Coach's Corner - Mike Shanahan

Mike Shanahan fielded questions about the teams' recent struggles during his media session on Monday - Check out the full transcripts in today's Coach's Corner.

Mike Shanahan

On rookie QB Jay Cutler's improvement since making his NFL debut against Seattle on Dec. 3
"I thought he played well, exceptionally well in that third quarter (at San Diego on Sunday). He made a couple of big plays, and that's what you are hoping for, for a guy to make some plays when there is nothing there, and I thought he did that a few times."

On why rookie TE Tony Scheffler has been so involved with the offense recently
"He has been practicing a little bit better, so it has given him a chance to play in games and it's a process. Tony has done some good things in the last couple of weeks, so it has given him the opportunity to play and he took advantage of it. A couple of good plays in that game, that one tipped pass (for a touchdown in the third quarter) that he had was obviously a great move there and when (QB) Jay (Cutler) rolled to the right and kind of hit him off to the end zone. He had a good play there as well, so it is nice to see him make those plays, especially for a young kid."

On if he thinks it is coincidence that TE Scheffler started playing well when QB Cutler moved up to the starting spot
"It is just coincidence."

On if he has studied the Wild Card playoff scenarios
"We have talked about this before, and we talk about it every year and the only time we really study it is the last week of the year. All you can do is try to control your own destiny and win some football games and give you a chance. There is so much speculation that is involved, and what we have to do is take care of business."

On CB Darrent Williams
"Any time you give up some plays, you have to look at yourself and all corners know that when they have their guy in man coverage that deep in the field they have to try to keep their man in front of them. They also understand that great corners will try to make a play and you can't give up the big play. Any time you get beat in stutter moves like Darrent did it, is a learning experience and hopefully he learned from it and he will keep plays in front of him. But you can't give up those big plays. When you do, you have to forget about it and go out there and compete, but there has got to be something in the back of your mind that tells you that I can't get behind you. If you get behind them in those big plays, it is the difference between winning and losing."

On what he thinks is the biggest difference from the first nine games of the season compared to the last four games
"I can't tell you exactly. It is a combination of a lot of things. You just have to regroup every week. You have got to play better and you have got to coach better. That is the bottom line, and you have to make plays as a group and the only way you win is you have a lot of guys going in the same direction, especially on the road. If you turn the football over or you don't do the little things the right way, obviously it catches up to you very quickly, especially against a good football team."

On if he feels that injuries have finally caught up to the defense
"We ignore these excuses. Bottom line is we have to coach better and we have to play better."

On if he feels the defense is getting enough pressure up front
"You always want more pressure. Any time you take a look at a defense, you always feel like you could have put more pressure on them. Obviously when they throw the ball that many times like they did and were successful…. A couple of times in the big start modes they didn't take a lot of time to be honest with you, but they executed better than we did, and like I said, ‘They coached better than we did.' So what you do is go back and look at the things you did poorly and improve that and hopefully get better."

On how he feels the offensive line played against the Chargers
"I thought that we did pretty good, especially going against a pass rush like that. When you get behind like we did, 28-3, they know you are going to throw the football when we get in shotgun formation. Especially with a couple of new guys in, I thought that we handled it pretty good."

On if he talked to QB Jay Cutler about getting rid of the football under pressure
"He knows he has to get rid of it. He knows the pressure defense and that you have to make your keys quick to throw the ball quick. When you do have some time, you have to come up with a big play here and there. I thought that he was able to do that. He wasn't perfect by any means, but he really held his poise throughout the game."

On if having four wide receivers in the offensive scheme was because of trailing in the game or because of Cutler's strengths
"We did it early for a number of reasons and for the pass rush that they have. If you sit there and take a three and five-step drop all of the time, you are going to get your quarterback killed with the type of pass rushers they have. It was by design, which I think you can see the first and second drive."

On the Broncos' running game
"You run the football like that (against San Diego), you'll lead the NFL every year. So you can't complain with the yards per carry, but when you get behind like that, obviously, you've got to go away from the game plan a little bit. I wish we could have run the football a little bit more, but when we did we were effective."

On whether Cutler's performance gives him confidence going forward
"I think it's given you a little confidence where you can actually see a guy step up and (do) the things you've been watching every day in practice. Sometimes it's hard to believe until a guy goes in the game, but you've been watching him through the camps. You've been watching him through the OTA days. The guy's been there in practice, so it shouldn't surprise people that he played at the level he played. It's always nice to see it on gameday, we all know, especially against a team that's got a pretty good pass rush. To come back in the third quarter showed a lot of poise."

On Cutler's poise
"He's further ahead than anybody I've ever been around. He's been a four-year starter in a throwing-type offense (at Vanderbilt). One of the reasons why he's in the position he's at is because we thought that he could handle the mental aspects. He could handle the pressure, he could handle the tough situations."

On T Adam Meadows' status
"I really don't know. At least according to Greek (Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos), he thinks he's going to be able to practice on Wednesday, so that's a good sign. Until you really test that hamstring, you don't know for sure."

On the play of the offensive tackles
"I'm not going to go through each position. What I will go through is that we've got to improve as a football team in order to win. Each position's got to get a little better. Like I said before, we've got to coach better. We've got to get a little better every play. If we do that, then we'll get a chance to do something down the stretch. If we don't, we'll be sitting home."

On whether he wants players to talk about possibly being a playoff team
"They're going to hear about it. People are going to bring it up. But I think our football team is smart enough to know the only thing that really matters is taking care of business against Arizona. Everything else is immaterial."

On who appears to be the team to beat
"It's really hard to say. There are a bunch of good football teams that we've played this year. I think who stays healthy and who's hot at the time the playoffs start… As we saw last year, anything can happen."

On whether he was shocked to see the defense allow 48 points
"I put a number of those points on me, going for it a couple times on fourth down. Obviously, I wish they would've had field goals and not touchdowns, but I felt we needed to do that to give ourselves a chance to win. I'm not going to play it close and look good. We wanted to have a chance to win the football game, and I felt it was necessary at the time. I don't always think the score is indicative of the game, but I think the bottom line is they scored touchdowns when they got down there, and that's a credit to them. We're playing some good red zone defense. We just aren't playing like we normally play."

On whether the defense has worn down as the season has progressed
"I don't know. They have to play better."

On whether he thinks the team peaked too early
"I like that problem. I like to peak. I'd like to peak the peak up there, though. I don't like the downward spiral. There's only one way to change it, and that's to find a way to win. We've had a couple opportunities. We let a couple games slip away that we had leads in, and (we) just can't do that. Hopefully next time we have one of those leads, we can keep it."

On what the defense needs to do down the stretch
"Everybody's got to play a little better. Everybody's got to look at their position, and everybody's got to pick up their level a little bit. If we do that, then we've got a chance to get better."

On losing four in a row
"It's not a good feeling. Any time you're in this business, you play to win. To go through a scenario like this is pretty tough, but this is a tough profession. What we've got to do is do something about it on a day-to-day basis. If you do that, then you've got a chance to change it."

On how to end a losing streak
"Just the team coming together and saying, ‘Hey, quit making mistakes, step up and do the things we need to do to find a way to win.' You've got to do it on the road, you've got to really play together. We've got a good challenge this week after Arizona just beat Seattle. We'll approach it day by day. You don't get it done just on gameday. You get it done today and, obviously, Wednesday. Our team has worked extremely hard this season. We've lost some close games, and hopefully over the next three games, we'll play our best football."

On whether he senses frustration in the team
"Oh, I think everybody's frustrated. If you're not frustrated when you lose four games, then you're in the wrong business."

On his impressions of Cardinals rookie QB Matt Leinart coming out of the draft
"I liked him – very poised, very talented. I liked the way he handled himself, liked the way he played."

On what he thought on Leinart in the preseason
"I liked him."



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