Coaches Corner 1/16/05

Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan addressed the media this afternoon from team headuarters at Dove Valley. Check out the full transcripts.

Mike Shanahan

On playing the AFC Championship Game at home
"I think it's always great to play at home. I mean, that's what you work for in the postseason, to try and get homefield advantage. We feel very fortunate to get a game back here. I know Pittsburgh is one heck of a football team, but obviously if you've got your druthers, you'd rather play at home."

On watching the Steelers-Colts playoff game
"That was a crazy game. It could have went either way. (There were) some big plays there at the end. It was amazing to me. You thought the game was over, and all of a sudden there was a fumble. It looks like he's going to go the distance, and (Steelers QB Ben) Roethlisberger now is a defensive back. One-handed tackle – it was a great job, great effort by the quarterback. "

On the way Pittsburgh has played on the road all season
"It's not all season. They've been that way for about the last five years. They've been very consistent. Take a look at what they've done as a team – wins and losses, defense, offense. They're a complete football team. There's a good reason why they went into Indy and beat Indy and really had a chance to dominate the game. A couple calls here and there, and they dominate that football game. They're very consistent over the last few years, and it's going to be a great challenge for our football team."

On going from little recognition to Super Bowl favorites
"I think we've been down that road before. It really doesn't matter what people say until you get to the playoffs, and once you get to the playoffs, it doesn't really count what you've done in the past, what you do during the playoffs. I think in our previous years, I think the first year was a good indication of that. You know, we were underdogs in every game, I believe, except Jacksonville. It's what you do on the field that counts. Our team understands what's at stake. I think it is kind of nice being under the radar, not being talked about all the time. But there's a challenge before us, and hopefully we get the job done."

On how much film he has watched on the Steelers prior to this week
"We really haven't studied Pittsburgh very much for obvious reasons – taking care of business getting ready for our game. We had a chance to look at them yesterday afternoon after the game was over, and obviously we stayed late last night. We're very impressed. They're a very, very good football team. When you only give up 3.4 yards per rushing attempt, which we talked about how impressive that is, and they've been doing that for a couple of years. Very, very consistent on offense. A lot of people don't think they throw the ball a whole lot, but when they do, they're very effective. They're second in the NFL on average per play passing the football. When they do throw it, they're very effective because of their very good running game."

On whether playing the Steelers is like playing themselves
"I think we have a lot of similarities in offense and defense and our approach to the game."

On why the Broncos flew under the radar this season
"Oh, I don't worry about that. That's not my job. My job is trying to get our football team ready and focus on the job at hand."

On whether there's added pressure being the favorites to win
"I think we have a very mature football team. Our team knows that you can't get caught up in what's going to happen next Sunday. You've got to take things day by day. If you worry about today, then you have a chance to be successful on Sunday. I think we have enough veteran leadership that they understand exactly what needs to be done. They guide the younger players, who might get caught up sometimes in a playoff atmosphere, on what's the little things you need to do to be successful."

On the importance of fullbacks blocking Pittsburgh's 3-4 scheme
"Well, it's not just fullbacks. It's everybody protecting. They do a great job keeping an offense off-balance. You never know what linebackers are coming, what safeties are coming. I think everybody saw that yesterday. Peyton Manning, one of the sharpest guys in the business, they were coming from all over and put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. They've been doing that very consistently for years. That's one of the reasons why they're one of the top sack teams. They've got a great scheme. The players play extremely hard. That's why they're in the championship game."

On what Champ Bailey and John Lynch have meant to the secondary this season
"I'll start off with Champ. You know, Champ is a guy that is very well prepared. He prepares like he's a young player. He studies the game. He's got a sense of urgency about him. He's very sharp. When he practices, he practices full speed. There's a lot of people that aren't in Super Bowls that really don't practice at a very high level. He's a guy that practices like he's trying to make the team each and every day, and so it's a good example to the young players. John Lynch is very much the same way. John is a very smart football player. He's been playing quite a long time. He understands the safety position. He prepares a lot like Champ. They prepare the same way, where they try leave no stone unturned in their preparation. He's the same way in practice. He practices exactly the way he's going to play. When you have leadership like that in the secondary, it really carries over to the younger players."

On whether Lynch's performance is what they expected when the Broncos signed him from Tampa Bay
"I can't speak for Tampa because people deal with the salary cap all the time. There's a lot of times you'd love to have a player and he's making too much money, and you have depth at that position. But I'm sure glad we've got John Lynch on our football team. He's a consummate pro. You just love the way he handles himself, not only on the football field but in the community. He's one of the big reasons for where we're at right now."

On Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher
"I've always been good friends with Bill, going back to the days when I interviewed out there for the coordinator job. I almost went out there. It was between Pittsburgh and San Francisco. I just have a lot of admiration for what he's done and how he handles himself. He's a man's man, and I just like the way his football teams play."

On how impressive Ben Roethlisberger's first two seasons have been
"I got a little chance to spend some time with Ben over in Tahoe this year. When I looked at Ben, I thought he was a linebacker, not a quarterback. I mean, he is a big guy. You could see very quickly just talking to him what type of leadership skills he has, how sharp he is, what a competitor he is. He is what you're looking for at the quarterback position."

On whether people realize how difficult it is to have success at quarterback early in a career
"It's tough. It's tough for any quarterback to come into this league and have success. But like you mentioned, he's done an excellent job of learning the system, eliminating mistakes. He's very smart, very aware. He can make all of the throws, and I think everybody can see how competitive he is."

On what Mike Anderson has meant to the team
"Mike, his rookie year, had a heck of a year for us. He had 1,500 yards, or thereabouts, and over five yards a carry. He's been hampered with injuries and went to the fullback position when Clinton (Portis) was here. We still liked Mike. We liked Mike when we put Clinton at tailback, but Clinton had some qualities that we couldn't pass up. Then we did put Mike there. He was going to be our starter, and then he went through that injury. But Mike's a guy that works. He's a student of the game. He did everything he could working through his injury to come back and have the type of year he's having. He's one of those guys that we feel very good about when he plays because he gives it everything he has."

On the difficulties of facing the 3-4 defense
"Well, it's not the 3-4 defense that makes it tough to run against. It's the people that are on the 3-4 defense. When you get a good front seven, like Pittsburgh has and how they play, it can keep you off balance because they're very quick and very talented. Now, on the pass protection, it's a little bit different because you're not sure which linebacker is coming and which safety is coming. So they can confuse a lot of people, which they have through the years. One of the reasons why they've had the sack total that they have had, besides having an excellent football team that's very talented, they keep people off balance which guys are coming. That's one of the reasons why they had so much success this weekend."

On Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu
"Well number one, he's very talented. He's got a lot of speed. He's a very savvy player. He plays sideline to sideline. They use him in a role where they utilize his talents. He could be on another team and still look good, but they really utilize him to his potential. That's one of the ingredients you're looking for with a great defense is a coach who knows to utilize their players, and coaches utilize him to the utmost.

On why more teams don't use the 3-4 defense
"You know, we used to talk about that a long time ago when we first came into the league. Nobody used the 3-4. There were a bunch of college coaches that used it, and they said it would never work in the NFL. Through the years, more teams have used it. It wouldn't surprise me if more teams are going to use it next year because of the success that a number of these teams have had to keep offenses off balance."

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