Coaches Corner - Mike Shanahan's Wrap Up

Mike Shanahan met with the media on Tuesday closing out the final press conference for the 2005 season. Check out Part 1 in today's edition of Coaches Corner.


On whether the season was a success
"We've talked about this quite a few times. There's only one team that is happy at the end of the season. and that's the team that wins the Super Bowl. You look back at the season, obviously there were some good things. We had a good record. We fell short of our goal. I feel very proud of our football team. I thought we had guys that played extremely hard throughout the whole year. I like the character of our team. It was fun to coach our team from the beginning of the year to the end of the year because of the type of people we had. It was a fun year for me coaching this team because of the things I just mentioned."

On how close he feels this team is after saying at the end of the 2004 season that the team was one step away
"I'm not exactly sure of what I said. I was in denial at that time. We had just gotten beat pretty good. I read the quote the next day and thought I might be pushing it a little bit, but on the serious side, you just keep doing everything we can to improve our football team. We fell short of our goal. You just go back through free agency, start working the college draft. You just try to improve your football team. Each year, you lose about a third of your team, so it is pretty, pretty tough. With free agency being the way that it is, we'll do everything we can to keep our players intact. Hopefully we'll be able to do that and get a little help through free agency and the draft we'll get better."

On his feeling of the depth of the team
"Like I said, the team changes every year. So what you're going to do is do the best you can possibly do to put that best football team together. We have a great organization, one that gives us a chance to do things. We have some high expectations as well as the whole organization. We're going to keep on working to improve so if we get that same shot again, we'll take advantage of it."

On where the team is in relation to the salary cap
"Pretty typical. A lot of times when you take a look at that cap, you look at teams being over or under. There are a lot of contracts in there that aren't realistic contracts. It's not like we have a lot. We can do some things to improve our football team. We have a full draft with some possible compensatory picks. We'll have to wait and see."

On where he feels the team is weak
"What we're doing now, to give you an idea of what we do as a staff. We go back and rank our players on offense, defense and special teams. Our defensive staff will look at our offensive players, our offensive staff will look at our defensive players then we come together and talk about the strength and weaknesses from a different perspective. Then, we do that so when we do get into free agency and if we do lose a guy, you can at least have a plan to go in a different direction so we don't lose those guys if we want them. But if you do, you have to list your priorities in what direction and how much money you have and get a game plan."

On whether the hangover from the game 48 hours ago is still lingering
"The hangover will last for a long time any time you have an opportunity to play in a championship game. If you don't take advantage of it, it hurts. This is the fourth time I've been in this situation, where I've been in the championship game and lost. Twice as an assistant coach in San Francisco, once as an assistant coach here and once as the head coach. It's tough. I don't care what part of an organization you're with, you work your rear end off to get to this point and if you don't take advantage of it, it hurts. I've been to the Super Bowl and I've been fortunate enough to be with three winners, but I've also been with three losers and that's tough as well. There's only one team that's really happy. That's why it is so special."

On how close he feels this team is to winning a Super Bowl
"Like I just shared with you, I felt so good about this football team, the character. Take a look at what we did offensively, defensively and on special teams, we did some pretty amazing things this year collectively. But you're still always working to improve and we fell short of our goal. We have the nucleus of a heck of a football team. I'd like keep that intact and try to improve in the areas that we can improve on."

On whether he would consider using the 3-4 defense
"There's a lot of different philosophies. We used a lot of the 3-4 during our Super Bowl years, but we used it in nickel situations. Like you said, a lot has to do with your personnel. A lot has to do with your philosophy relative to the coaching staff. I think you'll see more teams use some of the 3-4. They'd better have some pretty good personnel. They had five Pro Bowl players on Pittsburgh. People forget, it's not just the scheme all the time. It's also the people playing. I think a lot of people will be going to it because Pittsburgh had success, usually when teams have success, other teams go in that direction."

On whether he would use the 3-4 as a base defense
"Not as a base. Not with the type of personnel, but we could use more of the 3-4 than we have in the past."

On whether the team blitzed too much
"The blitz really worked well for us this year. People thought we blitzed a lot this last game, which we didn't, probably less than we did all year. When you're 8-for-9 in the third-down area, we had our opportunities. Third-and-8 for a touchdown, third-and-8 for a touchdown, second-and-17 for a touchdown… If we turned them into field goals, which normally we do, that's 12 points and all of a sudden we have a game that doesn't make us deviate from our game plan. We need to get better in that third-down area or we're not going to win a playoff game."

On whether he feels his front four could get enough pressure without blitzing
"You're always trying to upgrade. You're always trying to get pressure. Some times when you are getting pressure on the blitz, those defensive linemen are giving themselves up to free up other positions. Some times the sacks aren't a reflection of the pass rush. I think our situation was indicative of that this year."

On whether he expects to re-sign T Matt Lepsis
"I'm hoping we re-sign him. I talked to Matt, and we'd sure like to have him back. He'd like to be here. Hopefully we're in the ballpark financially. If he wasn't back, I'd be disappointed."

On his feelings of losing Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak, who is expected to be named the Texans' head coach
"It's always tough to lose a great friend. I've been with Gary for 20 years. If you take a look at his years playing and years we spent together coaching. I'm excited for him. He's a great person and a great coach. I think he'll do a fantastic job. Even though it is tough to lose a good friend and a guy who is very productive, I am very excited for him and his family. I'm excited for the organization because I think they're getting a great guy."

On how many coaches he expects to lose to Gary Kubiak's coaching staff
"We'll talk about that after it happens. I'd like to let them announce it. I don't want to talk about it here. I'll talk about it after they announce it. We'll talk about it in a little more detail after they announce it. We'll talk about it at the Pro Bowl… Hopefully, you're going."

On his timeline to name a new offensive coordinator
"I'm not really sure. It could be quick. It could be a little bit later. I have a few different directions to go. I'm not really sure right now. I'm going to let a little time go by and find out what my options are."

On what qualifications he's looking for in a new offensive coordinator
"Same qualifications you look for in assistant coaches. You want a guy that promises he's going to score touchdowns every time he makes a call. Hopefully we'll get that guy."

On why he didn't use the hurry-up offense with six minutes remaining in the Pittsburgh game
"We weren't in a hurry. Ten points is not a lot of points to make up. What you want to do is get first downs. Some times to get going, you might put in two plays in a row. We had third-and-3 and we had a holding penalty which put us in fourth-and-10. We were going for some big plays, but it just didn't work out. You can go down the field in a minute, but you want to make sure – against a team like that – that you move the football. Obviously, it didn't turn out, we went four plays and out. We couldn't move it. That wasn't in the thought process in my mind to be honest with you."

On whether he considered punting on that fourth down with five minutes remaining
"There's always a thought. You have five minutes and two seconds left on the clock, that's not a lot of time against a team that does a great job of running the football and controlling the clock. If I had not gone for it on fourth down, I would have been haunted by that decision the rest of my life. Could we have made it if we had gone for it on fourth down to win the game instead of giving them an opportunity to run three plays and get the ball back with two minutes left."

On whether he is looking forward to going to Hawaii to coach the AFC team in the Pro Bowl
"To be honest with you, it's always fun for me to be around great players. To see the way they handle themselves, to get a chance to get to know them a little bit more. If I'm going to go on vacation to Hawaii, I sure would rather go on vacation as a family and not work. That's what I'd consider a vacation. I am looking forward to being with these guys who have played so well and get a chance to know them. You can follow their careers, but you don't get a chance to be around them a whole lot. That will be fun. At the same time, you get to go to a place like Hawaii which will be nice for the family to enjoy their time."

On whether there is a benefit coaching in the Pro Bowl to help recruit free agents
"There could be. There could be down the road. Any time you develop a relationship with somebody, you get the chance to know them and all of a sudden when a guy is a free agent, you feel like you know him a little bit better. Same thing for coaching the Senior Bowl and getting a chance to evaluate some of those college players. When you're actually coaching them, you get a chance to see what they're made of. I think it's a big advantage for those teams down at the Senior Bowl right now."

On whether the Broncos' salary cap room will allow the team to pursue free agents from other teams
"Well, the first thing -- as you mentioned -- is we'd like to sign the players that have played very well for us. Hopefully we can get that done. If not, then obviously we have to have an alternative plan. We're going to constantly be trying to improve our football team and to answer your question, I can't tell you for sure because I'm not exactly sure how much money we will have, but we do have a lot of draft choices -- I think we'll have a couple of compensatories in there and there's always a chance to pick up a guy here and there, and hopefully, we'll improve."

On how many selections the Broncos have in the 2006 NFL Draft
"Well, we've got an extra first and an extra fourth, I believe. I'm not really sure at this time."

On where the extra draft choices came from
"Yeah, with the trade last year with Washington, we got a couple of draft choices there."

On whether he values two picks in the 20s the same as a higher draft pick
"That's a good question. If you did move up to get the 10th pick, would somebody do it for two number ones? Maybe. Maybe you get a number eight or nine, maybe not, depending on who's there. A lot of juniors have come out this year, so it should be a pretty deep draft."

On the value of higher draft picks
"Well, it's hard to get a top 10 or 12 pick. Those are worth a lot. For us to go from 24 to 17 (in 2004), it cost us a lot, so to move -- I think we've seen in the draft, someone who moves two picks gives up a number two or a late number one to go two spots in the early picks. You're really not sure exactly how someone values those picks. Everyone's a little different in their philosophy."

On whether he feels this draft is important to improve the team
"That's what you're trying to do -- trying to get better. I think everybody has an idea of what we did offensively, defensively and on special teams. I think everybody knows some of our strengths and some of our weaknesses. You're always trying to work on your weaknesses and improve, and if we do that, then given the same opportunity, hopefully we get back."

On whether he would prefer a franchise back or a two-back system
"I think everybody would like a franchise-type back. That's -- that would be nice to have a guy that you could give the ball 30 times a game to, but those guys aren't always out there. You pick them, usually you're picking them for the next coaching staff."

Click here to read more of coach Mike Shanahan's comments.



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