aThe Denver Broncos are in full Week 1 preparation mode to take on the Oakland Raiders this coming Monday night. The media during Wednesday’s team presser seemed obsessed about what everyone thought of Antonio Brown, but that stuff is all fluff and no fill.
Instead, there were some good quotes on topics that should be of more interest to Broncos fans than how great Antonio Brown is/was. Here were the highlights from the presser that interested me the most.
Vic Fangio defines leadership in a way that makes sense
- When it comes to leadership, Vic Fangio isn’t an anointing kind of guy. He figures if a guy has earned the right to lead, then that will all work itself out without his interference. Fangio on no season-long captains: “I just think everybody’s got the license to become a leader on the team. You don’t need to be appointed. I think leadership is something that somebody takes; it’s not granted to them, whether it be by a coaching staff or a vote. You take it. You don’t get proclaimed that.”
- Chris Harris Jr. kind of backed that sentiment up by saying he’s going to do what he’s going to do regardless of who is wearing the patch. It just kind of proves Fangio’s point that leaders take leadership - they are not given it. CHJ on naming captains: “I’m with whatever coach says. I really have never cared in too much to that. I’m always going to be vocal on the field and do what I do out there. I’m continuing to be me on the field, continuing to lead these boys with how I practice and how I prepare and get ready to go.”
Elijah Wilkinson might just be the most important backup
- If you look at the Broncos’ depth chart, Elijah Wilkinson is all over the place. He will be the guy who keeps the Broncos offensive line rotation strong, but that will only last for as long as the starting five stay healthy. Fangio when asked about the OL depth chart said: “It’s difficult. But I think most every team in the NFL dresses seven (offensive linemen) per game. Occasionally you might see an eighth one in there. There’re guys on every team that have to know two or three spots. When you say two or three, you’re counting both sides usually. Yeah, he’s valuable because of that, but every team has to be able to do that.”
- While there might be some concerns about pass protection, Fangio expects the Broncos run blocking to be efficient. The only question that remains in his mind is if they can do it in a real game. Fangio on the OL: “I think they’ve worked well together over time. Starting in April when we got with these guys, all the way through to now, I think they’ve worked well together. I think [Offensive Line Coach] Mike [Munchak] and the two coaches working with him have done a great job in bringing these guys along. They’ve got to go out and do it in a real game now, and we’ll see who can do that.”
The offense still has questions that need answering
- This was covered heavily in our early Broncos-Raiders game preview today. The Broncos offense struggled to score touchdowns, but they did move the ball pretty well. That leaves us with some positives and some negatives. Fangio, too, is in a wait and see mode on the offense heading into Week 1. Fangio on the offensive struggles in preseason: “I know we had the struggles there early when the first group offense was working, but it’s not like we had a bunch of opportunities. I don’t think one or two qualifies as an epidemic. It is something to be aware of. I’m not promising that we’ve got it fixed, but what I am saying is that I don’t know that it’s an epidemic yet. We’ll see.”
Could Chris Harris Jr. be poised for a career year?
- Vic Fangio knows how to coach a defensive unit into greatness. He has done it year after year over the last decade. He now gets an extremely talented defense to start with and some hungry veterans like Harris to work with. Although, Fangio hinted that the average layperson probably won’t see Harris lining up any differently, but it sure sounds like the results will be different. Fangio on CHJ’s role being different on defense: “It probably isn’t, from where you’re going to see him line up and all that. We’re playing different things than he’s been used to playing—different coverages and responsibilities. But with your eyes seeing him line up, it’s going to be very similar.”
- Harris followed up later in the presser to say that there are a lot more “sprinkles” involved in this defense. CHJ on the Fangio defense: “It’s a lot of things that are different. We still play a lot of man as we did in the past, but we sprinkle in a little more zones. That’s the best answer I can say. We just sprinkle it in a little bit more.”
Expect the defense to be less predictable than last year
- Any fan reading this website, knows how frustrating it was to watch the defense last year. The offense too, but all of those players and coaches are gone now. Many of the same players remain on the defense and what Fangio is doing is spreading some of the stress around and being less predictable overall. Bradley Chubb explained some of that today. Chubb on Fangio’s defense: “I feel like he doesn’t have to do anything, he just gives us the scheme and we all have that confidence within ourselves and within each other. He’s one of those guys who is going to put you in a position to make a play, so I feel like that helps out as well. I feel like last year we had a lot of times where we’d be in man-on-man coverage like six plays in a row. The corners are stressing, but it might not be hard for me and Von [Miller] because all we’ve got to do is rush. I feel like now we’re spreading that around, maybe I’m dropping, maybe Von is dropping. You just never know, and I feel like that helps us out and it confuses the offense as well.”
- Another factor has to be communication, which Chris Harris has said is something that will be much improved this year. You can sense his excitement to have Bryce Callahan and Kareem Jackson in the defensive backfield to help dominate an offensively explosive AFC West. CHJ on communication with the new defensive backs on the team: “Definitely, I didn’t get to play as much with Bryce [Callahan] as I wanted to, but I think so. I think with [DB] Kareem [Jackson] and those guys coming in, it’s going to definitely help out. Shoot. Welcome to the AFC West. It’s a totally different world from what they’ve been in to. They’ll understand right when the game starts. It’s a totally different world out here in the AFC West.”