Earlier this morning Denver Broncos Executive VP of Football Operations met with members of the press on topics ranging from Mike Shanahan to Brian Dawkins to, of course, Tim Tebow. As always, if you want to watch the press conference on-line, you may do so on denverbroncos.com or by clicking here.
Here are the highlights of what was said courtesy of the Denver Broncos Media Relations Department.
On his first year with the Broncos as Executive Vice President of Football Operations
"I was happy with it, to be able to finish 9-9 coming off of the last couple of years when we were 6-22 over our last 28 [games]. I think the key thing was getting John Fox hired-that was a tremendous help for us to change the culture in the building. Many times when you go through a streak that we went through, the hardest thing to change is the culture and trying to get the winning mentality back in the players' minds. I think that's what John did a tremendous job with last year. We won a lot of close football games. A lot of times when you go through losing streaks, that's the hardest thing to do. I really give credit to John as well as the whole coaching staff for changing that culture to get that mindset back to when we have close football games that the mindset wasn't, ‘What is going to happen for us to lose this game?' Rather, it turned around to, ‘Let's go out and make a play and figure out a way to win,' and we were able to do that last year."
On S Brian Dawkins
"Brian has been tremendous. He's been a tremendous help for the organization. His ability as a football player, but also as a man, his ability as a leader and the type of person that he is has been very reflective on the Denver Broncos. I think those are the types of guys that we want on our football team. I have not had a chance to talk to Brian to see what his plans are, whether he'd like to come back or not. Not speaking for him, I know that he is probably going through a tough time, having been a football player, how hard it is to make that decision when you're getting close to the end of your career whether you want to play or not. To this point, I haven't had a chance to talk to Brian, but I look forward to talking to him."
On how Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan has affected his philosophy
"I think there's a philosophy that comes back, there's no question that Mike had a lot to do with it. When he came in, he was my coach as a player and he was the offensive coordinator, quarterback coach and then moved up to become the head coach. There's no question a lot of my philosophy comes from Mike. I think when you have a guy like that who I look at-he led us to two World Championships [and] has had a lot of success in the NFL. What I think of him as a football coach, there's no question it parlays into what I think of as an executive and in the position that I'm in-and a lot of it to my decision making."
On QB Tim Tebow
"We're happy with his year last year. To finish 9-9 and get a playoff win, which we hadn't done in several years, and for him to come in [after starting] 1-4, he really added a great spark for us and we really had some good things happen two us. I was really happy with his progress. I know Tim is going to work hard this offseason and we're hoping that he's going to be the guy for a long, long time."
On the evolution of the quarterback position
"I think if you look at the quarterbacks, along with every position, [the players are] getting more athletic. The kids are getting bigger, stronger and faster-with every position. I think the arm strength and especially if you look at what's going on in the NFL and what we're doing in the NFL, the game is getting more complicated because of the amount of things that we can do on the offensive side, as well as the things you're seeing on the defensive side. I think athletically and size-wise, maturity-wise, these kids realize when they step out of college that especially if you're high in the draft there are high expectations and a lot of pressure to perform early."
On what style of quarterback the team is looking to add
"I think we're going through that process now. We have to kind of let it happen. I don't know that we're looking for one like Tim or your ordinary drop-back [passer], or somewhere in between. I think until we find out the interest out there, it's going to be hard to fill those spots. I think when I look at Tim and I look at our offense, we can do it with either one. Whether it be a guy like Tim, or if it's more of a drop-back-type guy, we feel like either one is going to be able to fit."
On what he looks for at the Combine
"I think you look at all that, you want to see the motion, the release, footwork and how the ball comes off. We don't get much time with them-15-minute interviews with them at night, so you don't get a chance to find out a whole lot about them, but you get a feel for them and a chance to be around them before we can dig in even deeper in the process. There is so much to every kid and there is so much to every position in the NFL that every little bit like this Combine helps us all."
On Baylor QB Robert Griffin and Stanford QB Andrew Luck
"I look at both of them as two unbelievable prospects. I think that if you look at what they both did this year with Andrew at Stanford and ‘RG3' down at Baylor, they're two tremendous talents-tremendously mature, intelligent guys that I look at as two [who] are going to have a lot of success in the NFL."
On his situation as a player coming out of college compared to Stanford QB Andrew Luck
"I've always left that up to you guys. When you look at the success that Andrew has had, especially at Stanford where Jim Harbaugh did a tremendous job turning that program around and David Shaw again this year. [Being an] alumni at Stanford, for me, it's a great thing to see for them to be as competitive as they are on the football side as well as the great college that it is and the great education that you get out of it. Anybody that comes out that is a quarterback-whether you're a first or second or third-rounder-there is always high expectations of you because of the importance of the position in the NFL."
On his familiarity with San Francisco Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
"I don't know him very well. I went to the Orange Bowl last year and spent a little bit of time with Jim. I just know him having played against him-his competitive nature, his ability to compete and his intensity. I think we saw that on the field and its transcended right into his coaching career. Obviously they had a great year this year in San Francisco."
On the limitations on working with players during the offseason under the new CBA rules
"Those are the rules. That's part of the CBA and we abide by those rules. I think the way it's set up now, we can officially start working with him May 1. I think [April] 16 is when everyone can come in. There is Phase One, which lasts for two weeks, and then Phase Two is when we are able to start working with him. I don't know if it's a concern. The one thing I don't have a concern with is the fact that Tim Tebow is going to do everything he can this offseason to get better. If that's out working with [UCLA Offensive Coordinator Noel] Mazzone-or whatever he is doing-I know that he is going to do everything he can to get better."
On if he has had input in [UCLA Offensive Coordinator Noel] Mazzone's workouts with Tebow
"It's my understanding that we're not allowed to do that. I'm not exactly sure, but I have not had any contact with Mazzone. I think that obviously there are a lot of guys out there that know a lot about football, but no, I have not had any contact with Mazzone."
On Tebow's progression
"I don't know that you look at it as becoming more conventional. I think there are things that we have to get him to do within our offense to be more successful as an offense. Obviously, we look at what we did last year and Tim's strengths are...there is no question he can run the football; he is a big guy and physical and he likes to run it...I think [Offensive Coordinator] Mike McCoy and the offensive staff did a tremendous job trying to play to Tim's strengths. I think we will continue to do that but we also want to see strides in Tim and his ability to get better at throwing the football downfield from in the pocket. We just feel that's something we have to do to get better as an offense-to be able to add that threat there, it makes everything else he does that much better."
On addressing the defensive front
"We have a lot of high priorities. I think that's an issue that always comes up every year, especially inside. [DT] Brodrick Bunkley was a guy that we picked up last year [from Philadelphia] that really played well. He's a free agent, so like all of our free agents, we would like to get them back in the building and consider [re-signing them]. Defensive tackle is, no question, an area where we want to get better, but we also have some others."
On Denver being considered a hot landing spot for draft prospects and free agents
"Having played there I know how special Denver is. That's exciting for me to hear because I know one of the main reasons I'm back is because of our owner, Pat Bowlen. He's the guy that creates that culture for us to be able to go out there and win. When you have a guy at the top like Pat Bowlen that wants to win Super Bowls and Lombardi Trophies-as an employee or as a player, that's the only thing that you can ask for is to have an owner that is as competitive as he is. He's going to give us every opportunity to do that and all the resourced he can possibly give us to be given that chance. I just know that the fan base we have in Denver is tremendous. Having played there as long as I did, it's a great place to bring up children. So, I'm excited about the fact that guys want to come back to Denver and play for a guy like John Fox, who has done a tremendous job also."