Q & A with Mike Shanahan

Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan addresses the media regarding this week's matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.<br><br> Check out the complete transcript

On his confidence in the Broncos' defense
"I think we have made some strides defensively. I think we have played some good games, and we've played some games that we are not as proud of as well. This time of year, you are hoping to play your best football, and hopefully we can put one together."

On the depth in Denver's secondary compared to what it was for last season's playoff game at Indianapolis
"We are much stronger going in. Any time you lose three guys, your third-round draft choice (CB Jeremy LeSueur) and (CBs Lenny Walls and Willie Middlebrooks), obviously you're not as deep. I think we are still deep enough to be productive. We are fortunate enough to get two young guys that have played well in Roc Alexander, and in a limited role, with Jeff Shoate. We still have Nick Ferguson ready to play. I feel much better about our depth this year than I did a year ago. Last year we lost a couple guys, and we were devastated. This year, we were able to play and play at a fairly consistent high level with the injuries."

On the potential that the Colts' starting offense will see reduced playing time Sunday
"I think the key word there was ‘potentially.' We are going to get ready to play as if their starters are going to play the whole game. This is a very big game for us. Everything that you work for is to get to the playoffs. Once you get there, you feel like you have an opportunity. We were seeded one time No. 4, and a lot of people didn't give us a chance. We feel like if we get into the playoffs, we have a chance to do something special. Regardless on how they play the game, we are going to play as if their starters are going to play every snap. Hopefully we put the game together that we are capable of playing."

On how Denver's secondary can make progress
"You try to feed off your last game, especially when the game before that was not very good. You look at the positives and the things you did well as a team. You keep on stressing those during the week, doing the little things the right way."

On how much motivation is needed with the playoffs on the line
"I don't think there is any motivation that (is needed for) a game like this because everything you work for is to get to the playoffs. If I have to motivate our football team to get them to play at a certain level in this game then we have the wrong makeup of this team. But I don't believe that is the case. I think our team will be very motivated. We know what is at stake. We have stumbled, but we have a chance to control our own destiny and that's all that matters. Once you get to the playoffs you have a chance, and this team will be focused and hopefully ready to play."

On the strategy used when possibly facing the same opponent in back-to-back weekends
"I don't really get caught up in that because right now we're not even sure who we are going to play (in the playoffs). First thing you have to do is win. Second thing, you have to be a little lucky. (Indianapolis) was very smart the second time we played them. They went to a three and four wide receiver set when we were down on our personnel. I don't want to take anything away from them because they played extremely well. We didn't play like we should have, offensively, to keep them off the field. There are a number of different scenarios there that you are not very proud of, but that was a year ago. Like you said, anything is possible, but what we have to do is focus on this game and let the chips fall where they may."

On his coaching decisions when playing in games in which the outcome did not affect his team's playoff seed
"To be honest with you, I've been in so many different scenarios through my coaching career (that) I think you can probably make a case for whatever direction you want to go in. The only one that has worked for me is losing two in a row. Losing in week 14 and 15 and winning (week) 16. As a coordinator in San Francisco, we had won 10 games in a row, and we had lost our last one 21-14 in the Super Bowl year to Minnesota. We had the chance to break a lot of records that year, but we didn't play our starters very much. We scored 14 points and I think we had about 230 yards (on offense), and we had a chance to probably break every offensive record, and the players wanted to do that. (Head Coach) George (Seifert) decided not to, and I think we averaged scoring 40, 42, 43 points a game over the next three games, so it didn't phase us. You could use another scenario for another team -- All of a sudden it didn't work out for them. I think you just have to go with your gut feeling as a coach and do what you think is best for your team. A lot has to do with injuries on a team presently, at lease it was for me at that time. Are you healthy? How deep are you? Do you feel like you need to play a good game to get your confidence back? Do you have a bye week? There are so many different factors. You just have to go with your gut."

On the offensive production needed by the Broncos against the Colts
"You want to put the ball in the endzone, there is no question about it. I think we addressed the redzone in my Monday press conference, and it's not quite as bad as it looks. We knelt down one time, we missed two third-and-1's and we probably would have went for it if we didn't feel like we had control of the football game. Yeah, we want to put a complete game together. Everything we work for throughout the year comes down to this weekend. Regardless of who we play the next game, we have to take care of business this game. We want to, at least, end the season on a positive note, feeling good about our football team, and feeling good about the direction we are going in the playoffs if we do take care of business."

On how a home crowd can affect play calling by the quarterback
"Well they have hand signals, but let me put a little pitch in here; Yeah, it's a big difference. Playing at home with the crowd, with the offense not begin able to hear their audibles, it's a big, big advantage for the home team. Especially against a team that audibles as much at the line of scrimmage as they (the Colts) do. The louder they are, obviously the better it will be for us."

On if the crowd at INVESCO Field at Mile High has ever been as loud as the crowd at the old Mile High Stadium
"I don't think so. I think at times it has been close, but I think it has a lot to do with the structure of the stadium."

On the accomplishments of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning this season
"He's just been unbelievable. I'm not sure you can play much better than how he has been playing. You take a look at the passing efficiency, take a look at touchdowns to interceptions and yards per attempt. It's quite an accomplishment."

On the possibility of playing DE/DT Trevor Pryce, who has missed the last 14 games with a back injury, against Indianapolis
"I really don't know. He's made some strides over the past two weeks. He was not ready to play last week against Tennessee or else he would have played. I'm hoping he makes a big jump this week before he can help us in this game. I'll get a much better feel for that over the next three days.

"Trevor has the right attitude. He wants to go out there and play, and I'm hoping that he does play. What we try to do is evaluate what a player is doing during the week. We know how they practice and how they can do going against different offensive linemen. If we don't feel like he can practice or play at a certain level, he's not going to help us in the game; He's going to hurt us in the game. I'm hoping he can make strides where he can help us this week because I would love to play him. We all know what a dominating player he is, but I don't want to put him out there and have him set himself back a year or two years because he wants to help us in this last game. If he is functional and we think he can help us, he'll play. I'm not going to risk his career if I think he can't help himself, or he wants to (play) just because it's the last game of the season and he knows it's a big game for us."

On creating pressure on the quarterback with the Broncos' defensive line
"Any time you get up on somebody like we did (against Tennessee), it really puts pressure on the offensive line. We don't have to play the run, and we can tee-off. If we can get up by 20 or 30, that would sure be nice for the defensive linemen. Realistically, (Indianapolis) is a very balanced team with the run and the pass, averaging 4.5, 5 yards per carry; I think 4.7, with a great passing attack. Once you start teeing-off on the passing game to put pressure on them, they are very sound in the running game where they are going to move the football. That's one of the reasons they are ranked No. 1 (offensively) this year. They are very balanced, very heady and they really don't have any weaknesses."

On the best way to defend against the Colts' offense
"That's why I think they have been able to be successful like they have been. Because they do have the ability to change it up. If you don anything consistently with Peyton Manning, you're going to be in for a long day. You have to mix it up and you have to keep them a little off balance. If you show (Manning) what you are going to do on every play, you are going to be in for a long day. Even if you are able to disguise it, you have to be very well coordinated because he is smart enough to pick up the strengths and weaknesses very quickly."

On why Manning and the Colts' passing offense has been so successful
"It's a combination of (Manning and the offensive line). They are very intelligent. They understand where the pressure is coming from. (Manning) takes a lot of pride in not being sacked. He'll throw the ball away, he doesn't care about stats. He's going to everything he can possibly do to help his team win, but he is smart enough to take the sack when he has to. He doesn't do it very often, but he does do it."

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