Vic Fangio compliments are known as such a rarity that anytime there’s a hint of one, it’s a story.
So when rookie defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones joined the Broncos Country Tonight crew on Monday, Fangio’s post-game compliment of Jones - stated again in the Monday presser - was definitely on the table.
Fangio called Jones’ progress throughout the season as “good,” which is pretty close to high praise from the coach.
“He had a pretty good sprained ankle and a lot of guys wouldn’t had played yesterday with what he had, but he wanted to play,” Fangio said Monday afternoon.
According to Fangio, Jones had actually lobbied to play - something the rookie attributed to his upbringing at home as well as at The Ohio State University.
“I think that’s a good indication of who he is as a guy and he got rewarded with a couple of sacks,” Fangio added. “Those are the kind of guys you want on your team.”
Jones capitalized on starters being injured and said while it’s been an adjustment going to a 4-3, he’s feeling more confident.
“I’ve been getting coached hard. Like a rookie would; just like a rookie should,” Jones said.
Of course, it’s come with a lot of yelling from Bill Kollar.
“Oh he’s been all over my head all year, but it’s gotten to the point of building confidence in me,” Jones laughed. “Not so much yelling at me but teaching me so I’ve got confidence. I’ve gained more confidence playing.”
That has no doubt been part of the brilliance of the bear wrestler, and Jones is just his latest subject. But while the rookie has definitely had to learn the patience of playing a “two-gap system” and watching both gaps rather than “just shooting one gap” and “letting the linebackers make your mistakes,” he has learned through this season that the Fangio system works.
And that’s part of the reason the defense has come on so strong of late.
“I think we’re starting to trust it more. It has worked,” Jones said. “Vic shows us the stats of how we rank against other teams in the NFL and it’s pretty dang high.”
Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright pointed out that even in the loss to Kansas City, the defense held Patrick “I can throw with any hand I’d like” Mahomes to his second-lowest scoring total in his career.
And Jones agreed that the defense uses that to keep its confidence in the process.
“We have to look at that,” he said. “You lose that confidence when you see 23-3, but you have to remind yourself in retrospect we didn’t have a bad game.”
By the same token, although the Detroit Lions came into Mile High 3-10, they played tough and there was nothing easy about that game for Jones or the Broncos. But neither the offense nor defense panicked, Jones pointed out, and just continued to fight through illness, injuries and playing with a slew of starters out.
“Playing Detroit last night was tough. They’re 3-10 and they played us tough. We didn’t panic too much,” said Jones who had two sacks on the day. “We felt like we hadn’t given away the game; we were still in control. Once we got in our groove, we were good.”
So Jones and his fellow defenders will be taking that confidence into a bit of a revenge game against the Raiders this Sunday.
Scratch that. A TOTAL revenge game.
And the ability to take away the Raiders’ chances at the playoffs is not lost on Jones.
“Oh yeah. We know what’s at stake for them. We’re trying to be some dream killers,” he said. “No. 1 that’s what I want to do. We can’t go; they can’t go. ...We didn’t expect to lose to them that way at their place, so we definitely want to come back with some fire.”