The Denver Broncos have a very good presser on Thursday as the team continued to prepare to face the Green Bay Packers in Week 3. All of the major coaches and two of the teams biggest stars met with the media to talk about the state of the franchise and the upcoming game.
Here were some of the highlights from the presser.
When will the Broncos offense start scoring some more points?
Broncos’ Offensive Coordinator Rich Scangarello has a lot on his plate as a first-time coordinator in the NFL. So far, the results have been mixed through two games. The offense has been moving the ball, but coming up short on the scoring side of things.
On the absence of points despite having productive drives
“It’s a weird game in the sense that you felt like had opportunities to score more point, no doubt. But I’ll say this, that was most dominant defense in the NFL last year and the can make anyone look back, and they’ve done it. The made Green Bay look bad the week before. Last year I watched the Rams barely move the ball on them. The goal was not to turn it over and we did. That cost us seven points and that’s part of where you see those extra plays and the lack of points on the board. But if you watch the play before, I thought it was a touchdown. [Bears LB] Roquan Smith, the great player that he is, he’s one of the few linebackers that can tackle [WR] Emmanuel [Sanders] in that situation. He was better than we were on that play and that’s me as a play-caller, us as players and the next play was the turnover. That was a 13- or 14-play drive that was very efficient when it mattered. That’s the kind of people we have, and they played hard. I know we’re going to be great, I know we’re going to score points.”
The Broncos are playing complementary football, but the issues in the red zone have continued to plague the team on both sides of the ball. Scangarello talked about that and the positives, but noted there is still much work to be done.
On the sense of urgency in the red zone
“I will say this, the whole goal in the building is to play complementary football. If we win 13-10 or if we win 38-35, I don’t think anyone in this building truly cares. Now, people on the outside might have their opinions why that is. I want to help the defense, that means take care of the football and don’t turn it over. We went seven and a half quarters and we didn’t turn it over. We needed it to go eight and that’s our job. Sometimes the possessions play out that way. I don’t want Vic [Fangio] to have to play 70 plays nor does he. But we played 82, that’s a good thing, but we need results. In the end, we’re complementing each other, but we need to get results in the red zone.”
The Achilles heel of the offense has been penalties. These have mostly come at the worst moments when the team was either in scoring position or nearing it. While Scangarello talked about that a little, the questions eventually went towards Garett Bolles - who has been the most egregious offender in the penalty department through two games.
On what the offense needs to work out
“Actually, that’s a really good question. Obviously, we’re trying to master our craft as a group and be efficient and tighten some things up that are hurting us. There are some little things, but you’re always doing that. I don’t care who you are on offense and how prolific it looks like you’re scoring, there are always things to work on. Right now, yeah, the penalties are killing us and those are things that need to be cleaned up. We understand, we’re working on it and we’re going to get it right.”
On what his message is to Bolles was
“To be confident and not to lose that. Just go be a player and honestly, don’t listen to the noise. Work on your craft, get better at the things that you have to get better at—and him and [Offensive Line Coach] Mike [Munchak] on that since day one. He’s done a lot of good things, too. I’ve seen improvement in him as a player, but he played a really good player (Bears LB Khalil Mack). Sometimes he tries to finish and gets a little out of control and we have to rectify that. He knows that and we know that. That’s our job to help him do that.”
How does all this translate into a plan of attack this weekend? Against the Chicago Bears, the game plan centered around avoiding that defenses strength, which was its front seven. Instead, Scangarello spread the offense out and used Joe Flacco’s arm to advance the football with great success. Well, until they go near scoring range and penalties and other issues cropped out to keep the score low.
On whether Broncos will attack the Packers with more balance
“Again, with Chicago, we’re behind the chains because of some penalties. As far as the balance goes, it’s hard to just run the ball against those guys. 96 (DL Akeim Hicks) and Khalil are just too darn good. They are the best players of their positions in the league or darn near. Yeah, I thought and we thought, the best way to get them was in base defense and spread them out. That meant get Emmanuel the ball on space and get our backs the ball on space and try to do those kinds of things. That was the plan, that’s like running the ball. It’s West Coast 101, Bill Walsh back in the day. This week, the plan is whatever is the best way to give the advantageous situation with their personnel and our personnel. We’ll see how that plays out, but yeah we always want to be balanced.”
I would expect Scangarello to definitely go in the opposite direction against the Packers. Their run defense is nearly at the bottom of the league, but their pass defense has been stout. Both Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay should have big games if the play calling and execution is done right.
How is the defense going to defend against Aaron Rodgers?
Head Coach Vic Fangio spent a good portion of his time at the podium on Thursday to discuss how the Broncos hope to defend against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Sunday. Part of that will come from disguising the defensive play call from being identified by Rodgers, but that is also something the Broncos have struggled to get communication right on through two games.
On how he can disguise defensively against Rodgers
“Any defensive package has multiple ways of playing different coverages, different fronts, different personnel groups. We can do that. It shouldn’t be a problem for our guys.”
More importantly, how will the Broncos lock down and take away Rodgers’ favorite target in Davante Adams? Hopefully the plan there is to have Chris Harris Jr. go anywhere and everywhere Adams goes and live or die with that decision.
On how they hope to slow down Davante Adams
“We’ll obviously give him some attention sometimes, but like any great receiver you can’t be giving him attention every play. When we’re not if they go there, whoever is covering him is going to have to win some battles. Ultimately a lot of these games come down to one-on-ones and who wins them and who doesn’t. He’s a great player. Unfortunately, I’ve seen him up close and personal for the last few years and he’s really developed into one of the top receivers in the game.”
If they succeed in limiting Adams from getting into any kind of rhythm with Rodgers, then it makes defending the rest of the field a little easier.
Again, what is going on with the lack of a pass rush?
The lack of a pass rush continues to be a topic of concern for most Broncos fans. Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell was asked about that, but instead focused on the lack of takeaways through two games. That was a major point of emphasis all offseason, but so far it has not paid any dividends. That is the first issue he is working on, but pressure up front could be the antidote to the lack of takeaways.
On the lack of sacks or takeaways so far
“It’s very important to us, first talking with the takeaways. That’s something that we work on. It’s a major emphasis and we intend to improve that and we will improve that. It’s an important part of the game. We’re hard at work to rectify that. As for the sacks, there’s been a lot of situational plays where we really haven’t had the lead or the long third downs to pin our ears back and get going. I look for that to improve as we get going, but again it’s another major emphasis. That’s another way that the game is disrupted, and we need to coach that better and get more production.”
Von Miller also met with the media and most of the questions there had to do with the goose egg he has through two games in the sack department. While sacks are nice, Miller noted that his frustration has more to do with the lack of wins than the lack of sacks. He sees a great team this year that hasn’t quite figured out how to win.
On whether he is fighting frustration with the lack of sacks
“I think more than frustration for me is just not winning. We’ve got a great team. We’ve got great players. I just want to win. I feel like everything comes with wins. It’s just frustrating knowing what we’ve got in the locker room, what we’ve got upstairs and everything that we put into it and not be able to win. I feel like that’s where the frustration come from. We just need to break through. We’ve been practicing really, really well this week and I’m excited about going to Green Bay and playing a good team.”
On how teams have game planned to stop him from getting sacks
“I feel like every week they’re going to gameplan against you, right? It’s not like you’re going to fly under the radar and like OK, let’s pick somebody else to gameplan against this week. It’s going to be same thing every week, we’ve just got to find a way to get there. These slumps, they come. I haven’t had one at the beginning of the season like this before though. But they come and you just got to fight through the difficulties. We’ve got a great team, we’ve got a great defensive line, we’ve got a great defense and we’ve just got to keep playing and playing for the breakthrough.”
Bradley Chubb echoed Miller’s “break through” comments.
On why he thinks they are close to a breakthrough
“Yeah, I feel like we’re close. We’ve been in the position, we’ve just got to finish those. When it comes to the win-loss column, it’s just like two plays that we’re missing. Two plays—I feel like it could be in those games that we’re losing. I feel like when everybody locks in and we’re able to focus on those small little details that may happen in the first quarter or second quarter, you never know. It won’t come down to a ref having to make a call or the clock running out or anything like that. We’ll have it controlled and handled so it doesn’t have to come down to that.”
The team has lost two games by a single possession, but they were kind of robbed against Chicago. They were close and maybe this team is better than people think. The wins need to start coming though, and soon.