have exactly that same philosophy and feeling right now as I do."
On if Broncos players were sensitive to criticism from coaches this season
"I don't know that. I think they would be better judges of what the reaction was. I do think that the second year there'll be a different response because I think it's expected. Every week certainly wasn't the same this year. I don't think you can make every week the same as a head coach because then it gets monotonous and boring, and that's not what you need when you're together as much as we're together. I think each player will have an opportunity to handle whatever that may be-coaching, criticism, critique and adversity-better in their own way. I don't think they're going to be wondering what to expect from myself or anybody else on our staff. Also, we're going to have a better feeling for each player. I don't think you handle each player exactly the same. Different players respond to different things, and you try to push the right buttons, hopefully. I think the whole thing that they're referring to-I think what we're talking about is the accountability of our team. I'm not perfect. Nobody else is, and we just try to coach and critique ourselves and try to improve every week so that we do give our team the best chance to win. If there's some sentiment in there that some guys maybe didn't handle it the same way, I'm not necessarily totally aware of every player's response to that. I do know that some guys appreciate it and some guys ask for more. Some guys want less. I think that's probably what's going on in every locker room in the National Football League."
On if he regrets his public comments regarding Marshall's status last week
"No. No, I don't."
On if his comments about Marshall's status contradict his philosophy on keeping team issues internal
"No, it doesn't. Like I said, there are some things that you can't control. Then, there are some other things that-like I said, that was an accountability thing. It was something that happened. I don't regret how it happened or why it happened. I don't regret playing the game the way we did yesterday, either."
On walking a delicate line by questioning a player's injury
"I think there are a lot of things that went into that. It wasn't just one thing. It wasn't just the injury. There were a lot of things that went into it."
On San Diego's strong performance late in the season
"They obviously do (understand the importance of playing well late in the year), I can say that for sure. They certainly understand how to play their best football late. There's no question about it. They've done it for years now and that's our challenge. I don't know how close we are. I just know that we're not close enough, and we need to do whatever it is we need to do to get to that point next year where we can do that. I think we started fast. That's one of the things we wanted to do this year, but starting fast and finishing well are two totally different things. I think you need to be playing your best football late. We certainly kind of had it backwards this year."
On playing seven teams that qualified for the playoffs this season
"Yeah, every year you play a competitive schedule. This year certainly was no different. We played a lot of really good football teams that were well coached. We held our own with a couple of those teams. We beat a lot of them. I think that's good in terms of building on that, but I also think playing those teams or playing teams late in the season is different than playing them at the beginning. When you play them at the beginning of the season, they haven't had their entire year to mold their group into what they want it to be and to be playing their best football when it matters the most at the end. We didn't do enough of that, beating good teams late. I think that's what it really requires you to do. You have to play your best football late so that you can beat the other teams that are really on top of their game. That's really what our failure was this year certainly. We've played a lot of them. We know what it's like to play them, to stand there and go toe-to-toe with them, but there's a difference between being competitive and being better. We weren't better enough times late in the year against some of those teams."
On CB Champ Bailey's future with the Broncos
"I love Champ. He's a captain. He's been a Bronco for awhile, and I'd love to have him be a Bronco as long as I'm here. He's a key component to our defense. I think he will be going forward. We look forward to that."
On why the team responded poorly to the first loss of the season at Baltimore
"I don't say it's the team. I think it's everybody. It's me included. We didn't handle it. There are a lot of things that go into responding to a loss: handling the reasons why, understanding that the criticism tastes different after a loss than it does after a victory and the next week of practice might not feel the same. I think that all of those things combined, obviously, are the results of what I'm talking about. Whether or not the week felt better before we played Pittsburgh or Washington or something else doesn't really make any difference. The result never changed, so we have to identify what we can do better in terms of handling a loss, whether it be from the coaching end of it, the playing end of it, practice that next week, meetings or just our overall mindset and mental toughness as a group. I think a lot of times, that's what you're talking about. If you're mentally tough enough to respond to it the right way, then you win. If you're not, then you might struggle for a period of time. I don't think there's a magic formula. We're not going to change our practice schedule and do all of these crazy things because we lose a game. We've got to do things better. We've got to handle a loss much better than we did this year."
On if the Broncos were less physical as the season progressed after stressing physicality in training camp
"There were definitely some times where we needed to take the pads off. I think that happens with most teams. We were in pads twice this last week, though. I think it's a situation where you try to feel the health of your football team and whether or not going out there and hitting each other two days a week, Wednesday and Thursday, is really the smartest thing to do going forward to give your team the best chance to win. We were in pads, I think, 27 times in training camp. That'll probably be exactly the same way that we do it next year. We believe in doing that because I think if you're going to practice in the running game and you're going to practice physicality, then you need to do it. You can't just talk about it and then hope it happens on Sunday. I think our guys really responded to that well, and there were times during the course of the season where you've got a list of things, bumps and bruises, where it's 20-22 (players) deep. You're sitting there and saying, ‘I don't know if it's smart for us to go out there and bang around these guys because we need them to be able to go on Sunday.' There's a little bit of an ebb and flow into it. I'd love to be able to do it all the time because I do think it helps you be a physical football team. I think our mindset is going to be the same going into next season. We'll be in pads as much as we can. As much as we feel like it's going to be productive for us, then we'll do it. I think that's where, again, we go back to the line of scrimmage. A lot of things go in to how physical you are, and we need to definitely be that kind of team. We need to be that kind of team late in the year. If we struggled, it was in the second half of the season in that area. I think that we'll evaluate that, too. Should we stay in pads (or) should we not more or less based on what happened this year?"
On taking input from Broncos players during the season
"We communicate every week. We have a captains meeting every Friday. They bring to me anything that they may have, and we communicate on a regular basis about those kinds of things. I have great respect for anything that a veteran player or, any of those guys who come and say something to me. If it's important to them, then there's obviously some credence to it. You need to make sure you give it some thought. Champ (Bailey) has definitely done that, (S Brian) ‘Dawk'(ins) does it and (QB) Kyle (Orton), (TE) Daniel Graham, (OLB/DE) Mario Haggan, (ILB) Wesley) Woodyard (C) Casey Wiegmann and all the captains. I sat down with 12 or 14 of them today about different things. I think that's a part of coaching, just being able to communicate with those guys and hear their communication and do the things that they want to do too. A lot of times, when we talk about pads, it's their input, too, that matters to me. Daniel Graham's as tough as they come. Sometimes, Daniel Graham says, ‘I think our team is really beaten up.' I'm going to listen to him. I'm not going to sit there and ignore that and just go on."
On the Broncos struggling late in the season the past few years
"I think for me to speak about what's happened before is probably-I'm not educated necessarily. I know what happened, but I wasn't here and I don't want to pass judgment on that. I think I definitely will have an opinion about that and a much more well-thought out opinion on all the things that go into it, but I don't think it's a one-thing answer. I think there are a lot of things that probably need to be different and a lot of things that we can do differently to affect the outcome. I know this: you can't stay the same. If the outcome that you're getting is not the one that you want, you better change something. If you don't change it, you're going to be sorely disappointed the next season. We've got to do some things differently and we've got to change some things because if you stand there and just hope, hope is not usually a really good game plan in the National Football League."
On if he will enjoy watching the NFL playoffs this year
"No, not when you're not in them, it's not very fun. All those teams deserve to be playing. It's one of those things where you can sit there and watch it and not have any feelings on it or you can wish you were there. That's what you want to do and that's what you're working for. I'd rather do something else and get ready for next year."
On if he will speak to New England WR Wes Welker after his season-ending injury last week against Houston
"That's an unfortunate, a really unfortunate situation for a great player who's as tough as they come, to have that happen to him because I know there's nobody who wants to play in the playoffs more than he does. I probably will reach out to him. I have a lot of respect for him, what he's done and what he can do. It's just a freak incident and something that I wish for him that it didn't happen. I wish for them that it didn't happen."
On the Broncos' special-teams play this season
"We got faster (and) we got more physical. (K Matt) Prater kicked the ball, for the most part, exceptionally well during the course of the season. (LS) Lonie (Paxton) did a good job snapping. Our gunners, which is something we really wanted to focus on-I thought David Bruton, (S) Josh Barrett and (WR) Kenny McKinley really did a nice job of covering a lot in terms of the punting game. We tried to establish that fast, physical, disciplined mentality in the kicking game in terms of our coverage units. I think we did that. I think that our return game had its moments. Certainly, consistency is something that we'll be looking for in terms of going forward in our return game. We converted most scoring opportunities. Obviously, that comes back to our protection, Prater, the holder, snapper and the whole operation. I'm pleased with that area and we can certainly do better with our return game. That will certainly create more field position opportunities for ourselves, and the kickoff return area in particular is something that we'll want to address."
On whether he would consider drafting a quarterback in the first round 2010 NFL Draft
"I don't know that. I don't want to say... Would I be opposed to drafting any position inside the top 10? If that's the question, the answer is no. Whoever the best player is for our team at that position, if we feel like that's what we need, then we would do it. Certainly, quarterback is an area where we had a guy who played pretty decently most of the year this year and is a good player. We'll evaluate our team. Once we're done evaluating our team and our roster and we have a feeling for what's going to happen with free agency, then I think you take a look at where your roster is at by the time you roll around to April. I feel very good with where our scouting staff is this year as opposed to last year. They were under a totally different philosophy and system in terms of the grading and what they were looking for and all of that. Now, we've already set up a (draft) board (for) the first time in December. That's something that we didn't get to last year until late February or early March. We're months in advance of that. We've got a really good idea of what we want to look for and the kind of players we're looking for. Again, whatever the position is, wherever we draft-I think it will be 10(th) or 11(th) as it stands right now based on a coin flip. Then, whatever that position may be, if that player is available, then we would look at taking him."
On playoff teams having elite quarterbacks
"I think that the guys you just mentioned are really elite players. They are- (New Orlenas QB) Drew Brees, (Indianapolis QB Peyton) Manning, (New England QB Tom) Brady, (Pittsburgh QB Ben) Roethlisberger. I know (Pittsburgh) didn't get in, but there are a lot of that. I think there's also a level below that where you say, ‘OK, these guys all have really good quarterbacks that can win games and are very functional and do the things that their teams need them to do to win games and win championships.' If you look at a lot of the Super Bowl winners in this last decade, I wouldn't say that you'd say every one of them was elite when they won the Super Bowl. I think our quarterback has done a nice job of doing a lot of things for us that we ask him to do. He can get better and improve. I'm sure that in his second year in the system that he'll be a better player. I think that goes for a lot of our skill players, a lot of our offensive players. The same thing would be true for defense. Kyle Orton knows where he stands. Like I said, I feel good about what he's done. He's helped us win a lot of games, and hopefully, we can move forward, get better and win more."
On why contracts haven't been negotiated with young players who are eligible to become free agents
"There are some things that are uncertain right now, and I think that's part of the process. They know that, and I think everybody does. We're all kind of going through this at the same time."
On his stance on free agent negotiations
"I think we're kind of trying to make sure we do what we can do. First of all, we're not really sure of the landscape here, with the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) and everything else. I think most organizations, I would assume, are going to wait and see how this exactly goes and what happens and then make their decisions based on the information they have at that point. We're not opposed to doing either."
On his strategy in free agency
"I think we're trying to do what we can do first of all. We are not really sure of the landscape here with the CBA and everything else. I think most organizations are going to wait and see how this goes and what happens and then make their decisions based on the information they have at that point."
On whether the Broncos need to infuse youth into the defense
"I think you always want to have a youthful blend. Veterans who are very good players know what it takes to win in the league and do their jobs very well. Younger players-I think we might have more back that people think. I know we had some veteran safeties that started for us this year, but we also drafted two young ones, and we have (S) Josh Barrett who is another young one behind them. We have two young corners behind (CB) Champ (Bailey) and ‘Goodie' (CB André Goodman). Most of our front seven are all in their 20s. (OLB/DE Robert) Ayers and (OLB/DE Elvis) Dumervil and (OLB/DE) Mario Haggan-those guys are all fairly young players-(DL Ronald) Fields, (DL Ryan) McBean-so I think you're talking about something that you continually want to do. I think that's a good answer in that you don't want to sit there and just stay put and continue to get older and not put in some other players to compete. I think that's one thing we really tried to do this season was take some players we felt fit a role, put them in there behind those players that are really hard, veteran players and go ahead and let them learn from the player themselves. Hopefully, those guys have done a good job of taking advantage of the opportunity they have."
On OLB/DE Robert Ayers
"I talked to Robert today, too, and he wants to have, obviously, more impact and do more (next season). I think anytime you bring in a rookie and you put him in there and let him compete-there are other players in there competing with him. That's a good thing. It's not a bad thing that we have Mario Haggan and Dumervil competing at the same spot that he's competing at, and the same with (OLB/DE) Darrell Reid and (OLB/DE) Jarvis Moss. It was a heck of a competition in training camp all the way throughout the spring, and I don't think anyone would regret how the season went with those players. Robert played basically every snap in our nickel packages and played a lot of football for us. He did a lot of things that we asked him to do. He certainly wants to be more productive and we want him to be as productive as he can possibly be, but he has to take the competition to them. You can't just hand a guy the job because he walks in the door. He's got to earn it and he's got to do the most with his opportunities and take advantage of those. He knows that he's no longer a rookie, so we will look for bigger things from him next year.
"Physically, he is capable of doing the things that we want him to do. (He is) as physical (of) a player as we thought we were getting. He knows how to use that and he will learn how to use that even better going forward. He knows that this year didn't necessarily go how he wanted it to from a production standpoint, but he did do some things for us that were very productive that maybe don't get heralded as much as some other things."