Denver Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels spoke earlier today from the AFC Coach's Breakfast, as part of the NFL's meetings going on in Orlando, FL -
On players not participating in voluntary offseason conditioning
"You'd love to have every one of your players there, but it's not a mandatory thing. There's nothing we can do about that. We hope our players want to be there. We hope we make it an environment in which they can improve and get better and grow with their teammates. But certainly that's a decision that they make. There's a lot that goes into those decisions -- the agent, the player, the people that advise him. We understand that. There are certainly players that have nothing to do with this process that are not at the facility on our team and other teams. We're certainly not unique. We're just one of 32. We know that it's a process that the entire league is going through and we're just going to try to do what we can with the players that are there. We know that ultimately, hopefully, they'll all be there."
On if he has spoken to ILB D.J. Williams
"He's in Miami right now, and we understand that. Our hope would be that all of our players would want to be there. That's the case with most of them, but sometimes there's a lot that goes into that and players decide to stay away."
On if the team started offseason conditioning earlier this year
"I don't believe we did. We started on the date that we could start the offseason program. There's a lot of ways to go about that, but we built in an off-week in May. Last year, I think we did the same thing around the same time. It's really we go seven straight weeks to try to build it up, then we took an off week, then we'll continue to finish the program with OTAs and then the last couple weeks. We're going to end the same time, too, which is at the end of June, and try to give the players a chance to rest and get away a little bit, clear their minds and then come back ready to go."
On if he changed any part of the offseason program
"Yes. We certainly have changed some of the things we're doing in the offseason program. That's not a negative to what we were doing. I think a lot of times there are cycles on things. Some of the things we're doing in the lifting program, the way we're going to train, we're going to train specifically to each group, which is not unusual. Our linemen are going to do some things that maybe they didn't do last year. Our skill players are going to do some things maybe they didn't do last year. We've definitely taken a look at changing up some of the things we're going to do with our OTAs in terms of foundation and scheme and those kind of things. Last year, it was a lot of throw it at them all, because nobody had really heard it our seen it or done it. This year, we think we're a lot more comfortable in terms of the knowledge that they have of the system, so we can focus on less and do it better. That's what we're going to try to do in OTAs and carry that over into training camp. Hopefully we have a strong foundation by the time we start the preseason."
On if he has any thoughts on the Broncos' struggles to close out the season in recent years
"I only know about the one (season), which is last year. I know that there are others that exist, but I can't really go back and figure out all the things that you'd need to figure out to use that. But we've definitely looked at some things, whether it be our training during the course of the season, our practices, the length of practice."
On holding longer practices
"There's a two-way street with that. Fridays we kind of backed off of our team as the season went on. I think there's an ebb and flow on that - there's a balance that you've got to try to reach. We're certainly going to look to try to do that so that we can play our best football as the season wears on. The bye week - which is going to be affected again this year by a trip to London - we've always started in terms of talking about how we're going to handle that, what we can try to do to help make it more efficient, more effective for us to go ahead and transfer into that last part of the season. There's a lot of things. I don't think it's one thing. If there was one thing, that would be too simple. We've got to play and coach better down the stretch, and we've got to finish the season better. We didn't really do that last year, and obviously that was a big part of our failure."
On if he has talked to other teams about traveling to London
"We've talked to a lot of people, actually. There's a lot of ways to do different things. I think there's no perfect way to do it. There's no easy way to do it. We're going to make our decisions about when we're going over pretty soon. (Assistant to Head Coach) Mark (Thewes) has been over there, (Vice President of Operations) Chip (Conway) has been over there, so we've had a lot of people already involved in this process. We tried to gather as much information from other clubs as we could from the league. We know the set-up over there, we feel comfortable with that. So the decision of when we're going to go over and all that, that's kind of last. Then just the whole trip details and everything like that. We feel like we're getting close on making those final arrangements, and hopefully once we do we can just put it into play."
On if he has spoken with Tampa Bay Head Coach Raheem Morris about their first seasons as head coaches in the NFL
"I spoke with Raheem last night, actually. It's the first year. That's what we were both talking about. I think you know a lot more now than you did last year at this time about the team that you have - about your players, about your staff, about the process that you want to go through, about some of the things that you did that you wouldn't do again and some of the things that you did that you definitely want to do again. Raheem, I know he went through some changes with his staff. We've obviously had some changes with our staff as well. I could tell in his voice that he feels more comfortable with what he's doing, with who is there around him, with what he knows about the team and everything else. We were laughing, too, because they were talking about the pension in one of the meetings yesterday, and we were looking at each other. There are some coaches that are closing in on that, and we have about 25 more years to go."
On some of the biggest lessons he will take out of his first season as a head coach
"I think you have to come in with a certain philosophy and a certain belief in what you think can win. That's what we tried to do in that first year. Certainly, everything didn't go perfectly, but I think that to put that out there and then be able to adjust it as you need to adjust it in order to fit your team - I know my team better. I know my players better - I know the way they're going to react. I know our staff better. Those are some things that I think will help us make the adjustments we need to make going forward a lot quicker, a lot easier than last year. I think sometimes you're afraid to be a little flexible in that first year because you're not as sure about who you're dealing with. I feel very comfortable with our staff and our players, and I just think it's going to be something where those adjustments come quicker, and hopefully are more successful."
On his second offseason
"I think it's just a totally different atmosphere. I'm more comfortable with our entire organization. I feel good about our players. I'm excited about the direction that we're going in. I really feel good about the process - (General Manger) Brian Xanders and his staff did a great job this year in the offseason really addressing some things that we could do to help our football team in terms of player additions and team-building. It's a comfortable feeling understanding that the process has already started, our coaches are already there, our weight staff is there working with our players and there's not nearly as much controversy swirling around Denver right now."
On what he felt the defense needed to address in the offseason
"We wanted to try to increase the competition at any spot. Certainly the defensive line that we had last year was very young and hadn't started a lot of games in terms of overall experience. We felt like if we could add some pieces there to give ourselves some experience, some people that had played maybe a little bit more, and then couple that with the group that we did play last year, because right now we feel like we've got great depth at the defensive line spot. We've got Ryan McBean, who started 14 games, he's 26 years old. (Ronald) Fields is 28, he started 16 games. We've got a lot of players - Marcus Thomas, same thing - so we've got a lot of 20-something-year-old players behind some veterans now that have some experience. We felt like we got worn down a little bit as the season wore on. That's not necessarily one player's fault, or another player, but we didn't feel like we had enough depth there. That's something we wanted to do. We want to play with more than three or four players in that defensive line rotation. The altitude certainly plays a factor in that. It's something we've tried to address. We felt like it was a position where we could address it in this year's free agency class, and with the guys we've added, hopefully we're going to be able to play six or seven deep in that defensive line."
On how much bigger the defensive line got
"I would say we added some size. (Justin) Bannan's 310, 315, Jamal Williams is 335. We brought back Le Kevin (Smith), who is 315. Jarvis (Green) isn't as big, but he's going to play on the right side, so we understand that there's going to be a balance there. With (Mario) Haggan, we have the flexibility to move Mario inside at Mike (linebacker), and he's every bit of 265 pounds at Mike linebacker. He played on the edge for us last year. We expect Robert Ayers to improve and play a bigger role in our defense this year. We could be a bigger front, there's no question about it. The only guy that weighs less than 250 is D.J. (Williams), and he's 245. That's something that we felt like we wanted to try to accomplish, something we felt like we could accomplish in free agency, and Brian and his staff did a great job of really pursuing those guys and getting those deals done."
On why he felt free agency was the place to address the D-line as opposed to the NFL Draft
"I don't think it means that we won't do anything in the draft. I think there are some good players in the draft. I think it's similar to last year, in that I know that there were a lot of questions about, ‘What about this spot, what about this spot?' And we seemed to focus more on the secondary. It was just something where we felt like we liked the people and the fit with those players on our team in this year's free agency. We didn't, obviously, go all over the place in terms of positions. We kind of stayed there - the biggest additions that we made were on the defensive line. Certainly no question that we would add a good player on the defensive front in the draft if that's what came up. But we'll do that at any position. I think there are a lot of ways to build your team. There are a lot of things that you can do. There are some players that are on our team that were younger and didn't play big roles last year that we anticipate improving through coaching and through their efforts in the offseason program. The free agency class was something we felt we could improve our team with, and then the draft, obviously, is going to be the last piece of that puzzle. Any way we can improve the competition at any spot, we were looking forward to doing it. It just seemed like that was a good fit for our football team."
On pursuing Jamal Williams in free agency
"There are some things that happen quicker than others. It was something where we got Jamal there, we had obviously watched all of his stuff from 2007, '08, and then the little that you could watch from '09, he certainly was playing at the same level. There weren't 16 games worth of evidence, but there was enough evidence there to say that this player hadn't declined significantly from '08 to '09, and then the injury had totally healed and he's ready to roll. We also felt like a player of his caliber probably benefited some from the rest that the rest of his body took. You didn't get that pounding for 16 games in '09 that most linemen take. We were excited about that. He came in in great shape. He weight 334, I think, on the visit, he looked great and he was in a great frame of mind. He's excited to be in Denver, and he's there right now, which says a lot about what his priorities are. He wants to get familiar with his teammates and coaches."
On if defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely was a selling point to get Williams to Denver
"I think any time you play for a coach that long and you really have a good relationship with him, I think that makes the process easier for the player. He obviously didn't have to come in and figure out in one day, do I like this guy or not? Do I feel good with this person or not? He knew that Wayne would be somebody that he would love to play for. We're excited about that, and hopefully he felt the same way about our entire defensive staff. I know he did."
On 3-4 nose tackles being given the franchise tag on several teams
"I just think that tells you how important that spot is to the 3-4 defense. I also think it talks to the caliber of those players. Those are all very good players - most of them elite in that regard. I just think that when you build and you're strong down the middle in that defense, and then you send everything back in to that player, it makes life difficult sometimes if you do a lot in there."
On the potential for a 2011 lockout being a distraction in the locker room
"I don't think that's something that we address. I think we're all aware of it, but again it's not something that's a Denver thing. Every team in the league is dealing with that, and I think that any time you start to talk about something like that, you can make it a lot bigger of a distraction than it really needs to be. We've got a job to do. We've got a lot of teams to compete with that are all doing an excellent job of trying to improve their football team, and that's what our focus is going to be on."
On how similar the Broncos' offense is to QB Brady Quinn's at Notre Dame
"In talking to him a few times, he certainly knows the base of our offense. The terminology is, I would say, very close. Not exactly the same. Our offense has evolved since (former Notre Dame head coach) Charlie (Weis) left in 2004. Charlie's offense, I'm sure, evolved in a different way. We weren't together. Not that it veered off path significantly, but I think the basis of the terminology, he probably knows 85 percent of the terms and the words we use and the routes and all those different kinds of things. He was coached by the guy that really taught me. I think that's something that's going to be a positive for Brady. I don't think it's going to feel like a fish out of water, certainly, in terms of knowing that system. Again, I think that's why it's a good fit for us, because I think that gives him an opportunity to really go in there and compete and see what he can do. I think that will make our entire quarterback room better."
On dealing with restricted free agents
"We're in the same boat, everybody else is. We certainly went through the process when we placed the tender on them. Some of them I've talked to, some of them I haven't. I think that's a normal process now. They're doing their thing, they're working out on their own or they're rehabbing on their own, they're relaxing and they're getting ready for the next season in their careers. It's not something that I think you have to have a daily conversation with all your players. This is the time of year where they look forward to trying to just go ahead and work on their craft, their techniques, their conditioning and all those kind of things. They have contact with the coaching staff some. Some of them I've touched base with, and some of them I haven't."
On if he has spoken with WR Brandon Marshall
"I reached out to Brandon at the Pro Bowl and exchanged a message with him there. I'm not in a hurry to do that."
On whether players will sign offer sheets
"There's nothing we can do. We did what we did with all of our restricted free agents, we made those decisions, we placed the tenders on them and the process is out of our hands at this point."
On if he is surprised with how restricted free agency has gone so far
"I didn't really listen to all that in terms of expectations. I think our focus in the offseason is on trying to do everything we can to improve our football team. We're going to work hard at trying to improve our system. We're going to try to build our team the best we can in all the different methods that we can use, and then focus on the draft until April. Once May gets here, it will be time to start on our process of what we're going to do with our players, our scheme, how we're going to fit everything together and that process of trying to improve everybody."
On if he has a timeline for when he expects all of the tendered RFAs to participate in offseason workouts
"I have no timeline for them. I understand this process. It's something that we can't mandate and no coach can. Like I said, we are going to try to do the best we can with what we've got."
On WR Brandon Marshall
"I think you take all of your players that you feel like are part of your team-and I do feel like he's a big part of our team-and we're going to plan that way. I think we're not naïve to the fact that something could change and if that happens we have to make decisions and we have plans for those. Some of those things we can't control and if we spend too much time right now focusing on what might happen and what might not happen then I think our focus is kind of distracted from where it needs to be, which is trying to have a great offseason program. That's been our focus now since a week ago, on Monday, and (we) are really trying to improve our team any way we can over in the weight room-with our conditioning program, our lifting program-and let that be the focus right now. Ultimately when football kind of picks up a little bit in May in terms of our players being there and scheme and all that stuff then we have to worry about how we have to adjust. To me it's no different than having a player and then all of a sudden he has an injury. You have to deal with that. There is nothing you can do about that. You can't predict those, you can't control them. All you can do is adapt to what you do have and try to play to the strengths of your players that are there."
On other players on the roster that can play Marshall's outside spot
"We move Brandon (Marshall) around, we move (WR) Eddie (Royal) around (and) we move (WR) Jabar (Gaffney) around. Eddie is certainly going to do more moving this year than he did last year; there is no question about that. We started on that process late last season. We didn't really get to get into it because Eddie had the concussions at the end of the year. It's something (where) we've got a lot of players on the outside that fit in in terms of what we do with them. So if something happened then obviously we have to ask more of somebody else, but I think there are a lot of players that have some experience there doing some of those things. Certainly they would have to pick up their load."
On moving WR Eddie Royal around in different spots
"I think that's' something that we've always done with our outside receivers. Eddie can play in the slot, but Eddie played more ‘X' than anything else last year. We are going to be able to flip him over. He wants to be able to do that, to have that flexibility. We would like to be able to have him do that as well. It's something that Jabar was already able to do because he had been in the system before and we tried to put Eddie more at the ‘X' spot. I think he's a smart player, a versatile player (and) a guy that we need to do better with. We didn't do a good enough job of getting Eddie involved in the offense in certain games and we have to do a better job of that. He is certainly capable. He is (at the facility) already, (he is) ready to go and is having a good offseason so far. We are looking forward to him having a better year than he did last year and we need to do our part."
On not addressing the offensive line early in free agency
"There are a lot of ways to do that and free agency is one of them. You have to go through your process and evaluate what is the best for your football team. (General Manager) Brian (Xanders) and his group have done a great job with that so far. I think that anytime you go through an evaluation you have to also put a price, so to speak, on ‘What is this player to our team? How is he going to fit in? What is the cost of having him on our roster and on our football team and trying to make us better?' If you feel like it fits your team and it fits what you need to do to get him then I think it's definitely an option. If it doesn't then it's something (where) you make a decision to go in another direction. There is still the draft left. There is still a lot of time left for us to improve our team in a lot of areas and certainly we will let that all play out."
On whether he would play a young player at center
"There are a lot of times where you end up playing a younger player on your terms. Sometimes you can get stuck playing a player where maybe you have to hurry along the process and try to get him ready to go, but (OL) Russ (Hochstein) has played center in this league. (C) Dustin Fry is a guy that I liked coming out of college. We added him to the roster late in the year obviously and we will see kind of how that all plays out. We are not concerned right now. (G) Seth Olsen has snapped the ball before. We will see how it goes. We are not panicked about it, certainly, like I said, our focus is on the offseason program and we will worry about that as we go along."
On placing a tender on WR Brandon Marshall
"We are focused on what we can do to try and improve our football team right now and that is not our business. We placed our tender on him and that's our part of the whole thing. If and when he is here that will be great and it's the same thing with all of our RFAs right now. (QB) Kyle Orton is there at the facility working out. We are not unique; there are a lot of teams that are going through the same thing right now."
On OL Russ Hochstein's injury rehabilitation
"He's coming along. There is no timeline or projection on when he will be ready to go. The injury happened late in the year, which is always unfortunate, but he's working hard and I think it's going in the right direction. Hopefully he will be back sometime in training camp, if not at the beginning of training camp."
On if he has expectations of the club's tendered RFAs to attend OTAs
"I have no expectations on that at all really. If they are there, great, and if they are not then we know that we have to focus on the other players. We are going to focus on the guys that are there and that's not a negative towards anyone who is not. We just think it's an opportunity for us to build our team and hopefully they see that the same way. I think that's really the response we got last year, and hopefully we get the same response this year."
On playing San Francisco in London on Halloween
"I think it's exciting. It's certainly exciting for our organization and the Broncos fans. It's an opportunity for a lot of us-I've never been overseas and I think that's the case for a lot of our players and staff. It's exciting for us to have to opportunity to go over there and represent the National Football League in London. We have some people-(Assistant to the Head Coach) Mark (Thewes), my assistant, has been over there. He's seen the stadium, he's seen our facilities. He sent back pictures and talked about how wonderful the experience seems like it's going to be for all of us. We've also talked to some of my friends in New England that were there last year. They enjoyed the experience thoroughly. Again, it's an exciting thing to do. Anytime you get to go and play in a different venue like that-it kind of feels like a playoff-type atmosphere, I've heard. We're excited about going there and joining the 49ers and competing there in London. There is some uncertainty, but I think more than anything else there is a lot of excitement."
On how the players have taken to Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
"I didn't go down and poll the team (laughing), but I certainly think he's a great coach. He's a great teacher, a great communicator and somebody that they trust and some somebody that they respect dearly. I know he had a profound impact on a lot of our players, the linebacking core for sure. Assistant coaches don't just touch their position groups. They have an opportunity to affect a lot of different people and I think that's what Wink did. I think that's what kind of stuck with me-that I noticed that. You can see when they have any effect on a player or players and he did. There is a lot of support for him, certainly. He's already doing a phenomenal job and we're excited about it.
"I've talked to a few of them during the process. (S) Brian (Dawkins), (OLB/DE) Elvis (Dumervil), (ILB) D.J. (Williams), (CB) Champ (Bailey). I've talked to a lot of the veteran players and you certainly respect their opinion. They see things differently than coaches do sometimes and that's a valuable opinion to have when you have a player that understands the league and understands what it takes to be able to give you that input. We got (input) from a lot of players that really understand what we are trying to do here in Denver. He's doing a great job. I think our staff is well on its way to improving. We have a lot of things we can do better and we've started that process already."
On if Martindale will still coach linebackers
"He is going to be involved with the linebackers certainly. But (Assistant Linebackers Coach) Roman Phifer did a great job for us last year. ‘Phiph' is going to take on a little more responsibility. We added (Defensive Assistant) Craig Aukerman to our staff, another young coach that has some familiarity with Wink from in the past. We will split up those duties and responsibilities but he will definitely be involved, kind of like I was involved with the quarterbacks. As we see the need or the reason to change that then we will do it as we see fit."
On if he will be more involved with the defense going forward
"I don't think I'm any more involved than I was last year. I think last year was probably going to be very similar to this year in terms of, we discuss what we think the best thing for this week, how we think we should attack this offense, what we think we need to do or not do and then how we are coaching certain things. We watch all the film together as a staff and discuss the pros and cons of what we did and I think that's not going to change. The difference for us now is, last year we were trying to put in what were going to do. This year we already have it in and now we're tweaking it or trying to make it better or change something here or there. That's really the difference, and it feels different. Last year there was a lot of coaching the coaches and that process is pretty much done. Now we are trying to make the system better. The coaches are more informed, obviously, about what they are doing and there is a lot more input on what we should do because last year there was more learning going on than anything else. That's a good feeling. We've had very productive conversations about our scheme changes. We are going to do some, but the base of our foundation is basically the same. We're not changing that at all. Wink is comfortable with it, so am I, and I think our players and staff will be too."
On defensive changes
"The foundation of our defense and the terminology of those things will be the same. I think in every offseason there are always some changes that you make to things in your system. We've changed things in our offense (where) players will go ‘Why did we change the way we call that again?' Well, we felt like it was the better way to go. There are reasons to do that and we've done that defensively so far this offseason. We will continue to do that, but that nothing that no player has never gone through before. We're looking forward to growing the defense, improving he defense and really kind of mastering our understanding and fit with the defense. It's our second year with the coaching staff and our players. We've certainly added a few things that Wink is fond of that I feel very good about that we will see in September and October. I do know this: he will be an aggressive play caller. It will be an aggressive defense. We may blitz a little bit more, but that's his personality and I want him to be himself."
On if he talked to QB Kyle Orton about acquiring QB Brady Quinn
"I talked to him right then and I told him this is a competitive thing as far as adding competition to any spot on our football team that we could. This had nothing negative to do with Kyle Orton. We are just trying to improve the competition at every spot. To me, our conversation was quick, and to me, he embraced the concept of competing with another player. I don't think any player would shy away from that. Certainly, I think that our quarterback room is young and competitive and I think that is a good thing for our football team."
On what he told QB Brady Quinn about his role
"I told him the same thing we tell every player which is ‘You've got to create your own role. What you do on the field, what you do with your opportunities-that's what's going to tell us what we need to know and then your role will be created from there.' That's the same thing we tell every player. No different."
On QB Kyle Orton
He is our starter. There is no question. Like I said, he started 15-16 games, he did a lot of things to help us win games last year, and again, I'm excited because this is going to be-once April 2 rolls around-this will be his second calendar year in our system. He hasn't even been here a year. We are looking forward to his improvement and his progress. He is going to know the offense so much better this time around than he did last year. That's going to give us more flexibility. It's going to give him more comfort in terms of what he can do at the line of scrimmage, what he can do with his plays, what he can do with his players. I think anytime you have that feeling that you know the offense, you know the players, you know what they are going to do, you know what to expect-I think that's obviously going to help your performance and I would look for that from Kyle. I would look for that in most of the players in the second year of our system."
On QB Brady Quinn's familiarity with the Broncos' offensive system after playing for Charlie Weis at Notre Dame
"I think that's something that will benefit him now that he's here. I haven't had any conversations with (Kansas City Offensive Coordinator) Charlie (Weis) about Brady. I didn't four years ago and I didn't again this year. It's not something that we have kind of been pursuing or anything like that. I think obviously the connection there is that anytime you get a player that knows-I don't know what percentage, but let's just say 80 percent of your terminology-that obviously is going to give him a little bit of an edge in terms of catching up. Last year was a lot of teaching. Hopefully he can have an opportunity to do a little less (learning) because he knows the terms and those kinds of things. I think he can get in there and try to compete and make our whole football team better. That's a good thing for him. We talked to a lot of people at the (Scouting) Combine, obviously, and I saw (Notre Dame QB) Jimmy Clausen and I threw out a term to him and he had a big smile on his face... It's the same language, so it's just something that hopefully he will feel comfortable with. I‘ve already talked to him about a lot of things like that and I think he does. I think he's excited to be able to try to do that without learning a whole new playbook all over again and try to go in there and do the things that he needs to do to compete."
On what he takes from the first year to the second
I think that-this this isn't going to answer your question perfectly-for us, right now what we are looking for is to change the things that we feel like need to change for us to finish better. That is going to be our focus this year. We didn't finish very well last year. Is that one thing? No. How many things go into that? There are probably a lot of things that go into that. We need to be able to improve consistently as the year goes on. I think we had the pedal down on the floor since we go there last year-we really tried to accelerate our player's understanding of what we wanted to try and do. We had a very physical training camp and then started the season the way we wanted to, but didn't finish the way we wanted to. I think that we have to try and figure out that perfect blend of how to get your team ready to go at the beginning of the season, but continue to climb the mountain in a positive direction so that we can play our best football in December. We didn't do that last year, and I think whether that was a lesson learned or you just understand that if you are not getting better as the season progresses and playing your best at the end that something has to change."
On if he will back off in spots
"It might mean that, it might mean less of this or more of something else as well. It might be more of some kind of practice or some type of meetings, but there are certainly things that we have to try and do differently to try and get our football team to improve. It is no one's fault, we don't blame players, we don't blame coaches, this is something as a team as an organization that we need to do better. It starts with me and we are going to try and do all we can starting in the offseason and change the offseason program a little bit. We are going to try and get better in every way that we can and hopefully that will end with us having an ascension at the end of the season instead of a decline."
On if it was easier to evaluate Brady Quinn because of his familiarity with the system
There are also some things that he was doing in Cleveland-since (Cleveland Offensive Coordinator) Brian (Daboll) was there-that we do as well. There are plenty of things that they do in Cleveland that we don't do and vice versa. I don't know if it is easier to evaluate. I think you evaluate the player based on the opportunities he has to succeed and say ‘Alright was this his fault or was it someone else's fault? Was it a scheme thing? What was the difference he could have made on the play?' Anytime you are looking at a player, I think you have to try and isolate him and see what he could have done better and see what he could have done to affect the play in a positive or negative fashion. Like I said, I think it is our job as coaches to take a player and put them into our system and then make them better players. What he has done before statistically and all that stuff, I don't really care about that. I am focused on what he can do and try and make him do those things more consistently and that is our focus and that is our attitude with every one of our players. What did (DL) Jamal Williams do well? Well we are going to try and do that as well as we can and as much as we can and try to get him to improve as well. It is the same thing with all of our players; I think the familiarity with terms is just going to be a comfort thing for a quarterback, so that will help him. But I think that is the focus for the entire team, is to try and improve the competition and hopefully he can do that."
On if he is embracing the opportunity to help Quinn improve
"I am fond of that position, I am not afraid to say that. I am excited to work with (QB Tom) Brandstater coming from last year where he didn't know anything, now he knows our system and let's see how far we can take him. Same thing with Brady Quinn and same thing with Kyle Orton. That is why I said, Kyle's been in our system less than a calendar year, so for us we see great opportunity to build on what we did do already and trying to improve each one of those players at that position. It is a great position to be able to teach and focus on because there are so many things that go into being effective at it. It is not a physical thing solely, it is not a mental thing, there are a lot of little things that you have to do right and I think the more you work with them, the more repetitions they get, the more things that you can say ‘that is not a strength of his' you focus on it for the next three or four weeks and try to eliminate it. We did that some with Kyle last year and we are going to do that with all of our quarterbacks. I think it is a position where you can see some benefits quicker because there are so many little things that go into them being effective players that if you can change one of them you have made them a better player. So, there is a lot to work on with all three of those players and it is going to be an exciting thing for us and we are going to be hard at work.
On if he has affection for QBs who have been doubted
"It is more of what they do have in common than where they came from, when they were drafted. To me, Kyle Orton has always shown the ability to be a smart player, he is an accurate player. He can understand what we ask him to do. Same thing with Tom Brandstater, some people said ‘What about Tom's accuracy?' You can work on those things; there are certain things you can fix on a quarterback."
On being born with accuracy
"I totally disagree with that, I think that is one of the few things that you can certainly coach a player-that is our job. And I'll say this: accuracy is not something that is just the quarterback's responsibility. There are so many things that go into completion percentage and those kinds of things. Scheme, your players have to get open, you have to protect long enough for the quarterback to throw the football effectively. Situational plays and then obviously he has to put the football in a place for the player to catch it. So there are a lot of things that can affect that. I don't look at what they can't do, I try and look at what they can do and then say that we can do it better and we can build off of this and that is our job. If we can't improve the player then we are doing a good job with what we have to do."
On RB Knowshon Moreno
"I think those are things that players have to deal with all the time. Injuries and missing practice and those types of things. I am certainly not going to sit here and say he wouldn't have benefitted from practices, but like I said there are a lot of things that go into those kinds of plays. To have successful plays, you need to have a lot of guys doing the right thing. There were some plays where we had some very solid runs, there were games when we had great production, between he and Buck (RB Correll Buckhalter) and we look forward to having him improve. He hasn't been in our system a calendar year either. He hasn't been in the NFL a calendar year, so it is something that we hope to see a lot of improvement from a lot of our young players. We feel like we have a lot of potential there. We have high expectations for Knowshon in his second year but I don't think that is anything that he feels like himself. We are looking forward to year No. 2."
On CB Alphonso Smith's role with CB Nate Jones on the team
"Doesn't change a thing. We have high expectations for all of our young players. Nathan Jones is a player we felt could come in and improve our competition and depth. He has been a special teams player a defensive player, he has played safety. We love his versatility, we love his attitude. He has worked with (S) Renaldo (Hill) and ‘Goody' (CB André Goodman), so he came highly regarded in terms of his capacity mentally, the way he works. I don't think you can have enough competition at any spot and I think Nathan is going to come in with a great attitude and Alphonso is working hard. It is year two for a lot of our players and we expect definite improvement in a lot of areas."
On having a veteran defense
"We have a lot of young players that are in that mix though. The defensive line, we have a lot of 20-somethings right behind them that have played a lot of football. Alphonso is young, (S) Darcel (McBath) is young, Nathan is young, (S) David Bruton is young. (CB) Tony Carter played last year, he is young. Our linebacking core is fairly young, (OLB/DE) Mario (Haggan) is the only one over 30 in that group, so you can spin it either way. You can say we have a lot of younger players that have great mentors that can help bring them along so that they can play a bigger role on our football team, or you can say we are old. To me, we have a great blend. We have a lot of great veteran leaders and I think that you need a good blend. I think if every player on your offense or defense is real young, you could have real problems. If everyone is real old, you can have real problems. But I don't know what real old is though, I have seen a lot of players play a lot of good football at 34, 36 and 37. We had guys last year who went to the Pro Bowl in their 30s, that didn't surprise me or anyone else. We will look forward to big years from them this year."
On the offensive line depth chart
"It's March; we don't have a depth chart. We just have a bunch of sweaty guys working out."
On veteran players
"I think the mindset of a player as he gets older is he has to understand what he has to continue to do in the offseason to continue to play at a high level. All those players that we have that are 30, 31, 33, 36-they understand that their body is not the same as it was when they were 25-years old. I think that is a big part of it. If they think that they don't have to do a whole lot and I am just going to play at this level, I think they could decline quicker than what they do. To me, that is a tribute to them understanding their bodies, to them understanding that they want to continue to play at a high level and figuring out what they can do to maintain that. I think that is the common denominator that they all have. They have a great attitude, a great approach and they are all dying to continue to play. That is why Champ Bailey is there right now, that is why Dawkins is there right now. Jamal Williams is there and-on-and-on-and-on. They are working hard to prepare their bodies to go through the rigors. I think the other thing as a coach is you need to manage certain people. When we go to training camp or go through the season, there is no way we can just sit there and say ‘Look, we should treat Alphonso Smith the same as we treat Champ Bailey in terms of repetitions or rest.' Same thing with Dawkins, same thing with Jamal. If you just try and treat everybody like they are all 23-years old as a coach, then you can be the problem. We have to do the right thing, what is important is they are ready to go on Sundays in the season and that is going to be the big thing for us and then we are going to get the most out of everybody and that is what our goal is."
On not being afraid of age
"I think you evaluate what you see. What the league saw last year is Brian Dawkins have a Pro Bowl season, Champ Bailey have a Pro Bowl season, André Goodman have one of the best seasons of his career and on-and-on-and-on. There a bunch of players I can sit here and name. I think that is something that you blend with younger players. We have young players basically behind those players that you are talking about. To me, that is a setup that Brian (Xanders) and I have talked about trying to put in place, because who better to learn from as a young safety than Renaldo and Brian. Who better to learn from as a young corner like Nathan and Alphonso and Tony than Champ and Andre Goodman? Who better to learn from for Ronnie Fields and Ryan McBean than two players who have a lot of experience who have done this at a high level in the NFL? To me that is a great setup. I learned from a lot of coaches who were older than I was but I got to soak up as much of that knowledge as I possibly could from Romeo (Crennel), and Bill (Belichick), and Eric (Mangini), and Rob Ryan and Pepper Johnson and Charlie Weis. Those kinds of people had a profound effect on me and I don't know why it can't be the same with players. To build your depth that way, to put a few young players in at different positions to rest certain other players, that is a solid blend and what we aim for."
On the draft
"We haven't finished out preparations yet, it certainly seems there are a lot of tackles this year that are capable and offensive tackles that are good players. The defensive line seems deeper than it has been in some years past, linebacker, there are different types of linebackers certainly."
On the safeties in the draft
"I think there are some good safeties in there as well. This is a deep draft and to each his own I guess. It is all in the eye of the beholder and what you are looking for and what you think of those players. I think there is a lot of talk this time of year that may not be true. They try and smoke screen you. I think there are a lot of good defensive players in this draft. But again there are a lot of tackles that should get drafted high; there are some other positions that are strong in other areas."
On restricted free agents
"There is nothing we can do. We have done our part, we are not unique. Every other team is going through the same process and we are going to work hard to try and improve our football team every day. With the players that are there and we know in time we will have our team there and when we do it will be time to work."