Coach's Corner - Josh McDaniels 10-5-10

Josh McDaniels met with the media and discussed the importance of Kyle Orton, the play of Robert Ayers and the status of the team heading into Baltimore. Check out the full transcripts

Opening comments
"After watching the tape, I thought we played really hard — not always well in every phase, but we played hard and we competed. I thought we kept our composure in a game where there were some situations that could have gotten out of hand. I thought our players did a good job of keeping their poise and continued to try to play the game the way we wanted to play the game.

"Offensively, we didn't do a very good job of executing in the running game. We were poor at the line of scrimmage, lost the line of scrimmage a number of times and had penetration in the backfield. Then, on a few of the opportunities that we did have, I thought we could have more than we made out of a few runs and didn't do that either. We're complicating the issue right now in the running game. I think we have to start to trust that the play is going to be blocked properly and then the runner has to run and find green grass. We have to eliminate the penetration and start stringing together some plays that move the ball and keep the pressure off the passing game.

"We had some really positive plays in the screen game yesterday. I think we had 100 yards on screens, which is helpful against their pass rush and their pressures. (We) did a good job of staying in the game and not ever hanging our head and fighting and (we) made a play late in the game to certainly change the field position on the pass interference and then get it in to take the lead late.

"(We had) too many hits on our quarterback — I think we had 15 negative plays total yesterday, which is way too many to continue to maintain the time of possession that we've been able and fortunate to have over the first four games. We're not going to be able to overcome 15 negative plays every week. That starts with our ability to keep the line of scrimmage clean, run and hit the holes when we're running the football and then keep (QB) Kyle (Orton) standing on his two feet because he's been pretty effective when he's been doing that.

"Defensively, our game plan was really to limit the big-play opportunities on (RB Chris) Johnson. I thought the defense did an excellent job of really maintaining their discipline all day. (They) didn't run up the field, they kind of built a wall at the line of scrimmage. (LB Jason) Hunter and (LB Robert) Ayers really did an excellent job all day of setting the edge in the running game and not letting (QB Vince) Young scramble outside the pocket (and) also to not let Johnson bounce it out to the corner. I'm real proud of the way that those two guys played all day long and they didn't take any plays off. We talked about that during the week. You take one play and you relax and all of the sudden it's an 85-yard Sports Center highlight. They didn't give that up, which was great. I thought that our third-down defense and second-half defense in general was excellent. We got off the field when we had field position and continued to give the offense the ball back with good field position. (We) had a huge stop in the four-minute defense there to give our offense an opportunity when (Tennessee) was trying to run the clock out and the defense made a bunch of good plays there to give our offense another opportunity and then they capitalized on it. We were able to stop the run and we played a lot of man coverage yesterday. (We) gave up a couple of things in the passing game, but I think we played 75-80 percent man coverage during the course of the day. We put a lot of pressure on those guys to cover and limit big plays and (Tennessee) had a few positive pass plays in the first half but (our defense) really did a good job as the game wore on, in terms of limiting their production.

"Offensively, we gave game balls to Kyle Orton and (WR) Brandon Lloyd. Defensively, we gave them to (DL) Kevin Vickerson, who is getting better and better every week; (S Brian) Dawkins played like he was 24 years old; Ayers and Hunter had another solid day on the edge, like I said. (There were) a lot of positive things there defensively. (There is) plenty to fix, offensively, in terms of some of the issues we had, but all-in-all I thought that we tried to play the game the way that we wanted to.

"In the kicking game, I thought our kickers kicked well. (K) Matt (Prater) didn't kickoff well into the wind, but he converted all of his scoring opportunities. (P) Britton (Colquitt) punted the ball well. We covered punts well; we certainly didn't cover kickoffs very well. That's something that we're going to address this week — think about who's out there, how we're going to cover them a little differently than what we did because we're giving up too many easy drive starts in the kickoff game right now, so that's an area that we're going to focus on hard this week and we're looking forward to getting ready for Baltimore."

On the importance of LB Robert Ayers and LB Jason Hunter maintaining focus on every play against Tennessee
"When I say taking plays off, I don't mean loafing, I mean doing their assignment the way we had to do it against (Tennessee) all day long and not spinning or creating a seam in the defense. I think part of that is maturity — not only as people, but I think that's a maturity in our scheme. I think they've learned that everybody else in the defense is trusting that they're going to set the edge in the running game and force it back inside where we can pound a lot of bodies out there and if they make a mistake, we don't really have anybody to make up for it. I think that they're learning how much responsibility we put on their shoulders sometimes and yesterday was probably even more than normal and again, (I'm) very proud of the way those two guys played all day."

On whether he thinks Sunday was LB Robert Ayers' best game as a pro
"I'd say it probably was his best day, yeah. Again, I don't think it's statistics for us when we looked at his performance, it was that he did his job on basically every play. He really kind of dominated the edge when they tried to run the ball towards him and he didn't run past the quarterback. He didn't let (QB Vince) Young run around in the backfield and create a lot of loose plays. I think his discipline, to me, was the big thing. If we were charting discipline, he was probably close to 100 percent."

On DL Jamal Williams
"We want to funnel it back into him. (DL Justin) Bannan played really well yesterday — we could have given out a lot of game balls yesterday, defensively. I think when you hold a runner like (RB Chris) Johnson to 53 yards rushing and 2.8 (yards) per carry, that's a great day by the team defense. Bannan had a really solid, productive day, (DL Kevin) Vickerson, I said played very well, Jamal played well and then we rotated a lot of guys in there. (DL Ronald) Fields did a good job when he was inside, (DL) Marcus Thomas had a big stop late in the game, (DL Ryan) McBean recovered the fumble and played well when he was in there. The rotation is kind of falling into place, in terms of the way we wanted it to go and they're really playing the style of run defense that we want them to play."

On the personality he wants the Broncos' defense to have
"The personality is tough and physical, hard to run against and don't give up big plays. I think we've shown ourselves that if we force the other team to go 80 yards on our defense, it's not easy to do that. When you can't run it consistently, that means you're going to have to execute a lot of pass plays in a row. We feel like we're capable of covering people with our cover plays when we're all healthy and out there and our secondary is at full strength. We have linebackers that do a good job when they have to cover people. So, that's really the identity that we've talked about for a long time, ‘Hey, let's make sure that they can't just create a bunch of chunk plays in the running game,' which really, we haven't given up too many — and then don't give up any plays over your head so that they have to drive the ball 10 or 12 plays, 80 yards on a long field and eventually we're going to stop them. That's really the identity that we want to have and so far when we've forced the (opposing) offense to do that, we've done a good job. Unfortunately, like you said, in Jacksonville and then yesterday and then a couple times in the Seattle game, our coverage units have really put the defense in a bad situation and even so, our defense has done a nice job of trying to get off the field and prevent touchdowns and forcing field goals in some of those situations."

On whether QB Kyle Orton has surprised him this season
"No, he hasn't surprised me. I think we saw an evolution of a player this spring, (at the) end of training camp (and during the) preseason and really his play has remained consistent the entire year. He has a great grasp of what we're doing. I have great faith in what he's doing on the field. I feel like we can make adjustments during the course of the game that he can handle and allows him to be successful and also, Kyle's success is a product of a lot of people doing their jobs the right way and I think that any quarterback would say that. Our offensive line — like I said, we got hit a few too many times yesterday — but as the game wore on and the situation became more critical, we did a better job of keeping the pocket clean and giving him an opportunity to make some throws in the red zone late, two-minute offense, third down, whatever it may be. I thought that was a part of Kyle's success. Certainly, the receivers are playing well; the backs did a good job in the screen game yesterday. So, there are a lot of people that are doing their job well. Certainly, Kyle is playing at a high level for us and I think that we're looking at it this way: Until we get things fixed in the running game, the burden has got to be placed somewhere and I think Kyle has readily accepted that challenge along with the rest of our offense and we've got to work hard to fix that other element of our team and our offense, but I think right now, that's the best way for us to move the football and we're going to have to continue to do it."

On how the acquisitions of QBs Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow have affected QB Kyle Orton
"We met in January as a staff and one of the things we identified was that we needed better competition behind the players that were playing — in any spot that we could. That's obviously a way to improve the depth of your football team, first of all. But, we thought that would improve the quality of play of the players that were starting too. Not because they felt pressured, not because they felt panicked, but because if there's somebody there that's inching closer to taking your job away from you, then you perform better. You have a higher sense of urgency and you practice better, and that's what it was. It wasn't directed at Kyle, but we said we weren't going to limit that process to linemen, or tight ends or outside linebackers — any position on the team that we could improve; we would try to do that, to improve the entire level of play of our team and that group as a position. I think Kyle had a great attitude. I'm sure no player is excited when you draft somebody at his spot, when you bring a free agent in at his spot and Kyle's attitude was that ‘I'm going to have the best year of my career and it has nothing to do with those two players.' I think he's really followed through on that with his actions, which to me, is the only thing I care about — he's played to the level that he's capable of playing, regardless of who is behind him. I think the mentality that he had, I would share with the rest of our football team and say, ‘That's exactly what we're looking for.'"

On protecting the quarterback in a three-receiver set
"I think (you) can put a lot of pressure on the defense, particularly when our receivers are out there and they're playing pretty well. The one thing we have done is used (WR Jabar) Gaffney and (WR Demaryius) Thomas to chip the edge sometimes. We did it against Indianapolis, we did it again yesterday, and that sometimes gives you extra protection — just if it's a half second (or) a second longer than you would also get if you had two tight ends in the game. We're starting to be a little bit more creative with that, if we think it's a situation — a third-and-long, for example — and we need a little bit more time to hold onto the football. We've done a little bit of that. That is a dilemma, but I think our guys have shown the ability to protect well. We threw it 57 times against Indianapolis and (Orton) didn't get hit very many times. We have to do a better job every week of just making sure we keep the spot that he wants to throw from clean. We're capable of doing that, we've shown that, we've proven that, but again — yesterday it was kind of…‘inconsistent' is a good word. It wasn't bad, it just was inconsistent and (Orton) stood in there and he took some shots and he made some big throws when he got hit too. That's part of a quarterback's job. But to go back to your original question, three receivers, I think it may be our best grouping. I think it's a solid grouping to be in and we were in it a bunch yesterday."

On LB D.J. Williams
"In our scheme, a lot of times he's the tackler. The two guys on the edge do a good job of bringing (the play) back inside. (LB) Mario (Haggan) runs downhill and hits somebody in the face and then takes on another one and then D.J. comes over and whenever he has a chance to tackle somebody... We had two missed tackles yesterday in 55 plays, so as a defense we're tackling better. We tackled well last week and D.J. is certainly a guy that we count on to make a lot of those plays."

On whether the team practices differently during a stretch of games against very physical teams
"Well, we gave them today off. That's a good start — they were all happy — ‘overjoyed' would be a good word. I think the thing about that is it's still early in the season. If it were later in the season, it might be a little different. I think again, when you're trying to work on specific areas of your team — like the running game on offense — it's not a good idea to say, ‘Let's go out in shells today.' I don't know that we're going to get any better in the running game doing that. They have some time off today (and) tomorrow to rest up and heal. Our injury report, in terms of overall nicks and bumps is as clean as it's been all season. We came out of the game relatively healthy with not a lot of extra visits to the training room. So, I think we're doing OK right now. I think we would definitely be smart about that if we felt that our team needed it but I'm expecting a team that's really excited to get ready for Baltimore. We had a bad week of preparation, a bad week of practice last year before we played the Ravens and they kicked our butts. They're a really good football team, a physical football team. We're going to need to be ready to play our most physical game of the year against them and we need to have a great week of practice, so I think we'll be out there in pads."

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