Q & A with Mike Shanahan

Transcripts from Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan's afternoon Press Conference

On concerns of a letdown after the Broncos' bye week
"Not really, I think any time that you go for four weeks in the preseason and then you have nine games, it's a good time to get away from (football) mentally and physically. You get a chance to heal up physically. Mentally, (the coaches) put a lot of pressure on the players with different gameplans each week. So I really think (the bye) came at a good time for our football team. You always want to go into the second half of the season playing well, and I think we did that against Houston. Hopefully we keep it going."

On the calf injury to DT Luther Elliss
"It's quite new. He was jogging Monday; We were doing 100-yard dashes, really doing striders. The second or third 100 that he did, he pulled a calf muscle. He's on crutches and quite sore. He's definitely out this game, and I'm not sure how long it's going to take. Just looking at him, it's going to be a while. I think I will get a better idea at the end of the week. We did an MRI and the muscle is not torn, so that is positive. So there is a chance, but we will just have to wait and see."

On the Saints' defense
"Statistics, they don't lie. You take a look at (the Saints), they held Kansas City to 20 points. They went to the Rams, and they beat the Rams at their place. They are a very capable, very talented football team. (Against) Minnesota, they gave up 600 yards, but they still had a chance to win the football game: 38-31. They are a very talented team. Offensively, (Aaron) Brooks has done some amazing things at the quarterback position; he hasn't made a lot of mistakes. He's got the ability to make big plays consistently down the field. Then you get a guy like (Deuce) McAllister, who averages 7.9 yards per rushing attempt (and gets) 16 carries for 127 yards against Kansas City. So you take a look at all that. Three out of the last four games they are averaging about 30 points, and I think they are a lot like us right now. I think they are averaging about the same amount of points, but they have been playing better in the last three-out-of-four games. They are right in that 30-point total (per game). They are playing with a lot of confidence on offense. Defensively, you look at the way they played against Kansas City; They had a must game and they kept (Kansas City) out of the endzone. That is the sign of a good football team or a team that is believing in themselves. They had their backs against the wall and had to come away with a win and they did."

On what he did with his weekend off
"I got out of town. It was the first time I've gotten out of town. It was nice to get out of town with my wife for a couple days and get away from the phones. We had three days of preparation on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Three days we had preparation for the Saints, and then came back here Sunday night and caught up a little bit. It was good for me. I feel a lot more refreshed this time of year after a bye week. I don't have to play, so physically it doesn't matter. Mentally, maybe (it matters) a little bit."

On teams' abilities to become great rather than just good
"You have to play your best football in November and December to give you a chance to play well in January. I thought our first game of the second half of the season we played a lot better than we have been. I think what we have to do, on both sides of the ball – offensively, we've talked about scoring points. We have to prove it in the redzone, prove it on third downs if we want to do the stuff we are capable of doing. Defensively, we've been playing pretty consistent, but we would like some more turnovers. We have to play at a high level that will dictate how good we are.

"We have a great group of guys. We have some strong character. But I hate to put a team at a certain level, at a certain standard, at this time in the season. It all depends on what you do in the second half of the season that dictates who you are and what you are, as players and coaches. If you don't get it done, you don't get it done. Regardless of what type of potential you have, you have to find a way to get it done in the second half. This is a run that we have to get things done. Our players know it, our coaches know it and now we find out if we live up to the expectations that we think we can live up to."

On doing things differently for an early game time Sunday (12:00 p.m. CST) against the Saints
"What I try to do is practice at game time. So Friday we will come in here and practice earlier, so your body will get used to starting earlier in the morning and you wake up earlier, you have earlier meetings. Our Friday practice will be earlier than normal because we play at that time. That's what you want to do, is get your body used to something a little different. I've done it in the past, where we are in games and it feels like you don't wake up until the second half. You try to put your players through it, and I think that has helped us."

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