Broncos remain humble as schedule gets tougher
AP Sports Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colorado – Fans waiting for Josh McDaniels to say “I told you so” likely will be disappointed.
The Denver Broncos’ new coach answered his critics with a 3-0 start, and he’s disregarding all the accolades now coming his team’s way.
It’s the same approach he took in the offseason when he brushed off criticism that he was an arrogant, baby-faced know-it-all who didn’t know what he was doing by trading Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler.
Although notions of the Broncos’ chances this season are improving with each win, McDaniels is mindful that the meat of the schedule is coming up.
“What we have, how we’ve practiced, what we’ve assembled here and the way we go about our business has never changed. And we feel good about that,” McDaniels said Monday. “We’ve always had confidence regardless of anybody else’s opinion. I said yesterday it doesn’t really matter what anybody else thinks, all that matters is what we think.
“We still have a long way to go, a lot of work to do and a lot of improvements to make to be where we want to be. So, we know where we’re at. We’re glad we’re 3-0, but a lot of work to do still.”
After beating Cincinnati, Cleveland and Oakland, things get decidedly tougher for Denver starting next week with the Dallas Cowboys. Then, it’s the Patriots, followed by a trip to San Diego, the prohibitive AFC West favorite.
After the Broncos’ bye, the next month includes visits from Pittsburgh, San Diego and the New York Giants and a trip to Baltimore.
And McDaniels knows there’s lots of room for improvement.
So what was his plan Monday to keep his team from getting overconfident after trouncing the Oakland Raiders 23-3?
“Just show them the film,” McDaniels said. “We’ve got a 50-play cutup that we’re going to watch during the squad meeting, and it’s not all bows and ribbons.”
One thing that stuck out from the Raiders game, McDaniels said, was shaky special teams play.
“We’re going to work on field goal protection Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and they’ll understand how important that is,” he said.
Although he’s loathe to say anything surprises him, McDaniels conceded the rebuilt defense, which is allowing a league-low 5.3 points per game, has come together with eight new starters faster than expected.
“I don’t think you anticipate only giving up one touchdown in 180 minutes of football,” McDaniels said. “But we thought we had a chance to be a pretty good defense, physical up front, good secondary, tackled fairly well here in the first three weeks of the season.”
Denver’s defensive turnaround has been key, especially because quarterback Kyle Orton is managing the games so well, not taking any unnecessary chances, throwing away passes when he’s under pressure and checking out of pass plays and into backbreaking runs at just the right time.
He won Sunday, despite throwing for just 157 yards.
Over the last two years, the Broncos spent September getting steamrolled in the running game. Not anymore. One reason, suggest some players, is they spent most of this summer in full pads a year after former coach Mike Shanahan put them in pads for a single goal-line drill at a single training camp practice.
That physical, conditioned culture could help them turn even more heads during this upcoming stretch of physical, rugged teams.
“I think that our football team has developed a physical mentality,” McDaniels said. “They play hard for 60 minutes.”