“Good morning guys. The injuries today; [T Joe] Staley will have his usual vet day, [C/G Weston] Richburg is resting his knee. Limited; [OL] Laken [Tomlinson], hip contusion, [WR] Pierre [Garçon], knee, [LB] Malcolm [Smith], Achilles and out will be [RB Matt] Breida and [S Jaquiski] Tartt.”
Any roster moves today?
“Not today, no.”
The thought would be you would promote LB Pita Taumoepenu to take LB Dekoda Watson’s spot. Is that--?
“Most likely. I know we’re working out a number of practice squad guys. I can’t guarantee it, but that’s definitely what we’re leaning towards. We’ll see how these next two days go.”
Did you guys know last week that LS Kyle Nelson was in line to be suspended with all the long snappers you brought in?
What have you decided to do there?
“Who did we decide to sign? Sorry I thought that was out. [LS] Colin Holba.”
Is WR Marquise Goodwin practicing today?
“Yes, he is.”
What does having him back do for you guys offensively?
“We’ll see. I’m just happy that he’s doing better, good enough to be back in the building. I just got to see him a little bit in meetings today, so we’ll see him out at practice today and see where he’s at, how he looks, and we’ll decide as the week goes.”
RB Jeff Wilson Jr. ran extremely hard. Ran over some guys, obviously, fairly notably. That’s his first real extended action. Is that sustainable? Have you seen other rookies that come in and run like that and they figure out I’m not sure this is going to work out?
“No. That’s his style. That’s what got him an opportunity in this league. That’s what he does best. That’s why he’s going to make it. I hope he doesn’t lose that, for his and our sakes. He runs hard and that’s what he does good. Hopefully, we can keep him healthy and he keeps getting better and better.”
He caught, I think, eight of the nine passes that went his way. Was that impressive to you, that he was able to show soft hands?
“We planned on it going in, throwing some screens. I hope you can catch the screens, for the most part. But, he had a real impressive third down. I think it was the first third down of the game. It was versus man-to-man. He ran a five-yard in route versus some tight coverage. I thought that was a real impressive one. He did a good job on the screens, but I hope they can catch those.”
Did he show that from college film? Did he do much of that? How did you know that he was capable?
“Just having him in the building. We brought him here for his running ability. He wasn’t bad in the pass game, but that’s not what interested us. But, seeing him in practice and just working at it every day, he definitely is an option.”
Why move practice up this week, schedule-wise?
“Just to change it up. Sometimes, change can be good for the guys. It’s something that I really consider every four games, just the quarter of it. I haven’t done it here yet. I almost did it four games ago, but just the way the schedule fell, I think it was right at the Bye and the Thursday night game. So, I didn’t want to change the schedule up at that time. It’s always nicer when you can get the players out of here earlier. The negative is you’ve got to get them up earlier, which can be tough. Sometimes, you’ve got to yell a little bit more to make sure they’re attentive in the early meetings because they’re not all drinking as much coffee as the coaches are. It’s always nice for them to get out earlier, and it’s a lot nicer on the coaches, too, because we get started on the next day earlier, which helps us get fresher when we do it. Just makes the process move a little bit faster.”
You’ve already met this morning?
Did you yell?
“I had to yell to wake up a little bit. Guys get used to it. I usually see the guys at eight. Seeing them at seven, their eyes were a little bit lower than usual. They’ll get used to it and hopefully they’ll be fresher just getting out of here early, too.”
What’s the topic at this point in the season, coming off of that game, entering this game, that kind of makes you yell?
What’s the topic that kind of gets you going?
“Any topic. I’m not an actor. I react. I’m pretty natural. If I’m mad, you’ll see me mad, and if I’m not, you won’t. No, I didn’t yell at guys because I was mad. You come into a room that’s an hour earlier than usual and you can tell guys are trying. You recognize it and make them laugh about it and make them scared you’re going to call them out if you see them sleeping. So, you make sure guys work a lot harder to fight through it.”
What are your favorite memories from your time in Denver when your dad was coaching there?
“All of them. It was a great time. I moved there three different times. My whole life, I moved a lot. I never moved anywhere longer than four years, but I’ve always gone back to Denver. Moved to two different areas there, but that’s where all my friends were growing up. That’s where my wife is from. It was real special being a part, especially there in high school. I moved back there my freshman year of high school after leaving there in sixth grade. Just going through that run in high school, they won their first Super Bowl my senior year in high school, which was real neat. That was back when they didn’t have wireless cords. I was always the cord boy, holding my dad’s cords which got made fun of a lot for it, but it was neat to be up front and personal with everything. The last guy to hold cords for a coach in the Super Bowl was me, if you want a good trivia question. After that Green Bay Super Bowl, they went wireless the next year. I think they only won one more because they didn’t have as good of a cord-holder, is what I always tell my dad. But, no, that stuff was really fun and even though you’re not a part of it, you feel like it as a kid and just being close with everybody and all the players and coaches. I loved Colorado.”
You had a reported four-hour interview with the Broncos. Would that have been a difficult situation to be the head coach there, with the history of your dad there?
“Yeah, I don’t know. It was fun to interview there. I was definitely happy how it worked out. Definitely thought it was a much better situation for myself here, not that that was my choice or anything. It was neat to interview with some of those guys, guys like [Denver Broncos president of football operations/general manager] John Elway and [Denver Broncos president and CEO] Joe Ellis, guys that knew me. They think they know me real well, and I knew them, but we knew each other as when I was a high school kid. I used to go to John’s house for Thanksgiving all the time when I was five, six, seven. My dad was a quarterback coach. Then, to see him 15 years later when I’m a little different, hopefully, than I was then. It was neat for us to spend some time together. I’d like to say I made the decision pretty hard on them. I’d like to think that. I didn’t think I had much chance before. I definitely am happy where I am, and I think it’s definitely a better situation not being there with my dad. Also, that’s my wife’s home. That’s my home. I enjoy going back there to visit, but I like living where I’m at.”
When you got the phone call from them, were you expecting to hear what they said?
“Yeah, I was. I know a lot of people thought it, but I definitely never did. I was surprised that it got close.”
A gut feeling or just what people were telling you?
“Just gut feeling. Just knowing the situation and just where they were at, where I was at. I never thought it was going to happen. I knew there was a small chance, but I never was surprised that it didn’t.”
Your dad has been mentioned, at least his name has been mentioned in conjunction with the Green Bay job. I don’t know whether it’s serious or not, but have you guys ever discussed that scenario where you would both be head coaches at the same time?
“Not really. We played against each other as coaches. I was a quarterback coach at Houston when I got to play him when he was in Denver. But, I didn’t know he was being mentioned. I know he’s retired. So, they’d have to convince him very hard to come out of retirement. But no, my dad and I talk football all the time. But, we don’t really talk like that.”
Has he mentioned anything about wanting to do it again or do you think that he’s very much in retirement?
“I think that window has passed for him. I think after what he went through in Washington, I think he still likes coaching and loves football. But, I think he would’ve been interested in maybe a very good situation, but wasn’t just going to do anything. I think as the years have passed, now I think he’s very content with where he’s at and enjoying life and being a real good grandpa and annoying the heck out of my mom.”
Does he annoy the heck out of you after games, going through games?
“He does the same thing to me that I did to him my entire life. No matter how busy he was, he had to make sure that he set some time aside to spend about 20 minutes to answer or return my phone call when I was in college so I could give him all the things that he did right and did wrong. He always took it. Now that I look back on it, he probably was watching film, halfway listening to me the whole time, or at least I thought he was. He does the same thing to me. I definitely listen to him more probably than he did to me because he definitely has a lot more knowledge than I did as a 16-year-old. But, having him as an asset is unbelievable. He’s always been one of my closest friends, but he’s such a good coach and knows it. He doesn’t work at it just because he’s trying to do something. He works at it because he enjoys it and he loves to watch it. Whether I talk to him about it or not, it’s something that he just does.”
Do you have an example of using him as an asset? Switching up the schedule, was that his idea? Anything like that that you’ve used the last two years that have come from him?
“Throwing me on the spot, I can’t think of anything specific. But, I’ve gotten my style from him, watching him my whole life. I’m definitely my own person. I think anybody would tell you that who knows both of us. I think us working together was great because it was my first time working with him and so I got to really learn how he saw football and he got to see how I was too because he didn’t really know what I knew except what I would annoy him with on the phone. Being able to be with each other was neat because you don’t hold much back when you’re family. So, sometimes he would tell me some things that I didn’t like to hear and I would tell him sometimes things he didn’t like to hear. It was very constructive that way because sometimes you battle but you both get better from it when you respect each other and you can be brutally honest. That’s why I think we helped each other a ton working together. I always want his opinion and he always has an opinion, but he gives it to me on everything.”
For an NFL head coach, you’re fairly open. Does your dad every say, “What are you doing?”
“No. People can call me open. I’m not open at all with stuff that I think matters. I’m not going to be open at all if I think it’s an advantage for someone. But, sometimes I just think that you get programmed to think that everything you can get screwed on and some things I think you can and some things I don’t think so. I don’t have a philosophy. I just try to answer what I hear and if I think it’s something I don’t want to be open on because I think it will hurt us, then you never are because that’s your responsibility is you don’t want to hurt your team. But, if you’re just doing it not to be open, I have a hard time not being myself so it’s a lot easier when I can just answer something naturally.”
QB Nick Mullens has started a quarter of the season. I know you’re not big into numbers, but his numbers are good, completion percentage is high, yards per attempt, quarterback rating. How much has he exceeded expectations for you?
“I knew it was a possibility because he’s very consistent in everything he does. He’s been in some easier situations than others. I think those first two games were not as challenging as the last two. I thought he played very well versus Oakland, but I knew we had a chance to. That doesn’t take anything away from him, I thought our team had a chance to and then he executed it perfectly. The Giants, he did some good things too. Tampa, I thought he took a little bit of a step back like everyone did. But, I was real impressed last week versus Seattle. Mainly, I knew how hard it would be for him, let alone any quarterback not being used to there and just the situation we were in. He got off to a rough start in the first quarter. But, I was really impressed how he rebounded after that. I think we all settled down a little bit after that first quarter and I thought he played three quarters of pretty good football.”
What do you think is the common thread is between you and your dad being able to identify and develop running backs at all levels?
“I think we know what we want to do. There’s a thousand ways to run the ball and there’s no right or wrong way. Every way has been successful. Some ways that have been successful, you get different personnel and it’s not successful. A lot of people just try a lot of things. I think growing up watching the Broncos over the years, all I saw was [former Denver Broncos RB] Terrell Davis and outside zone and stuff. So, that’s what I saw in football. But, I went to Tampa Bay, we didn’t do that at all for the two years I was there. I learned a lot of other stuff. I went to Houston after that, which we did do it, but we weren’t very successful at it. I think we were ranked 30th my last year there in the run. Then getting with my dad in Washington, it was neat because you expect to hear all of the secrets and stuff. It’s, ‘Alright, teach me. I’ve been watching, what are the secrets.’ You start to realize that there aren’t a ton of secrets. It’s commitment to something. It’s just being detailed in it, it’s working at it, just doing it over and over and getting good at it to where I saw it differently than him. But, we still saw the same run play but there are subtle differences because you see it a little bit different, you coach it a little bit different. But, I think the thing that we’ve learned is we know what we want and when you are consistent with that, you know what it takes to be good at it. So, you know what you’re looking for.”
What did you like most about Mullens’ performance against Seattle?
“That he rebounded. He played under a lot of duress in that game just with the noise, with the score, with the pass rush. To start out struggling and things not going right and to calm down, I thought he played a pretty good game.”
Do you think he has what it takes to become a starter in this league?
“I don’t know. Being a starter, he’s got command of the offense, I think the game’s not too big for him. But, I’m not going to go there yet.”
What’s your assessment of this Broncos team and what it’s going to take to maybe spoil their playoff hopes?
“It’s very similar to last week. They’re running the ball extremely well. They’re getting sacks on defense and they’re getting turnovers. So, that’s a very good winning formula. You look at our game last week, we lost turnovers three to zero. I think we had three yards a carry, I think they had six. You look at those three stats, it’s very tough to win. Now we’re playing a team that’s very similar to that, a team that likes to rush the quarterback, a team that gets turnovers and a team who runs the ball. So, it’s not the exact same as Seattle, but those methods on how they’ve been winning is. So, I really think it’s important that we run the ball better than them and that we get some turnovers and we protect the ball.”
Obviously pass rushers have always been a premium position. With the way the league is going now and you see the number of points that are put up where maybe one or two big plays by an edge rusher can change the game, do you think that emphasis is growing even more than it has in the past?
“No, I just think people talk about it more, it just gets more recognition. Pass rushers all the time change things. You look at the best defenses of all time, that I can remember. The Baltimore defense, they had a pass rush. You go to the Tampa Bay defense with [former NFL DE] Simeon Rice and [former NFL DT] Warren Sapp, they had a pass rush. You look at all of the teams that have gone to the Super Bowl based off of defenses, Seattle, they all do a pretty good job. You go back to the days that Indianapolis won it with [former NFL QB] Peyton [Manning]. What was their defense from when they played Tampa Two? They had [former NFL DE Dwight] Freeney and [former Indianapolis Colts DE Robert] Mathis on the edge, they had pass rush people. You can go to a ton of teams like that. The Chicago Bears when they got there. They didn’t have a great offense, but [former NFL DT] Tommie Harris was playing at a high level. They had the linebackers to play the zone, but they got to the quarterback too. So, I think it’s always been that way.”
Is that the one position maybe that can transform a defense more than any other, a dominant edge rusher?
“Yeah, I’d say a quarterback on offense and an edge rusher on defense. A quarterback can hide a lot of problems and so can a pass rush. You can do different things in coverage. You can be more aggressive. You can have some holes and some vulnerabilities that you can see as a coach and there’s lots of stuff you’d like to try versus some of these coverages. A lot of people will come in and draw it on the board and it’s like, ‘Man, that’s great. Have you watched the end zone copy yet? I know he’ll be open, but our guy’s helmet is going to be rolling on the ground by the time we try to throw it.’ So, it’s all those types of things that go into account and the more big plays you can try, no matter what happens, eventually if you get them off, you’re going to score some points and a pass rusher is going to eliminate all of that.”
With all of the success of your guys’ running backs throughout the year, how much of a testament is that to running backs coach Robert Turner Jr. and what every day impresses you most about working with him?
“Bobby has dedicated his life to being as good as he can be at studying and coaching running backs. I have more respect for Bobby Turner than anyone I’ve coached with. Every day he’s the same. He loves his guys. He works them, he holds them accountable. Anything you ask Bobby to do, he’s going to do his job and be very good at it. You don’t ever have to worry about Bobby. You might give him 30 running backs to look at in the draft and he’s going to look at 200. He doesn’t want to miss on anyone. I always feel very fortunate to be able to coach with Bobby and he’s helped us out a ton in that area.”