Broncos Update Insider - 9/24

The Denver Broncos haven't been a 3-4 team under coach Mike Shanahan, not even for a few snaps here and there. But on Sunday, they used the look on a handful of plays in passing situations.

Denver ditched its 4-3 look to bring Jamie Winborn on the field as a fourth linebacker a few times. Winborn played well in the season opener at Oakland while filling in for Boss Bailey, who went back in the starting lineup when he returned from an ankle injury.

"It's something we threw in real quick, utilize all the guys we had," Winborn said.

Shanahan said he liked the options a 3-4 look gives in rushing the quarterback. Denver has not rushed the quarterback much this season with its front four, which is a reason the pass defense ranks 32nd in the NFL.

Shanahan didn't sound ready to overhaul the defense. The team didn't even use the look in the second half so it probably won't be a permanent solution, but another option for coordinator Bob Slowik to use.

"It was a good changeup for us," Shanahan said. "We have different game plans each week and we will throw in a little wrinkle here and there. We are not necessarily a straight 3-4 defense even though it appears to be. Everybody does things differently in passing situations and it was something that we worked on this week that I thought it looked pretty good."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos' pass rush is 32nd in the NFL after three weeks. They made an effort to improve against the run and have done so. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he thinks once some of the new scheme changes get ironed out, the pass defense will get better.

"We'll improve in that area because we're getting great effort from our players," Shanahan said.

--Shanahan is unlikely to change from the three-headed running back approach that he has used in the first three games. Selvin Young starts but rotates every five plays with Andre Hall. Michael Pittman has been effective near the goal line and in short-yardage situations. Denver has averaged 4.8 yards per carry so far this year.

"They all have a role and we're trying to keep these guys fresh," Shanahan said. "I believe in all the running backs we have."

--The Broncos are 3-0 for the first time since 2003. "I know it's better than 2-0," Shanahan said. "I can't tell you those percentages (of how many 3-0 teams make the playoffs), but it's sure nice to be 3-0. I think our guys are realistic: We have a ways to go. We've had a good start, we've made some strides, but we're from where we want to be."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
PLAYER NOTES

--FB/LB Spencer Larsen drew praise from coach Mike Shanahan for a huge hit on the opening kickoff of Sunday's game. Shanahan said it might have been the hardest special-teams hit he has seen in the NFL.

--LB Boss Bailey briefly left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, but on Monday said he was fine. He shouldn't miss any time.

--TE Tony Scheffler had four catches for 32 yards against New Orleans. The Broncos have some offensive packages for Scheffler and others for fellow backup tight end Nate Jackson, although Scheffler will likely get more playing time than Jackson going forward.

--DT Dewayne Robertson was a key to a goal-line stand at the end of the first half against the Saints. Robertson has been a big help to the Broncos' run defense, which is much improved from last year.

--LB D.J. Williams had 16 tackles against New Orleans. He is playing well since moving back to the weak side. His third-down tackle for loss against Saints running back Pierre Thomas in the fourth quarter, a play before Martin Gramatica missed a go-ahead field goal, was one of the biggest plays of the game.



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