Coaches Corner 9/28/05

Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan talks to the media regarding the team's injury siutuation as well as the upcoming game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

MIKE SHANAHAN

On the Jacksonville defense
"They've been pretty good against everything. They're a good defensive football team, very consistent. They just play extremely hard, which is one of the reasons they've been very successful."

On the time change and humidity factor
"Well, it won't be quite as hot and humid as it was when we went to Miami. When we played there the second game last year, we were kind of lucky because the game wasn't too hot. I think it's in the lower 80s, or it's supposed to be in the lower 80s at game time, which is very similar to what we've been practicing with here. It shouldn't be too bad. Now for one team going from the west coast to the east or the east to the west… when I was in San Francisco, it didn't really matter to them. They were pretty consistent winning games on the east coast. It is something you have to adjust to, and I think it has to do more with your play more than it does the time zone."

On the built-in excuses of the weather, the time change and the long trip
"Well, first of all, you don't think about those things that you just mentioned – excuses. You either get it done or you don't. We're used to playing on Monday nights. We've had short weeks. We've been very successful with short weeks. Hopefully, we continue that."

On what can be taken from last year's game with Jacksonville
"Well, the only thing you really take is you get a chance to take a look at their personnel and our personnel… the adjustments they made to our offense or adjustment we made to their offense. It's just part of going against someone the year before. They found a way to beat us in a very close game. They got it done, and we didn't. Hopefully, we can reverse it this year."

On whether last year's loss to Jacksonville has stuck with him as ‘the game that got away'
"I think they all stick with you when you lose. You go back and you take a look at the film. But that's history. You try to make sure it doesn't happen again. We know we're going to have to play extremely well. It's a team that has done a great job on defense with turnovers, the running game, and pass defense. They don't give up a lot of big plays. Offensively, I think they're right in the middle of the pack, but they control the tempo of the game. I think they've been averaging 34 minutes a game in time of possession. They've done some great things on both sides of the ball and special teams. That was probably the difference last year. They had a big punt return that got them in field position. We have to play extremely well. They have a great punter, who I believe is leading the NFL in net yardage. There are a lot of things involved. We have to go out there and play at the same level that we did against Kansas City."

On cornerback Champ Bailey's left hamstring injury
"Obviously, it wasn't torn. So that's a good sign. We'll just have to wait and see during the week if he's able to go. I don't think he'll even try to go until Friday. He might not even be able to go Friday. He was injected in that area. The muscle wasn't torn. So, we'll just have to evaluate it as time goes on."

More on Champ Bailey
"Well, there's something about being hurt and injured. He's going to play if he's hurt. There's no question about it. But with the dislocation, it did surprise me that he was able to go. When you have a hamstring, there's not a whole lot that you can do. He'll get a feel for that later on in the week. Right now, it's just a guess."

On having players where microphones during a game
"Well, I think everybody has different opinions. I think now when you look back to some of the Super Bowl games with people being miked that fans would like get a feel for what goes through a player's mind during a game. In the heat of battle, some things are going to be said by the coaching staff or from players. What it is, is the heat of battle. That's just part of the game, and you have to live with those things."

On wide receiver Rod Smith's injury status
"I think Rod knows what he can do and can't do. Any time a guy has a concussion, I'm certainly not an expert in that area. There are a lot of people that are experts. They looked at Rod and said, ‘Hey Rod's able to go.' Obviously, we don't want to take any chance with Rod Smith if the doctors look at him and say, ‘Hey, we have some questions marks.' If we had some question marks, he would not be playing and would not be practicing. But they feel right now that he's allowed to practice so that's a good sign."

On the challenge of facing Jacksonville quarterback Byron Leftwich
"In the National Football League, there are a lot of excellent quarterbacks. You have a challenge each week. One week it might be the quarterback, wide receiver, running back. That's just the nature, and you have to be able to step up as a unit and play well. The last couple weeks, we've gone against some pretty good teams, and everybody has strengths and weaknesses. You have to step up, especially on the road."

More on quarterback Byron Leftwich
"Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. It seems like he is very heady. He has a lot of confidence. He's just getting better as time goes on."

On teams playing well
"To be honest with you, when you look back, you always want to get better. You're hoping that you improve each week. Sometimes if you start out with a great game, sometimes it takes a little pressure off you and you might lose a little focus and concentration. I think that's just human nature. What we try to do is just forget about what you've done in the past – either good or bad. We try to look at the things we did poorly from the game and the things we did good. We try to work on it during the week. I think if that mindset is there, then after a game is over with, you take a look at the things you did poorly and you try to improve upon those things. We have a chance to do something special. We are not a team that really gets too in depth with the opposition. It's mainly what we can do – how we practice and how we perform on game day. So hopefully with the short week, we can recover here with a good day of practice with a lot of reps, not a lot of hitting. Then tomorrow and Friday, we'll get back in our normal routine and take it over to Jacksonville and get it done."

On any concern about whether rookie cornerback Darrent Williams may get tired while playing a bigger role
"No, he's a young player. If he gets tired, we have Charlie Adams to come in (on returns). That's what happened during the game. If he gets tired, we have some other defensive backs in Domonique Foxworth; Lenny Walls can go in there. We have a little depth at that position. Hopefully Champ (Bailey) will be back and ready to go. If he's not, we still have a little depth even though these guys are young players. I think they proved in the preseason that they could play. When you do have a little depth when guys go down, a guy like Darrent Williams will get a break once in a while."

On whether big plays are expected out of cornerback Darrent Williams
"Well, to be honest with you, he didn't do a lot on special teams in college. He didn't have any kickoff returns, and he only had a handful of punts. On the punts we did see, we saw some excellent punt returns with the limited amount of punts that he had. More importantly, he intercepted the ball a bunch and took it the distance. You can see that he's a very tough kid, a very heady kid. That's one of the reasons why we drafted him. We thought he could come in right away with his toughness and help us out at nickel. Not only has he helped us there, but he's proven he can play on the outside as well. We're going to utilize him as much as we can without over-utilizing him to the point where he's not effective. That's where Charlie (Adams) comes in, and he did that during the game. He was a little disappointed when he dropped that one punt because he has been very good in practice. Hopefully that's out of the way. We were lucky enough to recover it so that was a plus."

On the strength of Jacksonville's defensive line with John Henderson and Marcus Stroud
"There's no question when you take the ninth pick in the first round and the 13th pick in the first round. One of the reasons why they are very good up front they have two guys that are obviously very talented, very productive. My goal is not to pick that low so hopefully we don't have that opportunity."



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