Coach's Corner Pt. 1 - Josh McDaniels 3/23/10

Denver Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels meets with reporters at Tuesday morning's AFC Coaches Breakfast in Orlando, Fla. - Check out the full transcripts.

On players not participating in voluntary offseason conditioning
"You'd love to have every one of your players there, but it's not a mandatory thing. There's nothing we can do about that. We hope our players want to be there. We hope we make it an environment in which they can improve and get better and grow with their teammates. But certainly that's a decision that they make. There's a lot that goes into those decisions -- the agent, the player, the people that advise him. We understand that. There are certainly players that have nothing to do with this process that are not at the facility on our team and other teams. We're certainly not unique. We're just one of 32. We know that it's a process that the entire league is going through and we're just going to try to do what we can with the players that are there. We know that ultimately, hopefully, they'll all be there."

On if he has spoken to ILB D.J. Williams
"He's in Miami right now, and we understand that. Our hope would be that all of our players would want to be there. That's the case with most of them, but sometimes there's a lot that goes into that and players decide to stay away."

On if the team started offseason conditioning earlier this year
"I don't believe we did. We started on the date that we could start the offseason program. There's a lot of ways to go about that, but we built in an off-week in May. Last year, I think we did the same thing around the same time. It's really we go seven straight weeks to try to build it up, then we took an off week, then we'll continue to finish the program with OTAs and then the last couple weeks. We're going to end the same time, too, which is at the end of June, and try to give the players a chance to rest and get away a little bit, clear their minds and then come back ready to go."

On if he changed any part of the offseason program
"Yes. We certainly have changed some of the things we're doing in the offseason program. That's not a negative to what we were doing. I think a lot of times there are cycles on things. Some of the things we're doing in the lifting program, the way we're going to train, we're going to train specifically to each group, which is not unusual. Our linemen are going to do some things that maybe they didn't do last year. Our skill players are going to do some things maybe they didn't do last year. We've definitely taken a look at changing up some of the things we're going to do with our OTAs in terms of foundation and scheme and those kind of things. Last year, it was a lot of throw it at them all, because nobody had really heard it our seen it or done it. This year, we think we're a lot more comfortable in terms of the knowledge that they have of the system, so we can focus on less and do it better. That's what we're going to try to do in OTAs and carry that over into training camp. Hopefully we have a strong foundation by the time we start the preseason."

On if he has any thoughts on the Broncos' struggles to close out the season in recent years
"I only know about the one (season), which is last year. I know that there are others that exist, but I can't really go back and figure out all the things that you'd need to figure out to use that. But we've definitely looked at some things, whether it be our training during the course of the season, our practices, the length of practice."

On holding longer practices
"There's a two-way street with that. Fridays we kind of backed off of our team as the season went on. I think there's an ebb and flow on that – there's a balance that you've got to try to reach. We're certainly going to look to try to do that so that we can play our best football as the season wears on. The bye week – which is going to be affected again this year by a trip to London – we've always started in terms of talking about how we're going to handle that, what we can try to do to help make it more efficient, more effective for us to go ahead and transfer into that last part of the season. There's a lot of things. I don't think it's one thing. If there was one thing, that would be too simple. We've got to play and coach better down the stretch, and we've got to finish the season better. We didn't really do that last year, and obviously that was a big part of our failure."

On if he has talked to other teams about traveling to London
"We've talked to a lot of people, actually. There's a lot of ways to do different things. I think there's no perfect way to do it. There's no easy way to do it. We're going to make our decisions about when we're going over pretty soon. (Assistant to Head Coach) Mark (Thewes) has been over there, (Vice President of Operations) Chip (Conway) has been over there, so we've had a lot of people already involved in this process. We tried to gather as much information from other clubs as we could from the league. We know the set-up over there, we feel comfortable with that. So the decision of when we're going to go over and all that, that's kind of last. Then just the whole trip details and everything like that. We feel like we're getting close on making those final arrangements, and hopefully once we do we can just put it into play."

On if he has spoken with Tampa Bay Head Coach Raheem Morris about their first seasons as head coaches in the NFL
"I spoke with Raheem last night, actually. It's the first year. That's what we were both talking about. I think you know a lot more now than you did last year at this time about the team that you have – about your players, about your staff, about the process that you want to go through, about some of the things that you did that you wouldn't do again and some of the things that you did that you definitely want to do again. Raheem, I know he went through some changes with his staff. We've obviously had some changes with our staff as well. I could tell in his voice that he feels more comfortable with what he's doing, with who is there around him, with what he knows about the team and everything else. We were laughing, too, because they were talking about the pension in one of the meetings yesterday, and we were looking at each other. There are some coaches that are closing in on that, and we have about 25 more years to go."

On some of the biggest lessons he will take out of his first season as a head coach
"I think you have to come in with a certain philosophy and a certain belief in what you think can win. That's what we tried to do in that first year. Certainly, everything didn't go perfectly, but I think that to put that out there and then be able to adjust it as you need to adjust it in order to fit your team – I know my team better. I know my players better – I know the way they're going to react. I know our staff better. Those are some things that I think will help us make the adjustments we need to make going forward a lot quicker, a lot easier than last year. I think sometimes you're afraid to be a little flexible in that first year because you're not as sure about who you're dealing with. I feel very comfortable with our staff and our players, and I just think it's going to be something where those adjustments come quicker, and hopefully are more successful."

On his second offseason
"I think it's just a totally different atmosphere. I'm more comfortable with our entire organization. I feel good about our players. I'm excited about the direction that we're going in. I really feel good about the process – (General Manger) Brian Xanders and his staff did a great job this year in the offseason really addressing some things that we could do to help our football team in terms of player additions and team-building. It's a comfortable feeling understanding that the process has already started, our coaches are already there, our weight staff is there working with our players and there's not nearly as much controversy swirling around Denver right now."

On what he felt the defense needed to address in the offseason
"We wanted to try to increase the competition at any spot. Certainly the defensive line that we had last year was very young and hadn't started a lot of games in terms of overall experience. We felt like if we could add some pieces there to give ourselves some experience, some people that had played maybe a little bit more, and then couple that with the group that we did play last year, because right now we feel like we've got great depth at the defensive line spot. We've got Ryan McBean, who started 14 games, he's 26 years old. (Ronald) Fields is 28, he started 16 games. We've got a lot of players – Marcus Thomas, same thing – so we've got a lot of 20-something-year-old players behind some veterans now that have some experience. We felt like we got worn down a little bit as the season wore on. That's not necessarily one player's fault, or another player, but we didn't feel like we had enough depth there. That's something we wanted to do. We want to play with more than three or four players in that defensive line rotation. The altitude certainly plays a factor in that. It's something we've tried to address. We felt like it was a position where we could address it in this year's free agency class, and with the guys we've added, hopefully we're going to be able to play six or seven deep in that defensive line."

On how much bigger the defensive line got
"I would say we added some size. (Justin) Bannan's 310, 315, Jamal Williams is 335. We brought back Le Kevin (Smith), who is 315. Jarvis (Green) isn't as big, but he's going to play on the right side, so we understand that there's going to be a balance there. With (Mario) Haggan, we have the flexibility to move Mario inside at Mike (linebacker), and he's every bit of 265 pounds at Mike linebacker. He played on the edge for us last year. We expect Robert Ayers to improve and play a bigger role in our defense this year. We could be a bigger front, there's no question about it. The only guy that weighs less than 250 is D.J. (Williams), and he's 245. That's something that we felt like we wanted to try to accomplish, something we felt like we could accomplish in free agency, and Brian and his staff did a great job of really pursuing those guys and getting those deals done."

On why he felt free agency was the place to address the D-line as opposed to the NFL Draft
"I don't think it means that we won't do anything in the draft. I think there are some good players in the draft. I think it's similar to last year, in that I know that there were a lot of questions about, ‘What about this spot, what about this spot?' And we seemed to focus more on the secondary. It was just something where we felt like we liked the people and the fit with those players on our team in this year's free agency. We didn't, obviously, go all over the place in terms of positions. We kind of stayed there – the biggest additions that we made were on the defensive line. Certainly no question that we would add a good player on the defensive front in the draft if that's what came up. But we'll do that at any position. I think there are a lot of ways to build your team. There are a lot of things that you can do. There are some players that are on our team that were younger and didn't play big roles last year that we anticipate improving through coaching and through their efforts in the offseason program. The free agency class was something we felt we could improve our team with, and then the draft, obviously, is going to be the last piece of that puzzle. Any way we can improve the competition at any spot, we were looking forward to doing it. It just seemed like that was a good fit for our football team."

On pursuing Jamal Williams in free agency
"There are some things that happen quicker than others. It was something where we got Jamal there, we had obviously watched all of his stuff from 2007, '08, and then the little that you could watch from '09, he certainly was playing at the same level. There weren't 16 games worth of evidence, but there was enough evidence there to say that this player hadn't declined significantly from '08 to '09, and then the injury had totally healed and he's ready to roll. We also felt like a player of his caliber probably benefited some from the rest that the rest of his body took. You didn't get that pounding for 16 games in '09 that most linemen take. We were excited about that. He came in in great shape. He weight 334, I think, on the visit, he looked great and he was in a great frame of mind. He's excited to be in Denver, and he's there right now, which says a lot about what his priorities are. He wants to get familiar with his teammates and coaches."

On if defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely was a selling point to get Williams to Denver
"I think any time you play for a coach that long and you really have a good relationship with him, I think that makes the process easier for the player. He obviously didn't have to come in and figure out in one day, do I like this guy or not? Do I feel good with this person or not? He knew that Wayne would be somebody that he would love to play for. We're excited about that, and hopefully he felt the same way about our entire defensive staff. I know he did."

On 3-4 nose tackles being given the franchise tag on several teams
"I just think that tells you how important that spot is to the 3-4 defense. I also think it talks to the caliber of those players. Those are all very good players – most of them elite in that regard. I just think that when you build and you're strong down the middle in that defense, and then you send everything back in to that player, it makes life difficult sometimes if you do a lot in there."

On the potential for a 2011 lockout being a distraction in the locker room
"I don't think that's something that we address. I think we're all aware of it, but again it's not something that's a Denver thing. Every team in the league is dealing with that, and I think that any time you start to talk about something like that, you can make it a lot bigger of a distraction than it really needs to be. We've got a job to do. We've got a lot of teams to compete with that are all doing an excellent job of trying to improve their football team, and that's what our focus is going to be on."

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