Coach's Corner - Mike Shanahan 11/13/06

Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan discusses the injury situation, Jake Plummer's three interceptions and the effects of shuffling his lineup - check out the full transcripts.

Mike Shanahan

On QB Jake Plummer's three interceptions against Oakland
"Well sometimes it looks that way. Any time that you throw an interception, not everybody knows what is involved. Sometimes it is protection, sometimes it is routes and sometimes it is a combination of all the things that go into it. The thing we have to get better as an offense is we have to control that football. We can't turn it over, especially on the road. We did that and we still found a way to win. We made some plays in the fourth quarter when we had to and I was proud of our football team when we had to dig down and make some plays we were able to make some plays."

On if he thinks that winning ugly is a sign of a great football team
"I tell you one thing, we have had a lot of stats a lot of the times that we have lost and had a lot of points and a lot of yardage but there is nothing like winning. You have got to find a way to win. We didn't play very well in offense or special teams and we still found a way to get it done and that is sign of some character and a good football team."

On if he has an explanation for why most of QB Jake Plummer's interceptions have occurred on the road
"Yeah, he just throws a lot of interceptions on the road. No, I am not sure why. I just hope that he continues that and doesn't do it at home."

On if he has an update on the status of LB Ian Gold, DE Patrick Chukwurah and DE Ebenezer Ekuban
"I really do not know yet. We will have to take a look and see what they can do on Wednesday and see if they made any strides. Right now they are getting treatment like they always do, but we just have to wait and see."

On if he feels that Sunday's game in Oakland was a psychological letdown in any way
"I really don't think so. I think that our backups are guys that were asked to start, and they played extremely well. Defensively, we played exceptionally well in the second half. I thought that we made some plays when we had to make them and any time you take a look at this league, you know you are not going to play perfect every week. You are going to have some games that you play well and some games that you play poorly but you have to find a way to win those games. Was this an ugly one? Sure, I love ugly ones as long as you win. As we just talked about a second ago, I am very proud of our football team and the way we fought in the fourth quarter. We overcame a lot of adversity and got it done."

On why he de-activated rookie TE Tony Scheffler for Sunday's game against Oakland
"Well we have talked about this before. Most people brought it up with the quarterback position but it is all positions. We are going to evaluate guys on a day-by-day basis. How they do in practice, how they do in games and sometimes practice ways as heavy as game day. Part of the decisions that we make during the season are based on all of those ingredients."

On if he feels that TE Scheffler is progressing
"Yes. I have told you what I have thought of Scheffler. He probably has Pro Bowl ability. He is a rookie so there is a learning curve there. Sometimes you can dress four tight ends, and other times we can dress three tight-ends depending on what the game plan is. But we had four tight ends and Tony didn't dress. We made a decision this week that with the way Nate (Jackson) practiced that we would give him the opportunity to show us what he could do based on practice and what he has done and he really stepped up and played well."

On if his frustration on offense has led to his roster changes this past week
"No, I am not frustrated with the offense. I think it is based on what we have talked about before. We have got some guys that are very close at certain positions. I think with the running back position I am disappointed with myself for playing Tatum (Bell) so much as I did. Even though he says he's healthy, I don't think he is as healthy as he says he is. I saw that in a game. So as a coach you have to go on your gut and you can't just go on who's the starter, who's been the starter. You have to go based on how a guy practices and for what you think is best for the football team. I thought that brining Damien Nash up, I wanted to see what he could do because he has looked good in practice. He did play in the preseason game and he looked very good, and I thought we needed a guy that was healthy, a guy that was kind of biting at the bit a little bit to get his opportunity and kind of see what he could do during the second half of the season. So we will do things like that throughout the season and sometimes when you have competition at certain positions you do not know where it is going to occur but chances are it will occur."

On if he was sending a message to the team how anyone can be replaced
"I think our guys know that. They see a right tackle that goes to second tackle and then comes up based on how he practices and maybe a guy doesn't play as well as we think he is capable of playing in a certain game. Not that we don't believe in that player, but we think that competition is the best thing for a guy to get the best out of people. You have got to compete in practice and compete on game day if you want a chance to get better."

On if he is dissatisfied at where the Broncos stand with the running back position going into their 10th game of the season
"When you are dissatisfied with the group that means you are not very productive with the group. We are one of the top five rushing football teams in the National Football League, so we are very good with our rushing offense. Does that mean that we can't get better? No. We have got some competition there and that may be one of the reasons that we are in the top five."

On if he would prefer to be settled on one running back then sharing the carries with a few
"Sure, you would love to have one guy but that doesn't mean that that is the best thing for your football team. If you do what the best thing for your football team is then I think that we have got a number of running backs who are very capable and very talented and that may change week by week. A lot of that has to do with injury, a lot of that has to do with what a guy does in practice based on a guy being out or sore for two or three weeks. There are so many factors that go in to it; it is just not who do we feel good about that week but who is healthy and who practices well."

On RB Damien Nash's fumble during Sunday's game
"Those things happen I was just very happy that he was able to recover it. It did help his cause."

On what he likes about RB Nash
"Well I think the only time that you saw him live was the Tennessee game (preseason) and I think he played quite well. He had a number of good runs, some illusiveness, some speed, and some power. He didn't get a lot of action (against Oakland), but those four carries that he had were pretty impressive."

On what he can do with RB Tatum Bell to get him healthy
"I really don't know. We are just going to have to wait and see. Sometimes it is rest, sometimes its treatment, sometimes a combination of both. We will evaluate it as time goes on."

On if he thinks that rookie RB Mike Bell took a step backward in the Pittsburgh game
"I have got a lot of confidence in Mike Bell, but Mike Bell had a couple runs that he might have been able to get more yardage on in the Pittsburgh game but I say that about every running back every game. So I have a lot of confidence in Mike, he is a young player and he will play a lot for us before the season is over."

On if RB Tatum Bell is still the starter at tailback

On RB Mike Bell and TE Tony Scheffler progressing during their rookie year
"Yeah rookies…Iit takes some time to feel comfortable with the system and kind of feel comfortable with yourself. It is a long season, but like I said I have confidence it both guys and both guys we are counting making some plays before the season is over with and hopefully it is this weekend."

On how T Adam Meadows played
"He played pretty good. We had a couple of silent counts where he jumped offsides a couple of times. It's something you don't really get a chance to work on unless it's a situation like we had. Besides that, he played pretty good."

On whether WR Javon Walker was being double-teamed
"Sometimes it was double teams, sometimes it was pressure to the quarterback – a combination of things. We're going to try to get the ball to our best players. I think you guys have been around me long enough to know that. We're going to try to do the things that give us the best chance to win. Obviously, the more times we can get the ball in his hands, the better off we are."

On how to stop Chargers RB Ladainian Tomlinson
"If I did have the answer for that, I wouldn't share it with you. He's a great running back, arguably the best back in the league. It's a great challenge for our football team to go against a guy that is that good consistently. Any time a team scores 42 points in a half, that's kind of unheard of, pretty impressive."

On whether he was disappointed in the offense's performance at Oakland
"Yeah, very disappointed. Any time you move the ball like we did and commit as many turnovers as we did, very seldom do you win on the road. So yeah, I was disappointed in a lot of different areas. But, like I said, when we had to make the plays and everything was on the line, we seemed to step up and make those plays. To win consistently and to play at the level that we know it's going to take to be one of the top teams, we've got to play much better than we did."

On FB Kyle Johnson's fourth-down touchdown catch
"It was a lot of people doing the right thing. It was a great sell with one of our base runs. Kyle not only made the catch, Jake made a great throw. Everybody executed very well. It was a full-out blitz. You're hoping that these guys are going to make those plays, but it didn't surprise me."

On what's causing problems in the running game
"A little bit of everything. Any time one phase is not working like it normally does – pass offense or rushing offense – it's a combination of a lot of things."

On what he's noticed that tells him Tatum Bell isn't fully recovered "As a running back, you can see what a guy can do and what a guy does consistently over a couple years' time. When a guy can't do that, you know he's hurting a little bit more than he's letting on." On whether he's considered giving RB Cecil Sapp carries at Oakland
"Cecil's our third back going into any game. He's a fullback, but he can play tailback. You go into a game like Tatum (did Sunday), he could be hurt, could go down on the first or second play. Whoever your second back is, he's in there. Cecil is a guy you could put in there very quickly and be very productive because he's got some great running skills."

On whether Johnson's health factors into the use of Sapp
"No, Kyle's fine. A week ago, that was true. When we played at Pittsburgh, one of the reasons we went with three backs was because Kyle could not push off to block (Joey) Porter and some of those linebackers over there. It's a total mismatch. A lot of times, it's a total mismatch if the guy's healthy with that type of size and speed. But Kyle felt very good coming into this game, and when he did play (he) played well."

On facing questions about the offense while winning
"I don't think we've ever won – at least since I've been here – with the offense not being real productive. It's always been offense, and the defense there's always been questions about. So it's a little bit different. We beat Pittsburgh and gave up 500 yards, and everybody's talking about how good the offense is, which is great. But that doesn't make you feel good as a coach when you give up 500 yards, even though we had six turnovers. Sometimes you're going to play some great games, and sometimes you're going to play some poor games. The bottom line is you've got to find a way to win. ‘Winning ugly' is a phrase that's been used quite often. If you can find a way to do that, it's still special."

On whether the offense is the most up and down he's had here
"I think you go back and look at the stats. We aren't always as productive as we'd like to be, but this is not the end of the season. We want to play our best football in the second half. We've still got a bunch of games to go, and we've got a lot of talent. We've got to have some guys that'll pick up their game if we're going to get to where we need to get, and we'll go through and do it."

On whether execution or talent is the biggest issue
"Execution, guys bringing up their game. Any time you lose a tackle, you've got a guy like Erik Pears. He's got to play better. He's capable of playing. The rest of our guys have got to pick their game up. You've got some injuries here and there. You've got to pick up your game."

On whether he is concerned with two new tackles playing
"We've got one new tackle in there, really. The other one, we made by choice. I'm not saying I'm giving up on George Foster because George Foster is one of the most talented players I've been around. We've just got to get him playing a little bit higher level. If he does that, then he'll be right in the mix again. We'll evaluate that on a day-to-day basis based on practice."

On Foster being perplexed about not starting
"I sit down with everybody before I make any of these decisions. We sit down, and we have a lengthy conversation. Usually, after that conversation people feel at least that they know where I'm coming from. They may not agree with it, but they know where I'm coming from and they know what I expect."

On whether the decision to hold out Foster and RB Mike Bell was based on practice or games
"I'm not going into detail. I'm just telling you that we're going to play the best players. It's based on practice. It's based on game day. It's something that stays in the confines, obviously, of our meeting rooms. When we do make a decision on who's going to start and who's second team, it's based on practice, it's based on game day and (it's based on) what we think is in the best interest of the team."

On new injuries
"Stephen Alexander has a sore wrist. He came out a few plays during the game. Other than that, some minor bumps and bruises. I don't think any of them will keep anybody out."

On whether he talked to Al Davis in Oakland
"No, I did not. I was really disappointed he didn't stop by and say hello to me before the game started, but maybe next time."

On whether the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Oakland was merited
"No question. It's not even close. The guy's out of bounds and ran at least 10 yards down the sideline. It was a blatant penalty. It was like somebody tackling somebody rushing the passer. It's part of the game."

On whether he was surprised to see that penalty called
"No, it happens all the time. You can't do it. The reason why you don't see it is because guys don't do it. When they do it, they get a penalty."

On facing the Chargers
"It's a great game. San Diego's playing exceptionally well on offense, defense and special teams. They're playing as well as anybody in the National Football League, so it's a great challenge for our team. Take a look where they're ranked offensively, defensively and special teams. You can't get much higher than that, collectively. They're playing exceptionally well."

On whether he had sensed that San Diego would be this good
"Obviously, anybody who had any questions about the quarterback position, they don't have them anymore. He's playing as good as you can play."

On how San Diego leads the league in scoring given Marty Schottenheimer's reputation as a conservative coach
"Good question. Good question. I never thought he was conservative. He just wins games."

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