Plummeting Broncos out to regain their composure
AP Sports Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colorado – The Denver Broncos have lost four straight games and, now, their cool.
So, among the things they’re hoping to fix during their short week of preparation leading up to their game against the New York Giants (6-4) on Thanksgiving is their loss of composure.
Coach Josh McDaniels said the Broncos (6-4) need to channel their emotions in more positive ways.
“Like I said after the game, it’s an emotional sport, we have a lot of emotional players. I show a lot of emotion sometimes and I think we’ve just got to understand what’s good and what’s not good in terms of showing that and letting that out,” McDaniels said Tuesday.
While McDaniels addressed his players’ behavior against San Diego, he declined again to discuss his own actions in exchanging trash talk Sunday with some Chargers linebackers during warmups.
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After telling the Chargers defenders, “We own you,” McDaniels watched the main target of his taunt, Shaun Phillips, sweep around fill-in right tackle Tyler Polumbus to force Chris Simms to fumble away the ball on Denver’s first pass attempt.
The Chargers converted the takeaway into a touchdown and the Broncos fell apart, committing a rash of silly penalties and fighting among themselves during their 32-3 loss that knocked them out of first place in the AFC West.
The Broncos say everything is fine between running back Knowshon Moreno and wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who berated the rookie after his fumble at the goal line only to get shoved in the chest as he continued the smackdown on the sideline.
Neither player was in the locker room Tuesday during the only player availability this week.
Their teammates and coaches said the sideline spat was no longer an issue.
“We are on the same page,” tight end Daniel Graham said. “There were a lot of emotions out there. No one likes losing. Frustrations came out a little bit. This team will stick together. We are going to fight through this together.”
Instead of with each other.
Although McDaniels said his emotional team needs to keep its poise, he again refused to address his own trash-talking incident that critics suggest revealed some immaturity on the part of the 33-year-old rookie coach.
“I have no comment on that,” McDaniels said. “I’ve moved on to the Giants.”
One thing McDaniels did say was that frustration can’t continue to affect the team.
Among the Broncos’ nine penalties Sunday were two 15-yard personal fouls whistled on Marcus Thomas and Ronald Fields on extra points.
The Broncos have fallen apart in all phases over the last month as they’ve allowed 125, 173, 174 and 203 yards rushing, been outscored 77-17 in the second half and drawn 22 flags for 170 yards.
Their biggest concern is their run defense as teams have decided to just run it up the gut at the Broncos, who put together a patchwork defensive line in their transition to the 3-4 scheme while spending their pool of free agent money on upgrades in the secondary.
Vonnie Holliday said the problem is the players are vacating their gaps, and that lack of discipline has led to a loss of composure.
“It’s frustrating when you’re out there and you’re playing hard and things aren’t going your way and things like the personal fouls, the flags keep flying, the refs, every time you turn around, somebody’s jaw-jacking with the opponent,” said Holliday, a veteran who was signed in part to police these very things.
“It’s like, look, we can’t talk. Look at the scoreboard,” Holliday said. “That’s the kind of things we were trying to tell our guys: Look, we have to focus. That’s not working for us. We need to focus on playing the downs.”
But what about his own coach “jaw-jacking” with the opponent?
“Coach? Well, I didn’t know that,” Holliday said before giving a passionate defense of his boss.
“The thing about Josh is that he’s a very competitive guy, too. He’s right there in that fire with us. When we go out on that field, he’s right in it with us. Emotionally, he’s as charged as we are, and as a player you love that in your coach. He’s right there beside you. We’re elbow to elbow, feeling the same things, so I don’t think that’s a knock against the coach,” Holliday said.
“I think that’s great that as a coach he can do that. I’m sure it’s probably frowned upon or somebody’s going to say something bad about it. But as a player, I didn’t know that had happened, but I wish I had seen it. It might have gotten me going a little more.”
NOTES: QB Kyle Orton practiced Tuesday and expects to start against New York. RT Ryan Harris hopes to return from a foot injury that has sidelined him for three weeks.