ML: “I thought yesterday that our crowd and fans were outstanding. I didn’t say anything about it last night, but I think it’s been a great thing to have, and obviously it would be great for this week again. But they’ve really come out and were loud, and it’s had an effect. Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten it done for them, and that’s the disappointing thing. But they’ve been into it, and it plays a big part when you have the advantage of playing at home. We’ve got to take more advantage and finish the game out.
“When you look at the football game, the penalties in the fourth quarter ended up being very significant. We had four penalties in the fourth quarter that really made an impact, if not five. They had a big effect.
“Offensively, there was the key of, ‘Are you able to run the ball directly at them?’ We did good things that way, but we need to be consistent with it. We had some positive third downs. Penalties made them even harder, but we did make some plays after that. We have to continue to get better pockets, but Andy (Dalton) a couple times did avoid (pressure) and made plays out of the pocket. We’ve got to continue to do that.
“Defensively, it was kind of the converse – we didn’t get enough four-man pressure on the quarterback or get balls batted in the air. We had the two takeaways, but we need to get some balls batted in the air. Throwing the ball underneath as they (the Broncos) do, you look to have some opportunity that way. We contested most of the throws, but you look to have some opportunity with the batted balls. One of the things that they had done in recent games pretty well was run the football, and we did a good job, other than two runs late in the game, of taking care of that. So we have to be just as diligent in every way, that way. Obviously an area that was disappointing was the kickoff return for a touchdown. And then our inability to score with ours when we had some big returns and didn’t finish them. Lastly, get some things going in the punt return game. Where we thought we’d have some opportunity to make some hay, we didn’t get it done.”
I know you can’t speak much about penalties after the fact, but were any of the penalties called yesterday flagrant?
ML: “I think one of the holds we got yesterday was a legitimate call. We have to do a better job of getting into better position so that those things don’t occur.”
ML: “I thought the deep ball to A.J. (Green) should have, no question, been pass interference. The ball was in the air. From what everybody has told me about the pass interference call from the TV replay, we grabbed the receiver a little bit early. I think the receiver was moving for position, and I guess his (Jones’) hand was up and grabbed him. I haven’t watched the TV copy (of the game). But that’s what was called. That’s the thing, it’s a tight game and you see that all the time. In that football game last night (Atlanta vs. Dallas), the doggone receiver nearly takes the jersey off the cornerback and doesn’t get a call. Conversely, if that happens the other way it gets called. But you’ve got to get in position. Those are tough plays, when the ball is up in the air like that. Adam was in very good position – he was on top of the receiver, and you’ve just got to find a way to stay on top, because he pushed back through.”
Isn’t the rule that if the ball is out of the quarterback’s hand, it’s pass interference, and if it isn’t out, it’s holding?
The ball was out of the quarterback’s hand on both occasions, right?
That’s 20-plus yards that you lost out on:
ML: “It’s over. We’ve got to do much better.”
Other than the penalties, the other play that seemed to hurt you was the third-down completion to Eric Decker, where he broke a few tackles and ran for 30-plus yards:
ML: “Right. We’ve got to make the tackle. We’ve got three people in position to make the play, and we’ve got to make the tackle. That ends up being a play that was very similar to two plays later with the interference penalty that gets the ball down there on the one-yard line. You’ve got to keep making plays and make them go the length of the field, and you’ll get more of an opportunity to make plays, rather than giving up that chunk 30-yard gain.”
How do you assess the play of LB
ML: “I thought Emmanuel did some good things. He was involved in a lot of plays and got his hands on the ball. He did what we expected him to do.”
One of the times that you did get pressure on Peyton Manning was with
ML: “A couple times we got our hands on him as he was releasing the ball. We know he’s going to release the ball if he has a guy open. He does an incredible job of pocket presence and finding the wide receiver. But you want to get more pressure and at least get the ball in the air, because a lot of those throws are coming in at seven, eight, 10 yards. You’re looking for opportunities to get your hands on the ball. The ball’s not going vertical very often.”
You’ve said before that you have a lot of plays where 10 guys are doing the right thing and one guy isn’t. Was that the case for the Denver TD on the kickoff return, or was that just a breakdown in the coverage unit as a whole?
ML: “We had some guys break down. We did a nice job of getting the play aborted from their part, and their player made a good cut. We’ve got to get off blocks. That’s the key to playing against a smallish returner like that – get off blocks and get opportunity to make a tackle. He’s a good cut-runner and we don’t get off blocks and in good enough spots. We kind of got tugged a little on the backside a little bit, but we’ve got to get there and make the play.”
ML: “Yeah. They were well-executed and well-blocked. Brandon hits it hard. We’ve just got to keep working, and we’ll pluck those through there. He’s got to trust his speed once in a while and continue to go and make them miss an open-field tackle. He ran through the one tackle, and he’s got to consistently do that and make their specialist make an open-field tackle. Don’t cut back into the pursuit.”
People have been waiting for
ML: “Jermaine has had a lot of big games so far this season. He keeps playing well. He did a good job yesterday; he made some important catches. Unfortunately he had the one drop, which we’ve got to eliminate – we seem to come up with one of those every week. We’ve got to work hard to eliminate that. He’s just trying to run with the ball before he’s got it. But he keeps growing. He’s got a lot of ability, and we’re counting on him to do great things.”
You challenged some players last week regarding leadership. Have you seen a return from that, and do you expect more of that this week, leading up to the Giants game?
In respect to the pressure applied by Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, was there any thought to chip in to help block, or was it a case more of a case of
ML: “There’s variable things you’ve got to do in protection. We chipped some. We’ve got to do different things with the protection. We did a pretty good job of executing it in the first half, but we’ve got to keep being consistent with it all throughout. And certainly when the game is on the line, we’ve got to give the quarterback an opportunity to deliver the ball and have clean pockets.”
ML: “He did OK. He’s done a good job. Every chance he gets to play, he does a good job.”
ML: “We moved our guys around a little bit to get what we thought were the best matchups we could, as far as their personnel. Chris did well yesterday in things. This will be a different week, so we’ll see how we go this week with things. But we do have some flexibility and some guys that are competing to play. We want to keep making sure we try to get the best combination of guys back there to give us an opportunity to win.”
ML: “Yeah, it created a spot for J.K to come to the practice squad. He’ll be with us, beginning this week.”
What did you like about him when you saw him?
ML: “He was a productive player at UC (University of Cincinnati). He has a good opportunity to develop as an NFL linebacker. Let’s see how good he can get and be, but he’s a good guy to have in the program and begin to train. He’s a smart kid, and a guy that played tough and physical. You never know until you start being around the guy and the coaches coaching him, but it seems like he has a lot of the traits you’re looking for.”
Denver’s offensive line has been very good lately in pass protection. Are you still as disappointed in the inability to get pressure with your front four, considering how good that line is at pass protection?
ML: “You have conversion off of the play-passes. That’s the one thing that we really sold our guys on – we’re going to have to defend the run this week. They knocked New Orleans around pretty good a week ago. The team they played before that, San Diego, they knocked them around pretty good for bits pieces of that game. We knew it was going to be important.
“It was important that we did a good job of staying gapped and not ‘arm-over’ and get up the field and open up big running seams. So you’ve got to take that next level into the conversion. They do some things that protect him a little bit more at times, to keep him to have the ability to scan the field like they do. That’s the one part of it, too. When we get on a tight end like that and have opportunity, we have to get better pressure. But again, when you lose, you’re not satisfied with much that you do. We’ve got to do some better things, and one of the things that would have helped us in that game yesterday is, based on all of those throws coming so shallow, get somebody in his face and get your hands up to get some of those balls tipped or batted into the air.”
Peyton Manning is 6-foot-5 – does that make it tough to knock down passes at the line?
ML: “He's throwing the ball downhill a lot. But we've got some guys that can get in his face. They've had some tipped balls in some of their games, and that's what you look for against that offense. If he can help it, he's not going to take the hit, he's going to move away from the pressure. He moved outside the pocket when we went underneath – he went outside the pocket and he does what he does. And you've got to have the next guy scraping and getting in his face. When you do that, you have an opportunity to be flashing at the ball and you've got more chances.”
Newman’s first interception was the first INT by a corner this season. Is there anything you can put your finger on as to why it’s taken so long?
ML: “No. I think you'll probably find that interceptions are somewhat down across the league. But you just have to keep doing it and getting some balls batted in the air, and get some of the easy ones that we're not getting.”
In terms of consistency, did the running game take a step forward yesterday?
ML: “In some of the things we were doing, yes. We knew that was a fast defense and you had to create opportunities to run the football outside a little bit. We ran the ball interiorly pretty well, four to five yards. We had a couple of gains where it was only one or two, but mostly it was four- or five-yard gains throughout, and if you do that, you're going to feel pretty good about it. But we're still not breaking the big run, we're not breaking the 15-, 20-, 25-yard run, and we've got to do that. And in order to do that, you've got to continue to block well at wide receiver. We had some progressive points that way. We've got to keep it up.”
Your run defense seemed to hold up well, until a few runs at the end of the game:
ML: “It was the two runs at the end of the game – the 10-yard run on the outside and the trap in there, and then the run off the pressure there on third down, then they got the ball down for the last touchdown. The two largest runs were in the same drive. Again, we've just got to be consistent. In both of those cases, we don't play them as well as we'd played those particular plays. When we're in the pressure and we're in the base defense, we've got to play the runs the same all the time.”
ML: “We got some opportunity, but we didn't make as many plays at you'd like. We kind of got run into on a deep ball wide open and some of those things. So that's what I told them today: You have to keep going. You've got to run. If you're getting contact or held or whatever down the field, you have to run through it or else you're going to get locked down. And that stays consistent with that. We just have to keep going. They have to be more precise. If the read takes Andy over to that side, then they've got to be free and be able to make a football play, make a big catch. But the tight end and A.J. did good things yesterday with their opportunity.”