Broncos Update Insider - Friday, Dec. 9

For most of this season, the Denver Broncos defense has been among the best in the NFL. Against Kansas City last week, it sprung plenty of leaks.The primary problem was missed assignments, which has been rare for a defense that has a lot of veterans. Read more in today's edtion of "Broncos Update Insider" as well as notes, quotes and all the latest personnel updates.

For most of this season, the Denver Broncos defense has been among the best in the NFL. Against Kansas City last week, it sprung plenty of leaks.

The Broncos defense broke down physically and mentally. Denver allowed Chiefs running back Larry Johnson to run through tackles and Chiefs quarterback Trent Green found plenty of holes in the secondary created by missed assignments.

The Broncos face Baltimore this week unsure exactly how they faltered so badly against the Chiefs.

"It is a little surprising, because we haven't really had those kinds of problems this year," Bailey said.

The primary problem was missed assignments, which has been rare for a defense that has a lot of veterans. The most obvious mistake happened on a 41-yard touchdown by Dante Hall. Cornerback Champ Bailey was in a two-deep zone and he passed off Hall, but safety Nick Ferguson had crept up near the line of scrimmage. Hall was wide open and walked into the end zone.

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he wasn't particularly concerned about the number of mistakes, but Green was able to find them all.

"Trent Green did a good job, especially when his primary receiver is on the other side, realizing there is a bust," Shanahan said. "That's credit to Trent for picking up a big play."

There were other coverage breakdowns. Shanahan said there was a coverage error on a 25-yard touchdown by Tony Gonzalez and there was another failure on a 54-yard catch by Eddie Kennison.

"We've got to do a better job communicating," Shanahan said.

The Broncos were bothered by Kansas City's multiple formations and motion. Many times they were confused about coverage assignments because of Kansas City's pre-snap movement.

"Our coaches told us (Monday) that they should have made the game more simple, as far as our game plan," cornerback Darrent Williams said. "We adjusted too much and sometimes everybody wasn't getting the right adjustments. That's what they want you to do, that's why they do all that stuff, so you will make a mistake."

Denver had problems other than just missed assignments. Johnson had 90 of his 140 rushing yards in the fourth quarter against a defense that was ranked No. 1 against the run in the NFL.

"It's not surprising," Broncos defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban said. "When you miss tackles and don't wrap up, that's what's going to happen."

SERIES HISTORY: 5th meeting. The Baltimore Ravens are 3-1 against the Denver Broncos in the regular season and 1-0 in the playoffs. The Ravens lost the first meeting and then won the next four, including a 2000 wild-card playoff game.


--Broncos safety John Lynch, who has been fined by the NFL four times since 2001 for improper use of his helmet, was penalized 15 yards for delivering a helmet-to-helmet hit on Chiefs receiver Eddie Kennison. Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said he thought Lynch was called for the penalty because of his reputation.

"You better believe they know it's him," Bailey said. "It seemed like that's what happened. The guy looked at him and then threw the flag."

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan showed the media a freeze frame of a replay angle that showed Lynch hitting Kennison with his shoulder, not his helmet. The NFL hadn't announced on Wednesday if Lynch would be fined.

--The Broncos had to scramble a bit to adjust their practice plans on Wednesday. Single-digit temperatures swept through Colorado, and Broncos coach Mike Shanahan decided it would be best if the team practiced indoors. The Broncos don't have an indoor practice facility at their team's facilities, so they traveled about a mile from their facility to an indoor practice bubble they use sporadically.

"Sometimes when it gets too cold, you lose focus on what you're doing," Shanahan said. "Sometimes it's a little tough to concentrate and players and coaches get so many clothes on it's tough to move."

--Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer insisted Denver would not overlook Baltimore this week. The Ravens are 4-8 and 14-point underdogs to the Broncos.

"I don't think there's any letdown possible here," Coyer said. "If you do that you're in big trouble. To me, this is a kick up. This is big, against a good football team."

BY THE NUMBERS: 56 - The Ravens have outscored Denver by 56 points in the last four meetings, including playoffs. The last meeting was a 26-6 win by Baltimore in 2003.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We know that right now we are still in control and we have the ability to do what we wanted to do all year. We are in a position to take care of our own destiny, and it starts this week." - QB Jake Plummer.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL The Broncos don't have a lot of depth at wide receiver but that hasn't mattered much. When Denver matched an offer sheet for restricted free agent tight end Jeb Putzier and signed free agent tight end Stephen Alexander, they were confident those two could be used together in many packages.

The Broncos have used Putzier and Alexander together a lot this season. Putzier comes off the bench because Alexander is a better blocker and every-down tight end. But Putzier has been one of Jake Plummer's most reliable receivers. He has good speed and hands and can take a short pass and get downfield.

The Broncos rotate backups Charlie Adams and Todd Devoe at receiver and use some three-receiver sets. But Adams, Denver's third receiver, has caught only nine passes in Denver's last nine games.


--WR David Terrell hasn't been active all season for the Broncos. He was signed after being cut by the Patriots at the end of the preseason. Terrell has talent but he doesn't play special teams, so Todd Devoe has been active as Denver's fourth receiver.

--S Hamza Abdullah was active last week for the first time since signing with the Broncos earlier this season. Abdullah played special teams against Kansas City. He was active because linebacker Keith Burns was out with a knee injury.

--FB Cecil Sapp played a lot of offensive snaps against Kansas City. He split time with starter Kyle Johnson. Sapp was a college tailback who is getting used to playing fullback in the pros.

--DT Michael Myers wasn't a heralded acquisition by the Broncos in the off-season but he has been very solid. Myers has started every one of Denver's games and doesn't come off the field much. He is a good run-stuffing tackle.

--LB D.J. Williams has played more against running teams, and he should get plenty of playing time against Baltimore. Williams doesn't play in Denver's nickel defensive packages

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