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What We Learned From the Coordinators on Wednesday

Co-Offensive Coordinator Brad Childress and Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton spoke with the media on Wednesday afternoon

Co-Offensive Coordinator Brad Childress

Q: We talked earlier this season coming off of the bye going into the Oakland week, one of the things you had said was the offense was a little out of whack, maybe throwing a little too much and not running enough, do you still feel that way?

CHILDRESS: "I don't feel like we're completely in sync right now. I wouldn't necessarily put it to the disparity between run and pass. I thought we found a pretty good groove against Oakland. The season's a long season, I think you see yourself cycle in and cycle out of things. We're battling to be better on offense right now."

Q: I understand game conditions can have a lot to do with it, but is there a good ratio, pass to run, that works for you guys?

CHILDRESS: "You always say you'd like to be 50/50, but if you're 50/50 you're probably awful at both. Right now we're about a 60/40 and that's where we've been served the best around that area, 60/40 pass to run, that's usually what we end up with in this offense."

Q: What do you want to see from your offense in primetime?

CHILDRESS: "The same thing I always want to see. I'd like to see us possess the football, like us to be physical – being able to run it, being able to protect the quarterback and obviously against a very good secondary get open and make some plays up the field."

Q: Can you talk about their defense, what is it that makes them so dangerous and what is it that your offense should be concerned with?

CHILDRESS: "It's rush and coverage. It starts with the rush because they make you get the ball out of your hand fast. I heard somebody just ask a question about how fast can we get the ball out of our hand, that's where it serves us well. Obviously your decision making is sped up when you're throwing a football with two premium rushers off the edge. They do a decent job of pushing in the middle and then for the times that maybe they don't get there as fast as they want, they've got a good coverage element in the backend. I think you'll see [Aqib] Talib back this week, I think Derek Wolfe is back inside with that inside push there. There nickel guy is very good. Obviously both corners are good, T.J. Ward we had in Cleveland when I was there. He's a big thumper. Rush and coverage, you don't have to cover that long if you can get there with the rush."

Q: Is Von Miller the guy that you watch?

CHILDRESS: He can be a game-wrecker if you allow him to be. He'll take a turn with everybody. He won't just be lined up over the right tackle, he's going to spot in there and rush inside sometimes over our guards, then the next time we'll see him on the left side rushing over the left tackle. He pretty much has a green light, a lot like how [the Houston Texans] use J.J. Watt, you know they'll bounce him along the line so you don't see the same face line up in front of you all the time.

Q: Last year Alex Smith was one of the most lethal quarterbacks in the league on third down [on his run game], what's changed?

CHILDRESS: "Just probably the looks, because as a quarterback, and Alex has the gift to be able to hurt you with his feet, you don't want a quarterback mentality to be back there as a run first guy, pull it down and run. I think they've done a nice job of closing up some of those rush lanes. In a couple of cases there's been somebody standing on the other side accounting for him, but we want him to be a thrower first. I think he's done a good job of that. He's certainly not afraid to pull it down as you saw with that touchdown. When it opens up he's going to take it. We haven't seen as many of those giant creases, whether people are gaming us more, that could be what they're doing to stop it."

Q: Is there a way for you to manufacture that as an offense to try and create more opportunities for him?

CHILDRESS: We have some designed quarterback runs, but I wouldn't say we put all our eggs in that basket. We just let him do the things that he does in the passing game and if it happens, it happens. He's certainly aware of down and distance, he's certainly aware of when defenders put their back to him and they're all up the field and he has an opportunity to hurt him with his feet.

Q: Why is it important to stay balanced against this defense?

CHILDRESS: If you become one-dimensional, if it turns into a pass-pass game, then that's something they can break you down with. I think you have to try - just like they try to do - you have to be able to run the football on them and run it effectively so that you can stay ahead of the sticks.

Q: What do you see in Chris Harris Jr.?

CHILDRESS: Chris Harris Jr. is a very good player and it's demonstrated with him as a starter at the corner position, but not everybody can play in the nickel and play inside in the slot. He's every bit as effective in there as he is on the outside. I wouldn't be surprised to see him track one of our better receivers around the field.

Q: When a defense is playing as much man coverage as they do, does it come down to the quarterback just making throws?

CHILDRESS: It doesn't so much come down to the quarterback. When they're playing man coverage, typically they're rushing five guys or more. So number one, you have to protect the quarterback, number two, you have to be able to win one-on-ones down the field when they play man coverage. By nature, man is one-on-one. They're doing some of that, they're hanging some people – some lurk guys – around this year in the middle. So straight man beaters aren't going to be quite good enough.

Q: The third downs and goal-to-go situations you haven't been very good this year. What do you think has gone wrong in those situations?

CHILDRESS: We looked at those back over the bye – back when we weren't quite where we are right now – it's one guy here and it's one guy there. I wouldn't tell you that cumulatively we see this and this is what's wrong in that situation. Shoot, you love being second in one-on-one. We weren't able to pull that one off. That's not the only one, there's been numbers of other ones. A formula, if you want to get beat in this league, is not getting seven points when you're down there and that's important for us to do.  

Q: What's your confidence that the issues you've had the past couple games are fixable?  

CHILDRESS: This is a great, willing group of guys. They know where we're at offensively, they have the ability to beat anybody in this league that we play when we play good on offense and we've demonstrated that in the past.

Q: Looking back on it, are there games where you feel you gave up on the run too early?

CHILDRESS: We haven't really had that discussion. There's games that get left-handed by way of the score – like the Steelers game. Then you don't ever look back and just do whatever you can to be able to win. Us having to get into the two-minute [offense], two scores down late in the fourth quarter.

Q: What kind of problems will Shane Ray pose for you guys?

CHILDRESS: Shane could be their most improved player on that side of the ball. They freely insert both groups of outside linebackers to rush, so you may see on the third play of the game – not necessarily their starters – but you may see Shane Ray and McCray coming off the edges. So they have great confidence in those guys and Shane has added a little bit to his arsenal in terms of his speed rush, his ability to spin and come inside as well as setting the edge in the run game. 

Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton

Q: How can anybody prepare for the thin air [in Denver]?

SUTTON: I really don't think you can. I know there's no way physically to prepare. I think it takes over 30 days to acclimate so I don't I don't think we're going to have a schedule where they give us 30 days – might have to appeal that to the NFL. But I don't know. We played out there last year and did fine. I really don't think about it.

Q: Do you have to rotate more guys in [because of the climate]?

SUTTON: No, we really haven't. We have some rotations going on anyway, but if somebody is getting winded – whether it's here in Kansas City or out there – we obviously would take their input and get somebody fresh in there for a while. I honestly have not spent a lot of time talking about it or thinking about it.

Q: What do you see in Trevor Siemian?

SUTTON: He's done a really good job. I think this is offensively closer to coach [Gary] Kubiak's system. The way they run and they're not doing Peyton [Manning's] no huddle, all that stuff. So I think it's fallen more on the system that they're used to and they're still doing a great job of playing as a team and trying to win as a team. I think they have that figured out pretty good. So I think Trevor has come in and done a really good job. He's an accurate quarterback. I think he can do what they're asking him to do very well. He's got enough mobility to do the bootlegs that coach likes and he can get out of trouble enough. He appears to me as a really sharp guy on the field and seems to make good decisions for a guy that hadn't played a lot until this year. So we'll really have to come after him and do a great job on him. You know he's blessed with some really good players around him – the two wide outs are the real deal and I think [Devontae] Booker has really come on as a back. He's got some stuff to him.  

Q: What are your thoughts on what Justin Houston did?

SUTTON: "I thought he did okay. I really did. He's only going to get better with more reps and kind of what we talked about last week and you've probably spoken to him, but I think the number one thing is your reaction time becomes faster and quicker the more you're out there and the more you experience it. There's nothing that he hasn't already seen in his career as a pro football player, it isn't that, it's just the ability to hit those things and accelerate and do all those things that he probably wants to do and maybe can't do them quite as fast as you normally do. That's going to happen to any player that hasn't practiced, that had to sit, he's going from completely shut down to full play. That's a big jump. I thought overall he did a good job, managed the game from himself, from his own standpoint pretty good – hey I need a break, I need this. He did a good job and I think you're going to see Justin get better and better."

Q: Was that the plan for him? He played more than half of the snaps.

SUTTON: "Yeah we were just going to let him play until he said that he needed a break. We did that with EB when he came back. Those guys know if they do anything, sometimes they might error on the fact that they don't want to come off the field, so we have to watch that a little bit, but he's a pro and he understands what we're doing and how important it is and also the fact that there's still a lot of football to be played."

Q: How much does the defense change when Marcus Peters isn't out there?

SUTTON: "I always say this, we'd like to have our full complement of players. Anytime we could that'd be awesome. He's invested a lot of time, we've invested a lot of time, so when you lose a guy like that, whoever that is, there's a lot of investment going on there. At the same time, the other way that we think of it is the team on the field is the team and there are no breaks for you not being the first guy up. You've got to perform like a first team player, that's why you're on this team. That's what you train for, that's what you drill for and when your chance comes you've got to perform like that. Like I said, we don't pull back or say hey we can't do this. We're going to do that and guys have got to step up and play. We'd love to have them all. Three weeks ago we would have loved to have Justin [Houston]. It is what it is and you just play."

Q: But it is inherent that offenses are going to play you differently depending on the personnel that you put out there.

SUTTON: "Sure, but we can't cancel. We can't completely change our system, so we adjust and tilt to do certain things if somebody is hurting us and like that. We just have to play hard and fight through and everybody has to play a little better and you just have to go like that."

Q: With all the things Denver does, with the bootlegs and things like that, how on point do guys have to be with their responsibilities?

SUTTON: Coach Kubiak has had a system in this league for a long time in a lot of different places and he's been successful wherever he's been at with that system. Obviously, they won the world championship last year with it. It's a really well honed, good system driven on great principles. It has great balance in the run and pass. Obviously, the run fakes and the play actions and the boots are well orchestrated and challenge the defense in our regard. So it's just one of those games where you have to play really well and you have to keep playing every play out. In the zone system if one player gets out of whack, then there's some cracks in your defense so you have to keep fighting. The back side people are as important as the front side people and then you have to respond to the boots and all those things. But that's part of football and we look forward to the challenge – it's a great challenge.

Q: What's your impression of Demaryius Thomas?

SUTTON: He's good. He's a great player and has great skill down the field. He can go up and get a football – he's a big guy. I think another thing their receivers do a tremendous job of is blocking. They do a great job of that. He does it, #10 does it and they all do it. He's a really good football player and those two guys on the outside are challenging because they're equal in what they can do to you. Big challenge [facing] him.

Q: Is [Matt] Paradis kind of the key up front for those guys?

SUTTON: I think their system and the way they run it – and all offensive line play is contingent on working together – but their system, where you're zone blocking every play and working in unison – that's the one they do and that's the pressure that they put on a defense. It's a really good system and one that he's had a lot of success with. 

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