HEAD COACH VIC VANGIO
POSTGAME VIDEO CONFERENCE
October 18, 2020
Q. On injuries, updates on Risner and Spencer?
VF: I don't. They just kind of told me in the locker room that it's a shoulder, clavicle area with Spencer. I don't have an update on Risner yet.
Q. Your defense today, sacks and takeaways, how impressed were you with their effort today?
VF: Thoroughly impressed from start to finish. That's a game that the way that turned out in that fourth quarter, it did get away from us but could have gotten away and been fatal.
I think it speaks to the type of players we have, the type of team, the conviction they have. Those guys went out there and fought, fought, fought. They did a great job.
That's a good offense we played. They were averaging 30 points a game with Cam Newton as the quarterback.
Q. Is there something of the notion that a team has to learn how to win? If so, what do the last two games say about where your team is going?
VF: Yeah, I don't think there's any doubt you have to learn how to win. But that's a three-phase operation that has to do with that. We've got to do better in the fourth quarter there, close that out.
But, hey, sometimes it's going to happen that way. Sometimes the offense is going to struggle and defense is going to have to continue to go back out there and finish the game. Sometimes you're going to get in the shootout. It gets to where the team that has the ball last has the chance to win the game. That might have to be us someday.
Hopefully we can learn from that. That's two games we won on the road that were tight, tight games. Hey, I'm proud of the guys.
Q. I'm not sure your reputation is as much a blitz guy. Talk about that blitz on fourth down to sew up the game there.
VF: Well, unbeknownst to you and everybody else, at one time I was the leading blitz-krieger in the NFL. I've been, I don't know, calling defenses now for 20-some years. The last few years with the teams I had in San Francisco and Chicago, we didn't need to. But it's there when it needs to be had. Obviously we needed to have it today.
The final one today was one that we put in for this game. We had never run before. I had never run before in my career. We put it in. I called it there.
Q. Could you kind of review the last two weeks. I thought the first three quarters you just seemed sharper, better prepared. The way you handled the whole COVID-19 situation, it seemed like it paid off for you as far as having mental toughness for this game. Secondly, game ball, who got those?
VF: Yeah, I mean, like I've said before, our guys have been fantastic in handling everything that comes with COVID. It started in training camp. But it was stressed this past two weeks, obviously with the game having three different scheduled dates, the guys losing their bye week, everything that goes with that. I think they were a lot like me in a way in that, yeah, you're mad, you're disappointed, you're frustrated, you wonder why. Five minutes later you take a deep breath and you move on. I've tried to get the guys to think that way. I think they have.
They are a tough-minded group of people. I think that was on display today. To come up here and win that game, the way it turned out, it could have been an easy win where we were high five-ing each other for the last three or four minutes of the game. As is the case sometimes in the NFL, that's not the way it turned out.
It took all that fortitude that we are using to deal with COVID to go win that game. I do think there's a carryover.
Q. And the game balls?
VF: We gave one to McManus. He set a record, I was told, a Broncos team record for six field goals. I thought hard about letting him try for the seventh one there. It would have been 57 or 58. If he had missed, I didn't want to give them the good field position and jump start their offense there. I don't regret the decision.
We're going to deliver a game ball to Curtis Modkins in his absence here. I'm sure he's thrilled that we won. He's feeling great. He has no symptoms. But I know it's tough for him to miss the game.
Q. The teams that score in their first six drives are now 34-1, but all yours were field goals. Did you ever feel comfortable or were you on pins and needles?
VF: Well, I mean, obviously I'm happy we're scoring. I'd like some of those to be touchdowns, as everybody on this team would, every Bronco fan would. We're going to have to work harder finishing our drives, particularly in the red zone. I don't know how many of those were down in the red zone. Really only two of them, I guess. They were fairly long field goals.
Yeah, we'd like to finish them with some touchdowns. Usually they can come back to bite you. If we hadn't held on, it would have bitten us. But they proved to be enough to win the game. Right now that's all we need.
Q. You took a lot of shots at the end zone. A couple of times the receivers were just missing it. Was that just rust from the rhythm not having drew the last few weeks? How do you think Albert O did in his debut?
VF: I don't think it comes down to rust. I mean, the ball is up in the air. There's a chance there. We got to find a way to make those plays, whether it be just another inch or two farther in the throw, going up there and competing for the ball. We got to be better at those. You're not going to get them all, but I think we could have converted at least one of those which would have had a major impact on the game.
I thought Albert came in, he caught two balls I believe for 45 yards. I believe both of them were first downs or both good gains. I thought he did well. He had a lot of practice the last two weeks with Noah being hurt. He had some practices that were just so-so in catching the ball, some that were real good.
Him and I talked. I just said he's got to play free. I thought he was practicing a little tense. To free himself up, be who he can be, go out there with confidence, run the routes, ball is thrown, go get it. I felt a little better body language from him through the game.
Q. Can you expand a little bit on the last blitz, on why you decided to put something in you've never run before.
VF: Well, I just think at times during the season you have to come up with something new on a week-to-week basis. That's one that I've been looking at. Just decided this was the time to do it.
I mean, this was the week to put in, plus was the time for us to do it as our package evolves here. With Cam Newton, as you guys saw, I think he was their leading rusher. I don't think many of them were called runs. Most of them were scrambles.
We've got to add guys sometimes to contain a good quarterback that's a good runner. It's just where we're at right now. I just thought the timing was right for it.
Q. Phillip Lindsay, how did he look in his return?
VF: I thought at times he looked really, really good, like Phillip always has looked. At other times I thought he was a little rusty. But that's to be expected. He hadn't played since the first half of our opener. I think when you consider everything, he played good. But I think he'll look at it and think he left some yards out there.
Q. How would you evaluate Drew's performance?
VF: I thought Drew played well. He hadn't played since about the 10th play of the Pittsburgh game. Didn't practice until this week really. I thought he looked good out there.
When I say that, I just thought he looked comfortable. He didn't look like a guy who's coming back from injury. Wasn't tentative. He was out there playing football the way we want him to play. Obviously the interceptions we don't want to have. One was miscommunication. I'll look at the other on tape.
I think it's a great learning experience for him and the entire team. Hopefully we'll be better to close out the next time we get a lead like that.
QUARTERBACK DREW LOCK
POSTGAME VIDEO CONFERENCE
October 18, 2020
Q: Overall how did you feel you threw it after such a long layoff?
DL: Yeah, I felt good. I've kind of always been the guy, when you get into a game, the ball just comes out better than it does in practice or warmups. You don't think about anything, you don't think about your motion, your stroke, your feet. You just rely back on the thousands and thousands of reps you've taken over your life. Just comes out. That's kind of how you feel out there on the field. It's how I felt today, which I was excited about.
There's no doubt in my mind that I was ready to come out and play, try to lead us to a win. I think maybe a week earlier then I'm not 100% sure about, but I would have been ready this week. I was excited that this got to be pushed back to be able to play this game and I got to step on the field.
Q: After the second interception, how anxious were the last two minutes for you watching the defense?
DL: Very, very anxious. That's our offense, though. We're going to take shots. The first one was 100% on me. From the look I saw, I thought I could try to squeeze it back shoulder. Of course, the defender falls off. Me and Tim will work on that this week. If I just throw it the way I've been throwing it the whole game (indiscernible) against No. 2, man-to-man, throw it like the first throw of the game, it would have been fine. Wouldn't have been able to throw the second pick. Possibly scored, get other field goal. I would have been sipping Gatorade on the sidelines instead of biting my nails.
Q. There were deep shots early. What went into today's emphasis on being aggressive with those downfield shots?
DL: We just felt like we could take those. That's the thing with our offense. That's the reason we drafted the guys that we did, kept the guys that we did. We feel like we can throw these shots, take these deep shots.
Teams are going to be have to be leery about that. They're going to have to have guys over the top to help. If they do that, then we'll run the ball.
It's going to take two really, really good DBs on each side with good safety help to stop these guys from running by them. We're that confident in our athletes that we have here in Denver. I'm excited to keep progressing in the offense, keep learning, just keep figuring this thing out.
Q: Phillip Lindsay, not only the yards he gained, but the energy he brought.
DL: Yeah, rock 'em sock 'em Bob and Phil with the hair rolling today. He was ready. He was excited. It felt good to finally have him back on the field, man. He brings an energy that is infectious, without a doubt.
Having him back is huge for our offense. I'm just excited to hopefully get everyone back eventually, offense, deep inside the ball, see how good this team can be.
Q: You talked about Tim's catch on the first play of the game. Also the 32-yarder down the sideline, catching it through the sun. What can you say about the way he's progressed here?
DL: Yeah, when I talked to Coach Shurmur before he got here, before he got to know anybody, I told him one of the guys that might not get talked about enough, he might get talked about a little bit but not enough in my eyes, was Tim Patrick. He's always been that guy to me, in my opinion. Big, strong, physical guy. Loves the game of football.
It's hard to beat him out to practice, it really is. They want to be out there. Want to work. Coach Azzanni has them wired every single day. I told Coach Shurmur before he got here, this guy is going to make a lot of plays for us this year.
He's not a media guy. No one is going to freak out about him, get 30,000 tweets about Tim Patrick this year. He's going to make a lot of plays for us. I'm excited about him being on our team.
Q: You talk about muscle memory, just going out and playing. Is that what it is with Albert O out there? Back to your time in Columbia?
DL: Yeah, without a doubt it was. That route that he ran, we've put him on that a couple times there in Columbia. I told him it's no different than college, just a little faster. You're bigger, smarter, stronger. You're going to come out here and play well.
I even called one of my buddies last night that was my roommate, Albert's friend, mine, Jack. Albert is going to go out tomorrow and make some plays, man. You got to tune in. I'm excited for him to play.
Albert is going to be upset about some of those plays in the red zone. Of course, I hold him to a higher standard than he's probably hoping for. We'll probably hit a couple of those after practices this week. But I was excited for him.
Q: How does the body feel? You did take a couple good hits. You found a way to win the past two games. Do you feel there's a bit of return to relevance, you're turning the corner now?
DL: Yeah, I mean, I feel like the media might feel like it's return to relevance, people that aren't in our building might think that. We knew we could be a really good team. It's hard to come up to Gillette and win, but better yet win without scoring a touchdown. We knew we could be a really good team. We just got to keep putting these pieces together, keep rolling.
We're playing a really, really good team next week. It's going to be a big test for us to see who we are, see if we're mentally and physically tough enough to get a win.
I truly feel like we're an extremely good team. We just got to put both sides of the ball together, all three, offense, defense, special teams. We were a little bit together tonight. But I'd say special teams and defense carried this win without a doubt.
Q: You moved the ball all day, but the red zone and the high red zone area you didn't come through. Seemed like you took a lot of deep shots. Was that the game plan? You're not getting complacent knowing you got Brandon McManus behind you?
DL: He definitely allows us to take a deep breath there, call what we feel like, call what we want. That was kind of the game plan. We saw opportunities to pass the ball on him down there. The opportunities were there. We just got to come up with it. That's the struggle of it. It's just football. We got to put those little plays together. They made some, we made some. In the end we need to make more than they do.
I guess in a way we did because we won. But as an offensive side of the ball, offensive group, we know we got a lot to work on. We appreciate or defense and our special teams.
It's a very bright future for us here without a doubt. I'm excited to keep working with these guys because we can be a special football team.
RUNNING BACK PHILLIP LINDSAY
On his performance in his first game back, and the offense as a whole
"I feel like I've got to get some rust off. I think that it was a shock to my body, being out month, a month and a half, and then going in there and getting hit like that. I've got to clean up a lot of things. But yeah, my offensive line did a great job. They protected me and they got me going. I'm proud of them. As a team now and as an offense, in a way, it's embarrassing not to get a touchdown when you're right there. That's something that we need to go back now. Last game against the Jets, we scored a lot of touchdowns. This game we didn't. That's something that we need to be consistent on. We need to go back to work on it."
On how the team responded to having their schedule adjusted, and if that motivated them coming into today's game
"Definitely. I think that we were kind of mad. I think that we were kind of like, 'We just want to play.' We were going into a game that both of us were at a disadvantage because of the COVID thing, but we came in with a good game plan and we stuck with it. We got the job done and that's all that matters right now."
On Running Backs Coach Curtis Modkins being award a game ball
"[Modkins] deserves it. It sucks he hasn't gotten to be here, he's going through a lot of stuff with his family with COVID. He prepares us every day and every game the same way. Whether it's Melvin, whether it's me, whether it's Royce [Freeman], he goes at us the same. He's really disciplined about what we do and he's really detailed. It sucks that he didn't get to come here today, but I know definitely that he was cussing up a DB a couple times and trying to get us going. He deserves it. He's been through a lot."
On the confidence QB Drew Lock brings to the offense
"He's explosive. He has that confidence and that swagger, and it's contagious. I think he's going to only get better. It's his first time back, and he's going to continue to grow with us, and all of us have just got to get on the same page."
KICKER BRANDON MCMANUS
On if he feels this was one of the best games of his career
"Yeah, I'd say it has to be up there. It's up there with that Pittsburgh Divisional Round game. The conditions in that game were definitely more difficult than today, it was super windy in that Pittsburgh game. I don't believe I had two 50-yarders, I don't remember. I know I had a lot of long kicks in that game. But this was definitely a special one. Especially for me coming back here, it's been seven years since I came back in 2014. This kind of started the run, I guess, when the Broncos cut me. I hit a 41-yarder off the right upright, then a week or two later after the Dolphins game they ended up cutting me. This place is special for me to kind of come back and perform like that. It's always difficult to kick here in a stadium like this."
On how badly he wanted to attempt the 57-yard field goal in the fourth quarter
"About zero percent. To me, I've made one kick 57 yards and over. You've got to play the percentages. We're up two scores. Obviously I'm kicking well, I kicked well last game with long kicks, and this game. But I think, to me, I've been a football fan, growing up as a kid, I like to play the percentages to win. If I miss that, they get the ball at midfield and definitely the momentum. I really wasn't itching at all to go out there. Obviously if I got the call to go out there, I'd have put my best foot forward and try to make it. But I wasn't itching at all, to be honest with you."
On if he feels this team is starting to 'turn the corner'
"Yeah, I think it was definitely different. The energy on the sideline even after that last interception (inaudible). A lot of times, it hasn't been like this. We're on the wrong side like, 'Here we go again. Jeez, in Denver, we can't ever play with a lead and finish it.' But there was an energy, there was such a flying-around from the defense. They kind of took that challenge on themselves, kind of like I did today. They wanted to step up and make a play. People were flying around at the end of the game. Obviously as a spectator and someone on the sideline, it was awesome to see. Everyone was pretty pumped about the way that they were flying around at the end, and it helped us win the game."
On being called a 'legend' by QB Drew Lock
"This is Drew's second year in the league. He's got a lot to learn. There are a lot of legends before me. Obviously it's a great compliment from him, but obviously I want to continue playing well and kicking well, and giving us a chance to win. Obviously that's the key whenever I'm out there on the field. Whatever distance it is and wherever I'm at, I have the utmost confidence in myself to make the kicks. It's great for Drew to say that, but I know there's still a lot of work to go and a lot of season left to continue trying to have my best season of my career."
On how he feels the team reacted to the long break between games and uncertainty of the last few weeks
"I think it's been 18 days since we played a game. Obviously there was some frustration when the game got postponed last time. To me, it's important for the players--obviously as the union rep--health and safety is key. But I see what these guys do day in and day out, and I want them to get paid for that. If we don't play in these games, even though we're just practicing, they're not going to see paychecks that their families rely on. Obviously, I think we did a great job as a team over these past 18 days, battling through it and not getting too complacent with seeing the same game film. I don't do any film really so it's pretty easy for me, but these guys, they stayed locked in in the meetings even though they were going over the same stuff again. It was a testament to them, and I tip my hat to them."
On how he feels Head Coach Vic Fangio has handled the difficulties of the season so far
"Obviously he's done a good job, and I think the whole organization has done a great job. It starts from the top. 'Greek' (Director of Sports Medicine Steve Antonopulos) is our ICO, Infectious Control Officer, for running everything. We're all still learning about doing everything, about doing it the right way. We've been pretty fortunate so far with what we've been doing. [FB/TE] Andrew Beck and then [Running Backs Coach] Curtis Modkins [have tested positive for COVID-19]. Personally, in my opinion, we could probably do some stuff a little better with how we handle that situation. But as a whole organization, we've done pretty well with handling it. Obviously it's our first time dealing with anything like this. We're all getting thrown in a wrench. We travel, and now we have to do virtual meetings here on the road because now we're in kind of in a different protocol than we were before. All of us are doing it on the fly, and whatever team does that the best, definitely has the best chance to win on Sunday. There are always going to be 'hearsayers' and naysayers about certain things, but at the end of the day, the product you put on the field is what keeps you here in the league. We can say what we want about this and that, but your product you put on the field is what keeps you here and gets you paid. Those are my words of wisdom to all those young guys as well."
CORNERBACK MICHAEL OJEMUDIA
On his mental progression since the week 2 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers
"The mental aspect is just listening to your mentors and your tutors. So, taking the coaching, taking the advice from K Jack [S Kareem Jackson] and Justin [Simmons], and just rolling with it. That gives me confidence every week."
On his fumble recovery
"At first it was a bad play and bad coverage by me, but when there's an opportunity, you have to take it. I saw the ball was in the wrong hand, so I just went in for the kill."
On the week 2 matchup against the Steelers and telling the media he can and would be better
"It was that, I know what I can do. I knew I could play way better than I played that game [Steelers] so, it's just giving myself confidence that what I put on tape, that wasn't me and I can definitely build from that."
On K Brandon McManus
"It's definitely his confidence because from the 50 [yard line] we know he's going to put that thing in. That's three points for us so anywhere on the field we're confident he's going to put it in because he's done it in practice."
On calling a safety blitz on the last offensive play for the Patriots
"We just kind of new that [the play] this was it; this was the play. It's an all-out blitz and we have to cover for about three seconds. Thanks to Vic [Fangio] for having the trust in us to cover our guys for that. That definitely takes some guts and we appreciate that call."
On a new defensive identity forming around aggression
"Just like you saw today, we are preaching turnovers and we are preaching getting guys to the quarterback. This is definitely an aggressive defense and it's one that we've preached from day one. You've seen it from us from day one and we just believe in ourselves. It's definitely a defense that really aggressive and looking to make as many turnovers as possible."
On what the veteran players tell him during the game
"The biggest thing that K Jack [S Kareem Jackson] tells me is just to be smart and play within yourself because it's a long game. You always have to be tough and play within the game because the game always moves a certain way. During the week, Vic [Fangio] pulled me over and told me, 'have fun out there and be relaxed. Be the guy we drafted', and that just shows that he trusts me."
SAFETY JUSTIN SIMMONS
On getting his first career fumble recovery
"It was great. It felt really good. Getting a ball is getting a ball. Interceptions are great, so are fumble recoveries. I'm still working on forcing fumbles."
On the confidence that QB Drew Lock gives the team
"Drew is great. Last year when he had that five-game stint and then even this offseason a little bit—Drew just has that swag factor and that it factor where you can just believe in a guy like him when he's out there. He was playing great all day, I thought he made a lot of great throws. I know there's a lot of times where guys wish they would have held onto the ball for him there, but I thought he played great. You're going to make some mistakes, things like that happen. But we know that we can trust him and in today's game the defense had to go out there and close things out a couple times. There may be games in the future where our offense has to go and close things out for us. It was a great team win today."
On the confidence level in the defense on the Patriots last drive
"The confidence was at an all time high. There was no reason not to be confident. All game long we were doing such a great job stopping the run, challenging in the pass game, and guys were winning their one-on-ones. When we were out there you could tell because they ran a couple trick plays to move the ball—I think it was like three series in a row where they ran trick plays to get some chunk yards and get them in position. We just kept harping, 'Do what we do, do what we do and attack,' and guys were a little fatigued but we just had to finish the game. We knew that it was going to come down to that and I was really proud of the way that we finished as a defense."
On what has impressed him the most about CB Michael Ojemudia's play since his rough performance in week two against Pittsburgh
"We knew he had it in him. We've been practicing with him and we've seen it in training camp and we see the type of capability that he has in practice week in and week out. I think that's just how the league goes. One game there's always an overreaction or things of that nature, but that's just the league. Guys have great weeks week in and week out, so it just happened to OJ in the Steelers game—they made a couple plays on him--but he's the type of guy that's going to bounce back and we've seen that since then. He's always in tight coverage and that's a good thing when you're a corner—being in tight coverage and making plays on the football. We see the type of capability that he has and he's only going to keep growing from here. I'm proud of him and the way he played and battled."
On the double safety blitz on fourth down that Head Coach Vic Fangio put in specifically for this game
"That's very Vic-esque. I remember the Browns game last year at home he called a safety blitz and we hadn't called it the whole game, but we had worked on it so much throughout the week. He's the type of guy that just has a great feel for the game in terms of play calling and he just felt it was the right time to call it. We obviously had never called it before and it's just a lot of trust in the players to go out there and execute it. [S] Kareem [Jackson] and I were sent on the blitz and it was just well executed around the board."
On the defense having game-saving stops in back-to-back games
"It's huge. Like I said, when we played the Jets we had no turnovers defensively. They were plus three in the turnover battle and we still found a way to win, so that gives a lot of confidence to our offense and our defense. Even though we didn't get the ball we found a way to win and even though we turned it over three times we still put up 37 points and found a way to win. It's all about momentum and riding that wave. Even though it's been two weeks since we've played, we come out here in Foxborough in this tough environment—regardless of if there's fans or not—and find a way to win. Coming out here and finding a way to get turnovers and our offense moving the ball down the field, you just ride that type of momentum. I was just really proud of the way that we battled. I felt like we were very physical this game on both sides of the ball, running the football, and winning our one-on-one matchups."
On what DE Shelby Harris brings to the defense and the team as a whole
"I think a lot of this defense is made up of guys where you never know when your number is going to be called in terms of making a play, but when your number is called you can always rely on that person to make it, and Shelby is one of those guys. I think you can never just look at the stat sheet and say, 'Oh, he was effective. He was ineffective.' I think Shelby is a guy who when he's in there, he's effective. It doesn't matter if the numbers add up or whatever the case may be, I just know that when he's in there he makes stuff happen. That's the type of guy that you want on your team. A guy like Shelby to lead you. A guy like [NT] Mike [Purcell] to lead you. I could go all the way across the board from d-line to linebackers to the back end. Shelby has been a really solid foundation for us in that defense."
On if he feels like Fangio is being more aggressive with his blitz calls
"I've come to find that Vic has such a good grasp of the game that nine times out of ten when he makes a call it always feels like it's the right call at the right time. I think he found the rhythm of the game and called more blitzes and we found it to be effective. Sometimes speeding up the quarterback is a thing in and of itself where it gets them out of the rhythm of finding their receivers in the passing game. Like I said, he can call as great of a game as he wants but the guys have to be able to make the plays in that defense that he calls. I thought across the board, [CB] OJ [Ojemudia], [CB] Bryce [Callahan], [S] Kareem [Jackson], myself, the linebackers—I thought we were great in coverage all day today and they did a great job."