Monday, September 29, 2008

Denver vs. Kansas City: Post Game Quotes


On today’s game: “We talked about the keys to the game. Obviously the first one is you can’t turn the football over. Kansas City has an unbelievable home record when they win the turnover battle, and they won it by three today. Credit that to them. They ran the football exceptionally well. You’ve got to be able to stop the run and you’ve got to be able to run the football. Kansas City made a couple plays on special teams right there in the clutch; a big kickoff return to give them field position. Now we go back, obviously a tough loss. We had our opportunities during the game, credit to Kansas City for fighting like they did and finding a way to win. We’re obviously disappointed, but now we go back and get ready for the next game.”

On the status of WR Clifford Russell: “I really don’t know. I don’t know how he is. I know he was numb on his right side. Had feeling in his toes, and that was it. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”


On if he was pressing today: “I don’t know. You know, you can’t have four turnovers offensively and score a lot of points. You know, one for four in the Red Zone, It’s hard to win ball games that way.”

On if Denver needed to run the football better today: “You know, we don’t know. We had the turnovers, we got in the hole a little bit, you know, we had to start throwing the ball around a little bit. So we should have played better in the first half.”

On what this loss means: “We’re 3-1. There’s a lot of football left. We’re still a good football team. We can’t go into a panic here. We’re going to go back and look at it and get ready for Tampa.


On being prepared for the game: “You always think you are doing enough. I’ve been around this game long enough to know if we have a good week of practice or we don’t. Coach (Shanahan) came into the game saying stop the run, run the ball, no turnovers, and we’ll win the game. And, we didn’t do the things necessary to win the game.”


On today’s game: “They were able to force more turnovers and we still had chance to win. RB Larry Johnson was able to make some runs. For the most part, we were able to keeps things in front of us in terms of our pass defense. But, we didn’t do a good job against the run this week. Larry Johnson is one the better backs in this league. I know he hasn’t gotten off to the good start he has in the past. He’s a big physical guy and he was able to make some plays. Like we say in this league, ‘On any given Sunday, a team can win.’ Just because they were winless doesn’t mean that they couldn’t win the football game. We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board and evaluate this film. Hopefully we can get ready for Tampa next week.

On giving up 30 points or more for three consecutive weeks: “We don’t want to give up as many points as we’ve given up the last three weeks. But, Kansas City was getting good field position. We did good job of holding them to field goals a couple of times. To be good in this league, you have to try to hold teams to under 20 points. Offensively, we couldn’t score the amount of points we have the last three weeks.


On the Chiefs: “They were 0-3 with their backs against the wall. They had to come out swinging and that’s what they did. The coaches did a good job of preparing them and they were ready to go.”

On playing against his old teammates: “It doesn’t matter. It was fun seeing them after the game. It is what it is. I am a Bronco now.”  


On today’s game: “That’s a good football team we played today. I think what we finally realized was we had to play with passion – just play, not worry about doing everything right or the score. I thought for the most part we did that.

“We went in with the mindset that they have a very good offense and were going to move the ball some, but hold them to field goals. If you just hold them to field goals you’re going to have a chance. They’ve been a team that has possessed the ball 10 times per game and they’ve scored five times out of those possessions – touchdowns and field goals. We just tried to reverse it and wanted to make them score two touchdowns and kick three field goals and you’ve got a shot.  We held them to less than that.

“I thought our offense did a great job of running the ball and keeping their offense off the field. That’s another way you combat a high powered offense like that. Our guys played with a lot of emotion and we took the ball away. Turnovers always help you. That was a big key too. Those kids deserve a win; our fans deserve a win, too. We haven’t won a football game in quite some time. I’ve never been in a drought like this before. Now we’ve got to try and build on this win.”

On the difference in the running game today: “I thought we finished our blocks and we’re starting to learn how to run the ball. I thought we ran the ball last week and while we didn’t win the game, we did some things running in the second half and we built on that. That was our mindset. The only way you can run effectively is if you don’t get behind. We weren’t behind and we kept running it. That was our whole emphasis. It was a close game and we wanted to stick to it. We didn’t get down by two scores or anything like that. That was our plan.”

On the play of your linebackers: “They took the ball away; they ran to the ball. We were a little shorthanded at times and not having (DE Tamba) Hali at full speed hurt. Gun (Cunningham) did a good job. They ran to the ball. The fumble the receiver had, that was a lineman (DE Turk McBride) chasing and hitting the ball out.

“I thought our corners did a pretty good job on the receivers. Denver passed the ball some but (CB Brandon) Carr and (CB Brandon) Flowers – two rookie corners – did a good job. The one touchdown pass (by Denver) in the end zone was a big time catch and the young (corner) came back and intercepted one later.”

On Red Zone defense holding Denver to field goals: “That was the key. I’ve always felt that anytime you get in the end zone that it favors you because the field is cut down and there is not room in the back of the end zone. The throws have to be very accurate. Last year we were in the top three in the Red Zone. If you can hold people from scoring and make them kick field goals, that’s the key. For a team like this that was averaging almost 38 points a game, it was pretty good.”


On today’s game: “Well, we had great balance. We didn’t make a whole lot of plays in the passing game, but we were able to run the football. We fed off our defense’s energy and their ability to create turnovers. We kept fighting, we had the running game going and the passing game picked up there in the second half. It was a great, complete win. Our kicker had a great day today, just all around. All three phases contributed to a much-need win around here.”

On getting the running game going: “I think so. Anytime you get (RB) Larry (Johnson) the ball like we did and the yards he had, we’re going to have a good chance to win. And then our defense’s ability to create turnovers, like I said. We didn’t have a whole lot of turnovers on offense, when you do that you give yourself a chance to win, even against a really good football team.”

On if missing two TD opportunities early might have hurt: “Maybe, we had a lot of energy today. Everybody played with a lot of energy. All the young guys on our defense flying around, our crowd was into it. It was just nice to get a lead early. Even though we only got field goals, we were still ahead early, so that’s the first time that’s happened in a while it seems like. We got that early lead, we got the momentum, we built on it and just put together a great win today.”

On playing with a lead: “I think it relaxes us a little bit. We hone in on our jobs and individually, you know, make a pass, make a run, make a block, do your job. You know, know your role and do your job and we did that today. We executed and we won the game.”

On what this win means in the big picture of things: “It’s one win. We’re 1-3. But it gives us some confidence. We can beat a team that’s 3-0 and playing the way the Broncos were coming in to this game. I think it’s something we’ve got to build on and certainly next week in Carolina.”

On if the offense was feeding off of the defense’s play: “Oh yeah, no question. That’s when you’re at your best when you’re both feeding off of each other; you know offense, defense, special teams. Making plays making hits. (WR Dwayne) Bowe making great catches, (TE) Tony (Gonzalez) (RB) Larry (Johnson) on and on. When playmakers make plays like that you get the momentum and football as we all know is such a game of momentum. We got that early and built on it wouldn’t let down and had a great team win.”

On his performance today: “I think I managed the game well, I didn’t force anything, I was pretty smart with the football for the most part. It was a pretty good game.”

On if this is the most satisfying win he’s had with the Chiefs: “I don’t know. I guess when you lose 12 in a row, this is definitely significant. It’s a nice win. It’s up there.”


On the game: “This was a must win game for this football team. We were getting kind of frazzled. We knew our backs were against the wall to win this game. This team came in 3-0 and played good football. The Denver Broncos played good football. They didn’t let us just have it. We just fought. We had fight.”

On his forced fumble play: “We’ve been working on it all week, the toss from the shotgun. He kind of seized up before the play and just anticipated and I shot the gap. It looked like I was back in college at Texas. I was just making a play. I was making a play for this football team stripping it out.”

On the interception? “I was really surprised I caught it. I was just reading my keys. Knowing that it was third-and-long, don’t jump the little routes and stay back with the Defense.”

On playing in the heat: “We were sweating and we were getting really tired out there. A couple of times I had to get to the sidelines a couple of times to gets some oxygen. We’re a well-disciplined football team and we worked our butts off to get this win. We’re just happy right now.”

On what this win means: “It’s something to build on. This is a division opponent too, so this is a big win for this football team. We cannot be satisfied with this football game, we need to build on it. We beat a really good football team.”


On the game: “We are just excited that we played a decent game for four quarters on all sides of the ball and made some plays. Special teams really helped us out and settled some scores for us. We got some turnovers, the defense did a great job of getting some turnovers and getting us in the scoring areas. We did a good job finishing off some (drives) we still had some yards, had some points out there. We wish we would have got some of those and maybe we could have made this thing a little easier. A win is a win and we really needed it.”

On having a short field for the offense today: “The great thing about it is that we were able to gain some points and reward our defense by putting some points on the board. We would love to get touchdowns in those areas, but just being able to put points on the board for a team that hasn’t been scoring very many points. Anytime we can put some points on the board after a turnover is a great thing to really salute our defense for the great job well done.

On the offensive line and Larry Johnson’s performance: “I think everyone is starting to get on the same page. We’re getting better knowing exactly where we’re going to and the running backs are getting better at knowing where we’re going to so they can set up things for us a little bit. And really just finishing blocks and running hard. That’s really what we’ve got to do as a team.”

On today’s pass protection: “We felt like coming into this game that this was an area that we could get better. Our biggest area of improvement is going to be pass protection. We’re really upset because the sack we gave up was really a miscommunication between the quarterback and the receiver and we ended up cutting a guy thinking the ball was going to be out and he ended up getting sacked. So even with that we were able to overcome it. The great thing about is that we didn’t let it bother us and we just got back and went back to work. That’s where we got to be in this game, we have to have our head on strong and just focus on the next play.”


On the game: “It was great. They (Denver) were behind all four quarters. The offense, we scored almost every time we got the ball and they gained confidence to do their job well and fill the gap and they know that the other guy was going to make the tackle.

On getting a victory: “I knew it was going to happen. It was just a matter of time. It was  a big game like this where we needed to show that we can go out and play for four quarters and we did. … It’s nice getting the pressure off of the coaches and staff. We are the one’s that have to go out and do our jobs and make the plays and we showed it.”

On Damon Huard’s performance: “He played like a veteran is supposed to play. He made the throws. He made the checkdowns. Now he has confidence going into next week.”

On wanting to go for it on fourth down during the second drive of the day: “Once you do one thing and it works, and another thing and it works, that builds confidence. That’s what wins games when the whole offensive line and the quarterback is confident. When the quarterback is confident, the receivers are confident. I was just hoping (to go for it), but the coaches made a great decision and kicked the field goal and that kept us in the game.”

On Larry Johnson’s 65-yard run: “It opened up things tremendously, the corners stopped playing back and that just left him with tremendous holes to read. He made some great runs and I made some blocks for him and he finished it off.”

Sunday, September 28, 2008

NFL to Denver: Still Just Human

It was suggested early last week by me, that, being that the Kansas City Chiefs employed two of the best players in the NFL- maybe they should try getting them the ball. I suggested maybe just passing the ball to Tony Gonzalez and Dewayne Bowe all the time, spell that by handing the ball off to Larry Johnson- couldn't be a worse outcome right? 

Well, slap my ass and call me Herm Edwards.

The problem? The Denver Broncos defense was complacent in their misery, they may have actually gained overall ground in the NFL against the Chiefs; being that the Chiefs only scored 33 points. The Broncos secondary gave up only 160 yards to the Chiefs and only 207 yards to their ground game. By all looks of it, Denver showed vast improvement on defense. As good as the Broncos defense is at being bad, it was ultimately the Broncos offense that lost the game. 

Denver fans were ready to crown Brandon Marshall the messiah and Eddie Royal his second coming. Then they both fumbled, Royal on the Broncos opening drive, deep in Denver territory. Marshall's was even worse though... 

The Messiah's drop cost the Broncos their drive, their forward momentum and their confidence. Quarterback Jay Cutler went on to throw two times as many interceptions to the Chiefs than he has all season, if that wasn't enough, his sack total was doubled as well. 

However, despite it all, Cutler threw for 361 yards, Royal had his second 100-yard game, Selvin Young kept chipping away at his 2,000 yard prediction with 49 yards (only 1,821 to go). So what gives? Brandon Stokley even came out a bit this game, he was worth 80 yards. So improved defense- check. Offensive production- check. Better special teams- check. What's so different this game?

It has become my mantra lately, defense wins championships, but not games- hell, the Philadelphia Eagles just proved it, losing to the Chicago Bears. Offense wins games.

Breaking down my focuses:
  • Focus one: Contain Tony Gonzalez.

    Throughout all of my scouting on the Chiefs, last week I in advisably said that the Chiefs should just feed Gonzo the ball. Let Johnson and Bowe spell him and just see what happens. The Chiefs did find Gonzalez for a touchdown, but for the most part Boss Bailey kept the man in check. 

  • Focus two: Stop Larry Johnson.

    The man went buck wild on that 65-yard run, he shouldn't have, but it happened and he did. He finished with 198 yards. He probably wouldn't have, except Kansas City was leading the whole game, did you expect them to pass? The man has made a career out of teeing off against the Broncos. 

  • Focus three: Cover Dewayne Bowe.

    For the life of me I do not know why Bowe caught wild on Denver, but then again, I really do and that brings me to my fourth focus. That was... 

  • Focus four: Incorporate rookie cornerback Jack Williams in as the nickel back. 

    Fed up with Karl Paymah getting ran over? Me too, I was the first calling for Jack "Mother F***ing" Williams two weeks ago, he tore it up in preseason and in training camp. However, Jack "Mother F***ing" Williams became Jack "Mother F***er" Williams today. However, what the hell was he doing covering Bowe in the first place? Who the hell was Champ Bailey covering on that play? It got to the point where literally every time Bowe caught a pass, Williams was covering him. What is up with that? Did the Chiefs have two other receivers that I wasn't aware of that warranted Bailey and Dre Bly's attention? 
Let me sum this whole thing up by saying that, I'd rather Denver get humbled in September by the Chiefs then get blown up by the Carolina Panthers in the midst of a playoff hunt. So with that out of the way, I've got plenty of Tampa Bay Buccaneers scouting information to report to you. So keep plugged in, because I'm back. 

Larry Johnson photo courtesy of Reuters.
Brandon Marshall courtesy of A.P./Charles Riedel

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

After Further Review...

Isn't DVR a wonderful thing? A second/third viewing of the September 14 game between the Broncos and the Chargers has produced the following observations:

  • The overall defense wasn't as bad as it seemed in realtime. Run D is much improved.

  • Pressure was applied to Philip Rivers, but he just stands in the shrinking pocket and throws the ball. Elvis is banged up and the Broncos need another pass rushing defensive lineman. We are all wondering about Jarvis Moss. Ekuban and Peterson made some big-time defensive plays. Engelberger had a sack. Josh Shaw played some. Robertson and Thomas are doing a good job in the middle and really collapse the pocket on pass plays while remaining solid against the run. The Broncos are playing a three-man odd-front D-Line in passing situations. My jury is still out on that.

  • Sproles was mostly contained when he was rushing except for his TD run which must have been a blown play for the D. The Bronco LBs ran themselves out of position in a way that Slowik couldn't have possibly wanted. Aside from the kick return for a TD (oops), he was contained by Denver's ST.

  • Denver's LBs may as well be considered as new with Williams and Webster in new spots and Bailey new to the team. Boss was playing in his first game since the first preseason game. It seems that he was manned up on Tolbert when San Diego made a big pass play to him in the third quarter. My take is that the defense will improve as it advances through the season with the backers becoming more comfortable with the system, the calls and each other. One wonders, however, if Webster runs himself out of position to make tackles. DJ was great and got a flag for a hit on Rivers which was duplicated by the Chargers later on, but with no flag on them.

  • In spite of big plays by the Chargers in the third quarter, Denver's D held them to two FGs instead of TDs which is huge.

  • Karl Paymah doesn't seem to be able to cover as a nickel DB. That's odd because nickel coverage is often cover 1. Paymah was clearly in man several times, especially against Chris Chambers. Eventually Jack Williams may get his chance.

  • Safety play appears to be just adequate at the moment. Three of them (McCree, Manuel and Lowry) are new, so maybe we'll see steady improvement. I hope so. Two Safeties (Barrett and Rogers) are on the Practice Squad, so if there is regression at that position ...

  • Punting and place-kicking are vastly improved this year. Prater made a 50+ FGA and Kern punted for about 60yds a couple of times. He seems to be a pretty good holder, too. This situation seems fixed. O'Brian seems to be a good coach for kickers/punters.

  • Kick coverage is mostly good except for the occasional breakdown (e.g., Sproles' TD). There are many new players on ST (Koutouvides, Woodyard, Larsen, etc.), so maybe more consistency can be anticipated. Punt coverage was pretty good.

  • Raving about the "skill" positions aside, the big development for Denver's O is the line. Hey ... , they ARE BIG. The tackles are very young and inexperienced, but the Ryans are playing great right now. Clady is a better pass than run blocker at the moment, but he has much upside. Harris has really stepped up and pleasantly surprised us all after we expected to see Kuper at RT. San Diego's odd-front DL w/a different backer coming each play was a good test for the O-Line. That front is more difficult for the C and Gs than for the tackles. Kuper struggled with it at times, but came out OK. Hamilton's return is doing wonders for the OL. His experience, leadership and consistency are invaluable. Wiegmann is doing a great job, but gets his butt kicked from time to time. An odd front with a big NT and ILBs blitzing the A gap is harder for him than a split-front. Let us hope Nalen can return before much longer and give Casey a break. Lichtensteiger is getting some game time in the backfield on short yardage/in + 20 situations which is interesting.

  • Even after trading away Colbert and Jackson injured at the moment, Denver's receivers are a scary bunch especially when you include Scheffler. One of his TDs came on a route he ran as a split-end vs. double coverage. Marshall the Monster, Royal the Rookie (who plays like a vet) and Stokley the Slot Machine are as difficult a group to cover as any in the league because they are all so different from each other. Imagine covering Scheffler on one play and Royal on the next followed by Marshall and, later on, Stokley. Wait 'til Darrell is back at full speed. Graham is stll mostly a blocker (he's SO good at it), but he will get some balls thrown his way in each game. Nate Jackson draws coverage and is an excellent ST player.
  • The RB committee is working well, better than most suspected. Hall, Young and Pittman are following their blocks, making the cuts and getting good yards. How did you like that 3rd and 24 situation where the Broncos gave the ball to Selvin who cut back and got blocks from Cutler, Marshall and Royal to run for a 1st down? Sweet! By rotating the backs, Shanahan is keeping them all healthy and using them on ST as well. Just wait until Torain returns ... just wait. Peyton Hillis deservedly earned his roster spot as the "true FB". He is learning as he goes. Sometimes he blocks the wrong guy on a blitz, but he will figure it all out sooner rather than later. His blocking is better than I thought it would be. Also thought he would have a bigger impact as a receiver than a ballcarrier, but so far it's been the other way around. It is inevitable that will change when defenses think they have found a way to cover Marshall, Royal and Scheffler AND stop the run when Hillis is in. That's when Shanahan and Co. will get him the ball through the air. Watch out when Pittman is in the backfield with Hillis.
  • If Jay Cutler isn't the real deal as a premier NFL QB, then I haven't seen one lately. He has a ball security issue that I'm sure he will fix (dropped the ball twice vs. Chargers). Averaging over 300 yards per game, he seems to be on a mission to compensate for the defense (which shows signs of improvement). The OL is protecting him well giving ample time to connect with a dangerous group of receivers. The pass is setting up a run game which must be respected at all times. Finally, the playcalling is imaginative and aggressive. Cutler gives Shanahan and Co. the ability to run anything from their playbook from anyplace on the field.

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Are you ready for some football!"

This isn't what you'll see on Monday night, but it's enough to get you pumped up for Monday.

Okay... Not quite the hax0r that I used to be, copy and paste here:

"You want their Momma's to say, 'Oh, that's not my child, my child has a face!'" - Samuel L. Jackson

(Javalon over at BCMB is nice enough to post it up for all of the Denver Broncos fans.)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Echoes of Futures Past

Last year, Mike Shanahan was asked for his position on the team, prior to the first game of the season, "We're undefeated..." he said as he kept walking briskly. He was right, two weeks later, still undefeated. The Walker injury, the Indianapolis game, then Travis Henry, we were a team that had overdosed and in desperate need of an intervention. Or at least a breath. There was none to be had, a team that couldn't breath, back against the wall and stumbling punch drunk.

I've referenced the dark cloud before, I'm not going there again, but I will say there's nothing like the days before the season starts. Knowing only that you really don't know is always the most exciting part of any game for me, it just gets magnified prior to the season. The optimist in me usually strangles the pessimist in me and this is usually around the time that I cut off my nose to spite having a knife.

Seems a far cry from, "We're undefeated," doesn't it? I don't have anything bad to say about the Raiders, hell, I feel bad for them. I am working for someone whom I is very similar to the Raiders owner/general manager Al Davis. Similar in that they're both far past their time, stuck with old ideas and burdened by the fact that they'll never quite be great again. Sad in that life has dwindled down to just one measly possession and like a good captain of a ship, they will hold the mast as their old age blinds them into every oncoming iceberg until there is nothing left of the ship to hold onto and nothing but the cold dead sea will be there to embrace them in the end.

Did you see the look in Mike Shanahan's eyes when he said, "No, it doesn't dissipate at all." (01:05). How he held his gaze and his eyes grew cold, could you feel his thoughts? As the reporter continued the question and Shanahan's eyes literally went bloodshot on camera, "When I said it doesn't dissipate, that's what that means..." (01:18). He's laughing, but that's so he doesn't axe that guy right there. I know exactly how he feels and this is how I know that this season is different than any other. It also happens to be the reason why earlier I said that I feel bad for the Oakland Raiders.