Coach's Corner - Mike Shanahan Part 1

Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan met with reporters today in his End of the Season press conference. Chedk out the full transcripts.

On former Assistant Head Coach/Defense Jim Bates
"First of all, I would like to mention that Bob Slowik will be our defensive coordinator and he will be calling the defenses. I talked to Bates and asked him if he would like to stay and be the linebacker coach, and he decided not to. I have some strong feelings toward Jim, and he has done a lot of good things in the National Football League. I thought as a defense overall we had to move in a different direction. The four previous years, we are in the top 10 (scoring defense), and we did a lot of good things on defense. When (former defensive coordinator) Larry (Coyer) was gone, it obviously had nothing to do with football. Larry Coyer was an excellent football coach, and I did make a decision to go in a different direction, but it was not based on football at all. So, this just didn't work out to what we had planned, and it comes back to me. Hopefully we can make some changes and we can get back on track."

On how the defense will improve in 2008
"Well, first of all you can't just go by the statistics of another team. You have to know how somebody coaches, and I know how instrumental (Defensive Coordinator) Bob (Slowik) has been since he has been here, relative with the input he had from (former defensive coordinator) Larry (Coyer). I will go back to (former defensive coordinator) Greg Robinson and he was here for six years. Before I made a change with Greg, we were 6-10, and after the change, we were 11-5. I told Greg going into that year that we are going to have to change what we are doing defensively. Greg didn't feel comfortable with the change, and so I made a change. I told him if we didn't play well on defense, I thought we would have to make a change. When (former defensive coordinator) Ray Rhodes came in for two years (2001-02), I felt very good about him and what he did here. Obviously, he had some health problems. We have a philosophy here on defense that I would like to get back to a little bit, and Bob (Slowik) knows that philosophy. So that's why I think he will do a great job."

On if the Broncos' defensive struggled in 2007 were due to the scheme or the players
"Well, going back to me, I am in charge of this thing. I just think if I were to have done a decent job coaching, we would have won 10 games or more. And so, it goes back to me. You have to make the decisions that you think are in the best interest for our football team, and sometimes it doesn't work out. My job is to take a look at everything and decide what is best for the organization. That's the bottom line. I just thought when you give up 100 yards a game on rush defense for a number of years since I have been here, there were a little philosophical differences."

On the defensive philosophy that will be brought back
"Well, just take a look at what we have done here for the last 12 years. We've had a certain philosophy. Sometimes you have to tweak that philosophy. It goes back to what we have done for the past 12 years. We got back to it after we couldn't stop the run this season, back to more of the eight-man fronts, but it was different coverages, assignments, but it just never came together. You don't go four years with a philosophy of giving up being in the top 10 defensively (scoring defense), and get away from it for as long as we did. Hopefully we will get a little bit better."

On allowing former Assistant Head Coach/Defense Jim Bates more range to coach his defense in 2007
"Well, I think I said that after the fourth game, when we were giving up 187 yards rushing a game, that we had to make a change. So, we went back to some of the eight-man concept, so I thought we had to make some adjustments. Again, it goes back to me. I gave Bates the freedom to run the defense that he would like, and it just didn't work out."

On some of the draft choices that haven't worked out for the Broncos
"I think obviously those weren't good drafts. And the free agency, that stands for itself. I think you have to average it out through the years. The bottom line is you have to look at wins and losses, and that is how you judge everybody. Sometimes it will be good drafts, sometimes it will be good free agency, but the bottom line is that you have to find a way to win. Obviously, we didn't do a very good job this year, but again, the bottom line is we were 7-9, how do we correct it? It's my job to make changes and to do the right thing. If you don't win, you deserve all the criticism that you get."

On WR Javon Walker
"Well, I'm not going to talk about the guys that we have who are up for possibly free agency or contracts for obvious reasons. We will talk with Javon and some guys like (RB) Travis Henry, (S) John Lynch and different guys who have question marks on where their career will go from here."

On evaluating the roster
"The same thing we do every year. We will find out which guys are most valuable to our football team. Some contracts we will redo, other contracts you decide if you are paying too much for what you're getting. We will try to come up with a plan going into free agency and the draft, and see who will give us the best chance to be successful."

On what will be done differently in 2008
"Well, the first thing you do is decide what areas you need to improve, what you have to do from a coaching standpoint and look at myself, the offensive staff, defensive staff and special teams and make adjustments there. We go back and look at the film from a couple weeks and evaluate personnel and schemes. After that is done, we develop a game plan. We will do what we have been doing here for the last 13 years."

On what will be done differently this offseason as compared to those of previous seasons
"It is always intense. Any time you have a season like we did, you are very disappointed, especially if you come in at least thinking of it being a 10-win season. You just have to look at different areas and make sure that it doesn't happen again."

On what changes will be done to the offensive coaching staff
"The only thing we are going to do is Joe Baker is going to come over from the linebacker position and take Jim Ryan's job (offensive assistant), and Jim Ryan is going to coach the linebackers. Other than that, we will look at some of the things we did right and go from there. I was really pleased with some of the things we did offensively. You look at your center (Tom Nalen), left guard (Ben Hamilton) and a guy like (WR) Brandon Marshall, who missed all of camp, a guy like (WR) Rod Smith who you think would kind of give you some depth, we had a stretch in there of five or six games where we were averaging well over 30 points per game. When you lose (WR) Brandon Stokley and (TE) Daniel Graham, you kind of go back down again. I saw us getting better and even though we didn't play as well as I would have liked us to, I think that there is a big future."

On figuring out a reason why there was a differential between yards gained and points scored
"Yes, you take a look at turnovers and time of possession. You take a look at the lengths of the drives, and it's not really hard to figure out why you don't have those points. There are a lot of factors involved."

On having the personnel to win 10+ games next season
"I think you always have the personnel to win 10-plus games. We have to get a little bit luckier than we did this year health wise. I think this was the most we have ever lost since I have been here. We lost 62 guys on offense. I think one year we lost 62 guys on the team. You take a look at a guy like (C Tom) Nalen, (G Ben) Hamilton, (WR) Rod Smith, (RB) Travis Henry and all of a sudden you have so many of these young guys play. I think it's good for us for the future because you have some guys who have gained some experience, and some of the guys you weren't sure about have stepped up. I'm hoping that helps us in the long run. It's not excuses; It's just the way it is in comparison to what we have done before."

On the gap between the Patriots and Colts and the rest of the NFL
"I think the gap is very big right now between the Patriots and Colts, and everybody else. You look at what the Patriots have been doing offensively and defensively, and what the Colts have been doing offensively and defensively… These are two teams who are obviously above the rest. Everybody is trying to catch up to those guys and with good reason. Both teams' defenses are in the top two or three in almost every statistical area. You take a look at their offense, and yes, it doesn't take a genius to figure that one out."

On the Chargers
"Well, number one San Diego is a team that has as talented personnel as anyone in the National Football League, especially on defense. If they put their best game together, they can beat both Indy and New England. They have been inconsistent this year and have played their best football in the latter half. Teams are going to have to play well to beat San Diego at this time."

On the offensive line being a concern going into the offseason
"Right now, (C) Tom Nalen believes he will be back. (G) Ben Hamilton is feeling the same way. (T) Matt Lepsis never came back this year. Matt Lepsis has had a great career here with the Denver Broncos. This was not a good year for Matt Lepsis, and he would tell you that he probably should have retired before this year started. We should have Nalen back full speed, and Hamilton, with the addition of some of the other guys who have played. (G Chris) Kuper and (C) Chris Myers, I feel good about them. Will (T) Ryan Harris step up? Kuper can play tackle. Does (T Erik) Pears keep getting better? That is part of the evaluation process over the next number of months."

On the defensive personnel
"Basically, it was the same personnel we have had for the past couple years. In the last four years, we were in the top 10 of points given up. This year, we were obviously way down. I thought the personnel were very similar to what we have had the last four years."

On LB D.J. Williams
"He did some good things for never playing that position (middle linebacker) before."

On if the turnover in personnel contributed to the record for the year
"First of all, we will take a look at the secondary, and that has stayed pretty much in tact. The linebacker position stayed pretty much in tact, and there was no change on the defensive line. I thought we improved ourselves on the defensive line. We probably have had more defensive players in here than we have ever before. We will have the chance to evaluate a lot of these guys. I think we have a young group coming up, and not that I don't think we need more depth, but I think we have a chance to get there. Relative to the offense, I think we have been through that with a number of players. There is some optimism there with the guys we have coming back, and the youth of our football team."

On his relationship with Pat Bowlen
"Pat has been great. He understands the time we put in and how we look at it, and that you are going to go through some tough times. He's a great owner. The reason I think he has had so much success is because he understands the big picture."

On if he feels pressure
"Nobody can put more heat on me than me. What kind of heat can I put on me? It's not financial; It's winning. That is how you last in this game, and if you don't, it gets pretty tough with the time we put in. You have to have thick skin and believe in what you are doing."

On Defensive Coordinator Bob Slowik
"Well number one I think he understands that offenses are very good. He is very flexible with his scheme, and depending on what a team is doing, he has the ability to attack that offense with his defensive plan. He's been here with me for a number of years, and he knows how I like to operate. There is one thing about this league and that is you go against some teams with strengths and weaknesses, and you still have to find a way to win. I don't care if you have a mismatch. What can you do to give you the best chance of winning?"

On G/C Chris Myers playing tackle
"He didn't play any tackle. Chris Myers is not a tackle, but he's a good football player that can play the center and guard positions. We've got some competition there like you mentioned, you never know what's going to happen with Ben (Hamilton). He could have one hit and he could be out. (C) Tom Nalen is usually a warrior after an injury—he comes back full speed, he's been working extremely hard. We'll do what we can do to get as much depth as we can at those positions. "

On T Erik Pears
"He's done a good job. He gives you everything he's got, I like the way he handles himself."

On WR Javon Walker coming back 100 percent from a knee injury
"I think you'd have to talk to (Broncos Head Athletic Trainer) Steve Antonopulos there. The doctors thought that after his surgery that it would take five to six weeks to get back full speed. There's talk of a microfracture (procedure) somewhere down the line. I don't know when that'll be, it could be two to three years from now, it could be four years, you just don't know."

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