**B:** We made no roster moves. We're back at it on Denver today. Injury report, we've got a couple guys that are questionable with Willie [McGinest] and [Matt] Chatham. [Larry] Whigham is doubtful, so he is upgraded and doing a little better. Max [Lane] is questionable too, so we'll see how they are out there today but hopefully that will take a positive turn. Just on Denver for a couple minutes. I think Mike Shanahan has really done a good job with this team and this organization. They play with a good purpose. I think they are very well coached, this is probably one of the best-coached teams and that is not to slight anybody else. I just thinking that watching Denver play, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, where Mike is involved, they are extremely well coached both fundamentally and from a scheme stand point. They've got a good offensive line, they've got two good receivers, and they've got several good running backs. Seems like whichever one they put out on the field is very productive. [Dwayne] Carswell has done a good job for them at tight end, stepping in there for [Shannon] Sharpe. He's bringing along a young quarterback and so I think he's really done a good job with the football team. Defensively they are very aggressive. They have a lot of turnovers. They try to create a lot of penetration and cause negative plays and put a lot of pressure on your offense. And then he's revamped the special teams from last year. He has a lot of new faces in the kicking game and that looks like a unit that's improved from where they were at last year. This is a good football team, I know they lost a tough game on Sunday against Kansas City but they've played extremely well this year. We know Denver is a tough place to play and I think they've got the best home record in the league over the last twenty years, ahead of Miami. So this is two weeks in a row that we know we'll be in a hostile environment and that will be another thing that we'll have to deal with. This is a real impressive football team and I think Mike's done a real good job with them through the years but I think you can really see the results this year on the field.
Q: One of the unique aspects about Denver is that they have standardized their running game no matter who is back there they seem to be successful. Does this speak a lot for the system or the offensive line of Denver?
B: I think it says a lot about the system because all three of those guys are similar, they're the same type of backs. It's pretty clear that Denver's been able to put together a running game. You know they've changed some parts on the offensive line, they've change some parts at running back and tight end but it hasn't effected the production. They obviously know what they're doing , know what they're looking for, know how to get it done and have gotten it done over a consistent period of time. I think you've got to give them credit, part of it's the players but I think another part of it's the system. I think when you look at Denver's roster you see a lot of guys on that roster who are not the super high profile players. John Elway was the first pick in the draft but there are a lot of guys like Terrell Davis, later picks. A guy like Carswell has been out there for four or five years, has played behind some pretty good players and now he's gotten his opportunity. He's stepping in and he's ready. [Ed] McCaffrey. Rod Smith. McCaffrey was waived through the league and he's been available, they are a lot of players like that. You look at that whole group out there, it's not like those guys were the first pick in the draft or the second pick in the draft. It's clear that Mike has worked them hard, that they've bought in to the system and that there is a lot of continuity in that system and that the team plays well together. I think that you've got to credit the players for being diligent and working hard but also it's a testimony to the job Mike's done out there with building that program.
Q: After the Super Bowls and the retirement of John Elway there could have been a significant drop off for the Broncos but they seemed to have turned it around after a slight drop off last year. What is it?
B: I think it's the program. I think it's that Mike's been out there for a while and he's gotten the people in the program that have bought in to it, that work hard at it and I think that that is a competitive, hard working group of players. All the players that I have known that have come from there, that have been in that situation, that's the way they were. I think the results on that are paying off, through the years, with the championships. They struggled a little bit last year and there were some circumstances they had to overcome but you're right, they're on their way back. I am not sure they were down that far last year. Their record indicated it but I don't think the team was really indicative of the record. It looks like they're going to be pretty competitive this year. They've got a good football team.
Q: Denver's line may not be as big as most. What is it that makes them so successful even though they may not be putting the beefiest line up there?
B: First of all, I think the line they have is pretty good. They've got some very athletic people on the line and I think that they are well coached. Alex [Gibbs] is an excellent offensive line coach, there's no question about that. They play with real good continuity and they've been able to keep the same people together through a period of years. I'm not sure about all the stats, all the weights and everything. I coached Tony Jones at Cleveland and Tony's good, a Pro-Bowl left tackle, but he's no 275 pounds now. I can tell you that having coached him, he's no midget, he's as big as most left tackles in the league are. However big that is, he's plenty big enough. And [Matt] Lepsis he's no midget either. But whatever their weight is, whatever their size is they function well together as a unit. You can't overstate the importance of that on the offensive line. When you can get five guys thinking as one and playing as one you see very few mistakes within the group where they miss somebody or they turn a guy free or you can see there is a missed assignment and that's very, very rare. So it's good coaching, good athletic players, a lot of continuity, and obviously they've got good backs running behind that line too and that doesn't hurt. Even when there isn't a big whole there sometimes those backs are BYOB-Be Your Own Blocker, make your own whole. They do a good job of that sometimes.
Q: How would you assess your running game? You haven't had the kind of continuity in the offensive line that a team like Denver has had?
B: Well, I think it is sporadic. In the first three weeks it was better than it was last week. Against Miami we weren't able to run the ball as effectively as we'd have liked to. But overall, statistically we were fairly consistent with it until this last game. I think that Denver is one of the top teams in the league against the run, which they usually are. They play a lot of people up on the line of scrimmage and they try to outnumber you in the running game a lot of times. So it will be a challenge for us to try and run the ball against this team.
**Q: How would you assess the play of Bruce Armstrong? Have the injury and new faces on the offensive line hurt him?**
B: I think the more continuity you have, the better. I don't think there is any question about that. I think the more that we can play together the better we should play, picking up stunts, recognizing blitzes, and things that happen. It's easy when everything happens all at once, when everybody hits the gap at the same time. But when they come in different waves and levels and all there's some sorting out that you need to get accomplished on the line. The more continuity you can have, the better it is. For the left side of the line, not that there has been a whole lot of continuity on either side, our continuity has really been up the middle, but the more continuity you can get over there the better it is going to be for everybody.
Q: How do you think he is holding up?
B: I think he's holding up OK.
Q: Ted Johnson seems to have made a bit of a leap last week, has he been playing fairly well or was this as big a jump as it seemed to be?
B: It could be. I think Ted has progressed each week. The first week he played he was only out there a couple days for practice. Then from the Tampa game on he hasn't missed anything in practice. He's been able to get his reps., even work some things after practice that he needed a little extra time on, timing and that kind of thing. So I think it has been a steady progression. I think last week he played well against Miami but I don't think it was a dramatic leap. I see it as consistent. Ted's worked hard and he is trying to make up for some lost time. I think he's making some strides.
Q: How different is he now than when you were here in 1996?
B: Similar. In one sense he's got a little bit more experience although when you look at those years there hasn't been actually that much playing time that he has experienced. Still, every year you are around the game and you are involved in it, as he is. And as hard as he works you certainly make some strides. I mean he is clearly a more experienced player than he was in 96. But I think overall that he is similar. He was pretty good, he had a terrific year in 96, particularly the second half of the season when he really came on. We played pretty good run defense that year and he was a big part of it. The way his career has ascended taking the beginning of the 96 season to now is not really anything that shocking. He is a hard working intelligent guy that is tough and physical and brings a lot to the table.
Q: How has he adjusted to taking on guards more?
B: I don't know exactly how much that was required in the previous years but he did that a lot when we were here in 96. I don't think that it's anything that he's uncomfortable with and that he hasn't done at some point earlier. That is basically the way they played at Colorado too. The linebackers were more on the guards and less in the gaps.
Q: Is there a developmental competition in practice between guys like [Dane] Looker, [Shockmain] Davis, and other young players?
B: Absolutely. They are in competition every week and they should be developing every week. We spend a lot of time with those players, even the players who aren't active for the game, not just the ones you mentioned but all of them. There is a strong emphasis for them to make an improvement. And at some point they may either need to be ready, be it the circumstances, or they need to project themselves into a role where they can contribute. That role can come in a number of different fashions. If they want to play they have to establish a role for themselves. Whether it's being a third down back, or being a third down pass rusher, or playing in the kicking game, or doing something. And until they can establish that role they are not going to get that opportunity unless something happens where they are kind of thrust in to the role due to circumstances. I think that all of them are trying to create that role for themselves and they understand that look, this is the best opportunity for you to get into the game, is to be good in this area. Like for Looker, it is not going to be rushing the passer so don't worry about that. Here are the things that you can do, if you get better at it you could be active at the game and be on the roster. So he's working on those things. For somebody else it is something else. That definitely is an emphasis and certainly there is competition. If we see somebody looks like they are moving ahead of somebody else, then we're going to try to recognize that.
Q: Is there anybody in that group that might be on the verge of breaking through, of being put in a role?
B: Well I think that the players who are on the 45, the active roster for the games, are doing that. If they weren't then there wouldn't be any reason to take them. I think Shockmain is an example of somebody who wasn't active at the beginning of the year who now you see covering punts, and returning kickoffs, and playing a little bit at receiver. That's how those guys can develop sometimes, if they do a good job of it. Again I am just using him as an example, I'm not trying to canonize him or anything. If he is at the game because he can cover punts and because he can return kick-offs, then offensively you've got a guy who's available that you can use in a certain role there. But you just can't justify bringing him as an extra receiver to run two patterns, you just can't justify that. The fact that he was able to establish a role for himself in the kicking game in the last couple weeks has given him a lot more opportunity as a receiver. And that would be true of a guy who can do that as a third down pass rusher , then maybe he gets in the game on first and second down too. But that is how they create those opportunities.
Q: How much was [J.R.] Redmond held back by not being able to participate in training camp, how much did it hurt his development?
B: It certainly didn't help him, not being in training camp. I mean he was here, but not being able to participate didn't help him. When he was able to play at the end of training camp the treadmill was moving pretty fast. All the offense had been installed, we were in our fourth and fifth preseason game, you're starting to see things from other teams that are more than just vanilla. They're starting to develop their systems a little bit and there is a certain degree of game planning going on. When I say game planning, if you put in a game plan thing then maybe when you put it in on Wednesday maybe that is the first time you've really worked on it. It is not something you had a lot of turns in in training camp. Then the volume starts to increase. So I don't think any of those things helped him. On the other hand, at least he is healthy which he wasn't back in mini-camp. There is definitely forward progress, it is just the rate of the progress versus the rate or the speed that everything else is going at.
**Q: How do you keep a positive attitude, keep the team positive?**
B: How do I keep a positive attitude? I'm not discouraged. I mean I'm not happy, don't get me wrong. Nobody's going to accept 0-4 and nobodies going to feel good about anything that has happened on the record this point in the season. But I'm not discouraged. I'm disappointed, and I'm frustrated, and I think the team feels that way too. There are enough positive signs that we can turn the corner. I think as long as everybody feels that way there's an opportunity that that is going to happen.
Q: Would it do these guys good to play a little more recklessly, with a little more abandon?
B: What's that, I mean I don't know. I'm not sure I understand. I don't think it will do any good to play reckless and get 15 yard penalties, which we've had a couple of those. Whether that is recklessness, or aggressiveness, or whatever it is, those penalties usually don't do anything but lead to points on the board for the other team. That's the kind of thing you've got to draw the line on. You've got to play aggressive and you've got to play a reckless style of football but it has to be somewhat under control or you start doing things like that. You start doing things like third and three jumping on a fake to a back and they throw a fifty-yard pass for a touchdown. You can be real aggressive there and all you are doing is trying to block an extra point. I think you've got to draw the line between just going out there and running around and trying to be aggressive, versus trying to win a football game.
Q: Maybe the guys need to push a little more?
B: I don't think going out there and throwing three or four interceptions to try to squeeze a couple passes in is the answer either. The answer is execution. In the passing game you need to block for the quarterback so he has time throw which at times has been a problem but at times hasn't. Then the ball needs to be thrown where the receivers can catch it, which at times has been a problem and at times it hasn't. The receivers need to be able to get open and beat the coverage, because they're not going to let you run free and just catch a bunch of passes. You're going to have to get away from somebody and get open and then catch the ball. Some of the catches are going to be tough catches. So the combination of things in the passing game has to hit. To me the answer is execution and more precision than what we are doing. Balls go off receivers' fingertips, the quarterback can't step up in the pocket and deliver a good ball because there is pressure and things like that. That's what effects the execution and the timing of plays, and ultimately they are not going to be as successful as when you get it done cleanly.
Q: Have you been satisfied with the effort you have seen game in and game out?
B: I have been satisfied basically with the physical effort. I'm still not satisfied with the precision, the level of attention to detail, and the ability for us as a team, collectively, to be able to execute under pressure or at the defining moment of the game or defining time it needs to be done. That hasn't been what it needs to be and our record reflects it. I don't think it is necessarily from a lack of effort or a lack of trying but it is not the level of execution that it needs to be done with.
Q: You said you've seen some positive things that you liked, what were some of those things?
B: Well, I think if you look at the first four games that we're certainly within striking distance in each of those four games. We did enough things to be in that position, I just don't feel like to this point in the season that we have just been massacred week in and week out and can't put a competitive team the field. I just haven't seen that. If we could do a few more things right than what we are doing then I think we could change some of the results.
Q: You talked about Denver not having many high profile players, do they do something unique in scouting that allows them to highlight guys who will work in their system specifically?
B: I am sure they do. I haven't been in their scouting system for over twenty years so I don't have a lot of first hand knowledge of it. But I think they are like a lot of other teams, they definitely have a system. Mike's been there for a while and there is a system in place that they know what they are doing and try to live within that system. I think that is good, I think that is what you want to do. If you look at their draft record it's probably like a lot of other teams. You are going to see some players that they took high that didn't work out. You are going to see some players that they took high that did work out. You are going to see some players they took low that worked out. They've certainly had their share of success, I think you have to give them credit for that. I don't think it's been perfect, but neither has anyone else's. What I admire about what they are doing, and what Mike's done, is that they've taken a lot of guys who anybody in the league could have had, really, at one point or another in the last five years, excluding the Elways and a couple guys like that. Over a period of years, and I use Carswell as an example have gone from guys who didn't play, who didn't contribute, weren't really much of a part of there system. I mean three years ago you certainly wouldn't have been standing up here talking about how are we going to stop Dwayne Carswell today, over a period of time have worked, and improved and grown within the system to become good, solid contributors. You know [Dan] Neil is another guy who was a low draft pick, they had to wait a year for him, he couldn't play because of injury. Now he is a starting guard, he is a good player. [Matt] Lepsis is another guy, you can see him developing. Defensively they took [Deltha] O'Neal this year, he's returning kicks and all that, but I am sure that in time - I am not sure - but my guess is that in time he'll be a real strong contributor in that secondary. I'm not saying he doesn't contribute now, but I am saying that in two years we might be talking a lot differently about him then we are saying what his contribution is going to be five games into his rookie season. I think that they have done that with enough players from McCaffrey, I mean you just go right down the line and could name a couple dozen of them. Romanowski, you go right down the list. Those guys have come along and they've developed them and the players have worked hard and the system has pushed them and it's brought them together. They've got a good football team and they've done it over a period of time and I think that's the test, being able to do it year in and year out. Maybe not every year but five out of six, or six out of seven, or four out of five, whatever it is.