Pleased with a 4-1 record but upset with how the offense has played this season, receiver Javon Walker expressed his frustration. Denver, which plays at Cleveland this week, has scored only five touchdowns in five games this season.
"We're happy to get the win but it's frustrating," Walker said. "I know I'm frustrated. I'm used to scoring points, I'm used to having a little more opportunities to put us in position to score, myself, Rod (Smith) and the other receivers."
Walker has been one of the few players on the Broncos offense that has been productive. He has 20 catches and 388 yards, and his 54-yard catch against Oakland last Sunday set up Denver's only touchdown.
That's not enough for Walker. He said he thinks he can help the Broncos score more points if he gets the ball more.
"I know the attitude I take towards the game, and when I'm out there playing I know sometimes I'm in the zone where I can make plays and I feel like if we take advantage of that, I think big things could happen," Walker said.
In a roundabout way, Walker insinuated the play-calling has been too conservative. He said after taking on Denver's defense, which has allowed one touchdown in five games, every day in practice the offense is ready to make plays in games.
"When you're already going against the best in practice it makes the game even easier, (which is) why I think we could attack more," Walker said. "That's just my opinion. I'm a competitor so I feel like anytime I'm out there and I can make a play, I feel like it will put us in position to score."
When asked directly if the play-calling isn't taking advantage of his abilities, Walker clammed up.
"I just work here," Walker said.
The Broncos have been more conservative than usual on offense, especially after a five-turnover game in an 18-10 loss at St. Louis in Week 1. Against Oakland, Denver took an early lead and didn't attack much after that. The Broncos had only 35 passing yards after the first quarter in a 13-3 win.
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he didn't mind Walker wanting the ball more. He said he has dealt with that issue many times in his career. He also didn't think Walker venting his frustrations was out of line, because he's also frustrated with the output of the offense.
"That's fine, Javon is as class a guy as you can ever be around," Shanahan said. "He wants the ball. Rod Smith wants the ball, but he handles it a different way."
Smith was asked after Sunday's game about his role in the offense and avoided taking a shot at the coaches, but he did say he wanted the ball and the coaches already knew that. Smith has only 136 yards receiving this year.
Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said the play-calling hasn't been a problem and hasn't hamstrung the offense. He said he had no plans to tell Shanahan to open up the offense.
"I'm not going to tell a guy -- Mike Shanahan's been a genius in this league on the offensive side and as a coach -- to tell him what to do," Plummer said. "As a team you have to stick together and that's what we're doing."
--This week's game will have plenty of players going against their former team. The Broncos raided Cleveland for defensive linemen each of the past two offseasons and those linemen -- Gerard Warren, Michael Myers, Kenard Lang and Ebenezer Ekuban -- will make up Denver's starting line this Sunday. Courtney Brown is on injured reserve.
Running back Reuben Droughns will play against Denver. He rushed for 1,000 yards for the Broncos in 2004, then was traded to Cleveland for Ekuban and Myers. Droughns rushed for 1,000 yards with the Browns last year.
"It's going to be fun," Droughns said. "I'm sure they're going to try to tee off on me, just like I'm going to try to tee off on them."
--Broncos end Ebenezer Ekuban, one of the former Browns linemen who will start against his former team on Sunday, said he and the rest of the group are looking forward to the matchup.
"It's exciting, man," Ekuban said. "Just to have the opportunity to go back to where a lot of us started our careers, specifically Gerard and Kenard and those guys, we're excited, man."
--Defending his play-calling, which has seemed more conservative than usual, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan referred to Javon Walker's 19.4 yards per catch average, which leads the AFC.
"Anybody who knows anything about football knows that if you have the leading receiver at least in the AFC in yards per attempt, you might be trying to throw the ball too much downfield," Shanahan said. "It goes back to execution. You don't average 20 yards a reception and be conservative."
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- The Broncos have won six straight games against the Browns, counting the postseason. They also had a 10-game winning streak against Cleveland, which went from 1975-88.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're frustrated as a group, but we're not mad and yelling at each other and cussing the coaches out. We all got to be in this thing together." -- QB Jake Plummer on the Broncos' offensive struggles.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
There has been a lot of concern in Denver about the state of the offense, and the Broncos will have to figure out how to score more points with the cast they have now. One way to get the offense back in rhythm is figure out a way to get the tight ends involved again.
Denver has always made good use of its tight ends, often with a second tight end creating mismatch problems in the passing game. Rookie Tony Scheffler hasn't flourished in the second tight end role. He has only two catches. He is being used in many spots on the field, which might actually be stunting his development by having to learn so much so soon.
Stephen Alexander was a good receiver early in his career but the Broncos like him because he is a tough blocker. He has only five catches but might get more involved in the passing game if another option doesn't develop.
--WR Brandon Marshall was supposed to make an impact as a rookie, but that hasn't happened yet. Marshall, who missed most of the preseason with a knee injury, doesn't have a catch yet. He could still be a factor before the end of the season.
--RT George Foster has been playing more consistently since a slow start to the season. Foster, a former first-round pick, has been Denver's starter for three seasons.
--LB Ian Gold is battling teammate Al Wilson to lead the Broncos in tackles. Each player has 38 through Denver's first five games. Both players are very good at anticipating the play and getting to the ball carrier.
--CB Domonique Foxworth has become a valuable special teams player for Denver. Foxworth is tied for the team lead with four special teams tackles. The Broncos like his ability at cornerback, but he is behind Champ Bailey and Darrent Williams, who are playing very well.
--DE Elvis Dumervil could be a big factor for the Broncos the rest
of the season. Tackles have a tough time locking up Dumervil because he
is only 5-11. His quickness off the edge makes him a dangerous pass
rusher. Dumervil had two sacks against Oakland.
Voice your opinion on our Broncos Hardcore Message Board