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Broncos 34 - Saints 32 - The Monday, Mike Shanahan Extravaganza!

I am taking a "glass half-full" approach to the defense, but what about the coach?  Let's find out in his transcript from his weekly Monday meeting with the press -- 

On the defense

“We have talked about it from day one. You have to be able to stop the run to have a chance to have a good defense, and we did that holding them to 3.5 yards per rushing attempt. That is where you start. We will get better with our pass defense as time goes on. We are doing a number of things that are new in comparison to a year ago. It just takes some time. If we have the effort that we had overall, offense, defense and special teams, good things will happen for our football team.”


On if he is alarmed at the defense giving up so many points

“I am not alarmed at all because if you get that kind of effort overall, good things are going to happen. You have to be alarmed because you gave up so many passing yards but that is something you can work on and get better at. You have drops and different zones. You get different things that different offenses do that you have to adjust to. You get different scheming and different quarterbacks that can sometimes give you different opportunities to come up with big plays. We have to get better on third downs. They were 8-14 on third downs, and they had a third down and 12 and a third down and 7 when it was 21-3 and that game was almost over. You just have to be on with your zone drops and you have to make a tackle here and there. It is something we can work on, especially with that type of effort. That was as hard as we have played in a long time.”

On a Jay Cutler throw that split four defenders during the Saints game

“That kind of surprised me to be honest with you. That was a great catch and great concentration. (Saints DB Mike) McKenzie had him covered. His hand was right in there, but somehow he got it in there. He was looking to the left because that is where his primary receiver was, but he was covered so he came back to the other side. It was on a third down and he fortunately made a play for us.”


On the offense slowing down after a quick start against the Saints

“We sputtered a couple times. It doesn’t take much. You are either here or there. We had some big possessions. We got three touchdowns and a couple field goals. We were not perfect by any means. We left some points on the field. That is why you work, and that is why you practice—to try and eliminate those mistakes. We will go back to the drawing board and try to get better this week.”


On the defensive scheme using four linebackers on the field against the Saints

“Just a little different look and a little different scheme. It was a change-up for us, and we have different game plans each week and we will throw in a little wrinkle here and there. We are not necessarily a straight 3-4 defense even though it appears to be. Everybody does things differently in passing situations and it was something that worked on this week that I thought looked pretty good.”


On other teams facing his defense

“This is the National Football League and there are a lot of good teams. I think we do know that Philip Rivers and Drew Brees are exceptional and if you give them a certain look then they are going to take advantage of it. Like I said, we could have put them away early in a couple situations but we didn’t. They got a little confidence going and they made some big plays when they had to. You have to start somewhere and to average 3.5 yards per rushing attempt, you have a chance to improve in the passing game or in that area because we are getting some great effort out of our players.”


On having a balanced offense

“Each game is a little different. One game they might be trying to take away the run so you throw the football and when they take away the pass you run the football. To me you have to have the ability to do both. It could be bad weather conditions where you have to run the football, it could be that teams don’t respect your run and you have to throw. You have to have both otherwise when you get to the playoffs, you might not go very far.”


On the running backs getting fewer carries this season

“I am not sure that they are used to getting a lot of carries to start with. We have Selvin (Young), Andre (Hall) and Michael Pittman and they all have a role. We are trying to keep these guys fresh. I believe in all of the running backs that we have. We are going with a five-play rotation with Selvin and Andre and they are doing a good job with yards per carry. Michael is kind of our workhorse, helping us in short yardage goal line and helping us in certain packages. He is doing an excellent job. I like the rotation that we have.”


On how much he talks to Jay Cutler

“We talk about football with our coaching staff all through the offseason including what we are going to do, our installation. You work for three or four months straight trying to decide which direction you are going to go philosophically on offense, defense and special teams. Once you get to the season, every coach has their position and they are going over their game plan. The very few times we meet as a group we are probably going over our running game and then you separate. Any time you are an assistant coach you are spending a lot of hours with that quarterback. I spent probably 12-14 hours a day with the quarterback. You go through things during the day, in the afternoon and through the evening getting ready. There is not enough hours in the day to get ready. As a head coach I get a chance to watch all the meetings and see what is going on. Obviously on the field, I will make comments when I see something but you have to have good coaching and I have some great coaches.”


On LB D.J. Williams’ tackle for a loss on a third-and-1 late in the game

“We were in a very short yardage goal line situation, so we had everybody up there expecting some type of power play or a dive over the top. D.J. was shading the back side and with his speed and quickness he was able to make the tackle backside. He did a great job. Weak side is his natural position, he played it through college and when you go to MIKE linebacker and you have never played it in your career, it does take some time to get used to. D.J. is such a great athlete who made a lot of great plays. The linebackers played well but like I said, we have to straighten some things up in our pass defense but we can get better at that in a short time. The thing you can’t get better at is stopping the run and hopefully we can keep our guys playing at that level and help them improve and keep the effort that we had in that game.”


On the defense’s confidence being 3-0

“You are always happy to be 3-0. You take a look at a game where a team gets 500 yards of offense then you usually get guys that are not playing as hard as you would like. But when you get guys playing at that level and that intensity, even though they did rack up that many yards, then you have a chance to get better.”


On being a young team

“It has to do with personnel. That is the key. You are going to do whatever you think is the best thing to do to give you a chance to win. Some teams may have a weak offensive tackle or a weak wide receiver. Obviously I am not talking about our football team, but when you are presented with those situations, you may have injuries and you have to do what you have to do to win. You can’t run the same offense and you might not be able to run the same defense if you don’t have those players so you have to adjust your game plan accordingly. When you do have those players you feel like everything fits and everything is running on all cylinders, you have a chance to attack a lot more and keep the defense a little bit more off balance with the run and the pass. Great teams, once they get rolling can do both.”


On where he thinks WR Brandon Marshall ranks with other NFL wide receivers

“I am not on every team. I think you get a good feel for your own football team and that’s it. I do know one thing, I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in the league. I think he just started. I think you are going to see him break a lot more as time goes on. I don’t think he has even scratched the surface with his big plays and I think you started to see that Sunday. I think as he gets more confidence, he is just going to get better and better lowering his head and lowering his shoulder to run over those defensive backs. He is a guy that is 6’5, 230 lbs. who knocked out two defensive ends and a safety last year in three consecutive games. He is a very physical guy and once he learns to turn up consistently like he did Sunday, he is going to make more plays. He is a talented guy that is for sure. He makes big time catches and Jay (Cutler) makes some big time throws.”


On scoring 34 points but still leaving points out on the field against the Saints

“Really (the offense) scored 27 and Nate (Webster) picked that (fumble) up and went for a touchdown. There were four or five blocks on that which were just off the charts. That should have been probably a 5 or 6-yard gain. When you take a look at it very closely you’re going ‘Holy Cow’ That’s a lot of guys playing very hard. You get down inside the 10-yard line and we had that fumble. We had it again inside the 20 and we didn’t get in, so we left some points out there.”


On the young players

“You just don’t know (what you have) until you get into your OTAs, but I’ve been impressed with our young guys. I think it really showed up on special teams this week with the effort that we had with young guys coming through. You get guys like (FB Spencer) Larsen. The guy is just bowling people up and down the field. I don’t know if you saw the first kickoff coverage, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get hit as hard as Spencer Larsen delivered on one of those backs on the kickoff return. It was as hard of a hit as I have seen. It looked like he decapitated his head—he just pushed him right back.


“You don’t really know. I think you take a look at our young guys and a guy like (T) Ryan Clady: No. 1, he’s very talented. No. 2, he’s very mature. He came into OTAs and had no setbacks physically. You take a look at (T) Ryan Harris: he’s another guy that’s very mature and very athletic. (WR) Eddie Royal: you never know with a wide receiver how long it takes him to come in or how mature he is but he has come in and fit right into the system. (FB) Peyton Hillis: he has come in and he’s been good. It hasn’t been perfect by any means, but fullbacks are always a wok in progress and he has hit it full speed. On the offensive side we’ve had a lot of guys really step up that are young players and you don’t get that all the time. We knew they were skilled, but you’re always hoping they are mature enough to handle the situations.”


On defensive communication

“On defense it’s harder to communicate at home for obvious reasons. We use (artificial) crowd noise on Fridays so it helps with those signals. We got screwed up a little bit on a few of our signals but that’s why you practice with crowd noise. We will improve in that area.”


On whether the earpiece in the linebacker’s helmet has helped with defensive communication

“It does (make it easy for) the linebackers, but you still have to signal into the secondary. Your linebackers may get the call but you may have a certain adjustment for a certain empty set, for a certain slot set, so you’re just talking to one guy. He still has to communicate it to the rest of the team.”


On postseason odds after starting 3-0

“I know it’s better than 2-0. I can’t tell you those percentages, but it’s sure nice to be 3-0. I think our guys are realistic: We have a ways to go. We’ve had a good start, we’ve made some strides, but we’re from where we want to be. “


On LB Boss Bailey covering tight ends

“He’s good. It all depends on which coverages you’re in. You can’t always isolate a tight end unless you’re in man coverage all the time. We have some great tight ends in the league. Obviously (Kansas City TE Tony) Gonzalez is as good as it gets.”


On TE Tony Scheffler

“He was second (on the depth chart) last week. We used him in our certain personnel grouping and (TE) Nate (Jackson) we used in other personnel groupings. We have a lot of confidence in all of our tight ends: (TE) Daniel Graham, as well as Tony, as well as Nate. That’s a luxury you want to have. You want to have three tight ends where you can move them around, keep them fresh and depending on what kind of gameplan you have you can utilize your talents. Last week (vs. San Diego) we felt we had a mismatch with Tony on their safety and we utilized him more a week ago. This week we have a little different gameplan.”  


On playing a 3-4 defense in the first half against New Orleans

“We used our outside linebackers and inside linebackers in pressure yesterday quite a bit, even though (Saints QB Drew Brees) is pretty sharp. He knows how to get rid of the ball fairly quickly. So even though it didn’t work out, I think it will pay dividends down the line. If you have a three-man rush you’re not really sure who is coming. The disadvantage of a four-man front is they know the front four is usually coming and you know what the coverage is.


“You have to feel good about your linebackers. (LB ) Jamie Winborn played exceptionally well against the Raiders and the preseason games when (LB) Boss (Bailey) was out.”


On DT DeWayne Robertson

“That big fourth-and-one he got some penetration on the right side and (LB) Nate (Webster) made a great stop. Everybody has a gap on the goal line and there has to be penetration in that situation to top them. Your defensive front has to play extremely well. Dewayne got almost into the backfield and Nate just met (the running back) right at the line of scrimmage.”   


On playing at Kansas City this week

“You know how well Kansas City has played us through the years so we know we are going to get their best shot. I don’t really worry about what’s been done in the past because if you really believe that going into Kansas City, you can get embarrassed pretty quickly. In this profession, you had better worry about your own team and get them ready. Our team will be ready.”


On the thought of converting WR Brandon Marshal to a tight end when he was drafted

“One of the reasons why he went in the fourth round is when you watched him play you saw a guy who made some plays but you were not sure of his speed or quickness which he showed once he got here the first day. You weren’t sure if he did have the speed to be a wide receiver. He did play very well when he went to one of the bowl games and in his workout he looked exceptional. But when you looked at him on tape, you could not see the speed or quickness that you see in person. On the first day that he practiced, (CB) Champ Bailey looked over at me and said ‘How did you get this guy in the fourth round?’ If everybody knew the kind of speed and quickness that he had he would have been a top-10 pick. We should have taken him a lot earlier.”