|John Fox: Dan Koppen ‘did a fantastic job’ for us this season||02.21.13 at 11:13 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Dan Koppen was one of the final cuts for the Patriots prior to the start of the 2012 season, but the veteran center quickly found a home in Denver. And when the Broncos lost starting center J.D. Walton early in the year to a broken ankle, Koppen stepping in and served as the starter for the rest of the season.
On Thursday morning at the scouting combine, Broncos coach John Fox said they were “fortunate” to find someone like Koppen, who helped stabilize the Denver offensive line and provide a spark for a late-season run.
“We were really fortunate. I thought our personnel department did a terrific job,” Fox said when asked about Koppen. “Dan Koppen stepped right in like nothing ever happened, and he was a big reason we were able to go on that run. You have a guy waiting in the wings when J.D. got hurt, and we really didn’t drop off a lot when he stepped in. He did a fantastic job, and he’s a guy I have a lot of respect for.”
|Broncos coach John Fox: Patriots are ‘a very talented team’||10.01.12 at 4:29 pm ET|
Coming off a 37-6 win over the Raiders on Sunday, Broncos coach John Fox said Monday that Denver has turned the page and is on to the Patriots. Fox hopes the Broncos, who suffered a 45-10 playoff loss to New England last season at Gillette, are better prepared for this game than they were back in January.
“Well, that’s the plan. Time will tell,” Fox said. “It’s going to be a very tough game at their place. They’re a very talented team. They are good in all three phases. They just strung up 52 [points]. I think they had a 31-point fourth quarter.
“They’ve got a lot of firepower and they have a first-ballot Hall of Fame guy under center as well. We’ll see. Whoever executes the best will have the best opportunity to win.”
He said that they will take a look back at the postseason defeat as a reference point.
“We’ll watch it. I mean, that’s all we do is watch tape,’ Fox said. “I’m sure we’ll look at it just for matchups — some of our players versus some of their players, just to see how that went. From my memory it didn’t go very well. We’ll look at it again I’m sure.”
Someone who might be able to give the Broncos some help when it comes to preparing for the Patriots is Dan Koppen. The longtime offensive lineman, who was in New England from 2003 through 2011 before being cut just before the start of the 2012 season, is expected to start at center for Denver. (Starting center J.D. Walton went on injured reserve with an ankle injury after going down against the Raiders.)
“He’s got that experience, just like [QB] Peyton Manning has a lot of experience,” Fox said of Koppen. “When you get to a new offense [with] new teammates, under pressure, it takes a minute to get accustomed to it. It’ll be the same for him as it’s been for Peyton.
“He had a similar injury as J.D. just had a year ago. That’s why he wasn’t with a team. We felt really good about the addition of him because he brings top-notch experience at that position. We had the opportunity to sign him and we did and I’m glad we did.”
Koppen saw his first action of the year Sunday against the Raiders.
“I thought he did very well,” said Fox. “One thing about NFL football is the tape is never as good as you think and it’s never as bad as you think. We still have a lot of improving to do. Dan with more reps in practice and a better understanding of our offense, he’s capable of playing better, but he did a good job kind of on the job training just getting thrown out there quickly when J.D. went down. Considering all that, he did an excellent job.”
Here are a few other highlights from Fox’s Q&A with the media on Monday:
|Joe Theismann on D&C: Peyton Manning ‘the right move’ for Broncos||03.21.12 at 12:09 pm ET|
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Joe Theismann joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday to discuss, among other things, the Broncos’ signing of Peyton Manning and what may become of Tim Tebow‘s future in the wake of Manning’s arrival.
When asked if the Broncos made the most sense of the teams that Manning was considering, a final list that reportedly also included the Titans and 49ers, Theismann said that while we may never know what the main deciding factors were in Manning’s decision, he feels that Manning was heavily influenced by the presence of Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway.
“Well, it depends upon what Peyton wanted and what Peyton saw,” Theismann said. “We can prognosticate about a lot of different things — what he might have wanted, what he thought about things — [but] he’s the only one that really looked at the organizations and said, ‘This is the best chance for me to do what I want to do at the end of my career.’ I think he connected with John Elway. You’re talking about two of the greatest players that ever played the game getting on the same page, having a vision.”
With Manning now in the fold for the Broncos, Theismann said the team is unquestionably better with its high-profile addition at quarterback.
“Everyone in the organization is going to be better because of Peyton Manning,” Theismann said. “Last year in Denver, you have to understand, you had Tim Tebow learning how to play professional football. He still has to learn to be more accurate throwing the football if he wants to have a career in this league.
“So you had him learning, you had [Eric] Decker learning, you had Demaryius Thomas learning, you had John Fox learning. Now you have someone that brings a lot of experience, and I think it’s the right move for the Denver Broncos.”
Manning’s arrival in Denver casts immediate doubt over Tebow’s future as the Broncos quarterback. It has been widely speculated and reported that Tebow is likely to be traded. Theismann said that Tebow, despite the success he has experienced thus far in his career, still has a long way to go before becoming a standout NFL quarterback.
“He’s going to have to be a more accurate thrower of the football,” Theismann said. “If Tim Tebow can approach 58-60 percent throwing the football, I think he can be a great asset to any football team, but that’s a big if. I think that’s a bigger if than Peyton Manning’s health is an if.”
|John Elway says Broncos might trade Tim Tebow||03.20.12 at 4:21 pm ET|
Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said at Peyton Manning‘s introductory press conference Tuesday that trading former starting quarterback Tim Tebow is “a possibility,” and that he had told Tebow that in a phone conversation Monday.
“Coach [John] Fox and I called Tim last night and talked to him about it,” Elway said of the situation. “I think that having been in this game for as long as I have and seen as many friends as I’ve seen in this game that all of a sudden are there one day and gone another or retire and leave, that this is a tough business. I want to tell you that the toughest thing about this whole thing is Tim Tebow because of what I think of Tim Tebow.
“The things that he did last year was tremendous and helped turn this organization around from a 4-12 team to a playoff team and winning the division. I’ve got a great deal of respect for him as a person and the things that he does, but that is no question the toughest thing about this business, is the personal side. We just had to make a decision as an organization — myself, coach Fox, the personnel department, the coaches [as to] what would be the best opportunity for the Denver Broncos to be competitive for a world championship, and Peyton Manning was that. That’s why we chose to go in that direction.”
Added Elway: “Obviously he was disappointed. I’m sure he was disappointed. He didn’t come out and say he was disappointed. I think it was a typical Tim Tebow response in the fact that it was very positive, and he said, ‘Well we’re talking about Peyton Manning and I understand exactly what you’re doing.’”
Elway noted that he has yet to enter into trade talks with other teams regarding Tebow.
Manning said that no matter what happens with Tebow, he will support the 2010 first-round pick, whether as a teammate or otherwise.
“Let me just say this: I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is, and what kind of person he is — I’ve gotten to meet him personally one time — and what an awesome person he is,” Manning said. “If Tim Tebow is here next year, I’m going to be the best teammate I can be to him, and he and I are going to help this team win games. If other opportunities present themselves for him, I’m going to wish him the best. He’s going to be a great player wherever he is.”
|Fox not worried about McDaniels giving away secrets: ‘A lot about nothing’||01.10.12 at 6:52 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Denver coach John Fox wasn’t going to bite.
One day after addressing the matter with Denver reporters, Fox was asked on a conference call with New England reporters Tuesday afternoon if he was worried about former Denver coach Josh McDaniels — who was officially hired on Sunday by the Patriots as an offensive assistant — giving way organizational secrets to New England.
“Not really. Every organization has a building full of pro scouts, scouting departments, our write-ups are fairly big on every player on both teams as it is. It’s really going to come down to Broncos and Patriots,” he said. “You know, we change players with teams all throughout the year.
“It’s kind of a lot about nothing.”
Asked if they were “scrambling” to try and change the play calls, Fox responded quickly.
“No, because he doesn’t even know our offense. Our offense is completely different,” Fox said. “I know Josh a little bit and it’s always better to be employed as a coach than unemployed. We change personnel in this league quite a bit. Coaches change cities and players change cities – it’s kind of what we sign up for.”
McDaniels, who was at Patriots’ practice for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, was the head coach in Denver for the 2009 season and most of 2010. In that time, he traded up to draft Tim Tebow, and the two enjoyed a unique player-coach relationship when the two were together.
Tebow said Tuesday that there will inevitably be some overlap from McDaniels’ system with things like audibles, line calls and things like that, but he doesn’t see that as a big problem come Saturday.
“I think (offensive coordinator Mike) McCoy has done a really good job of implementing what he does. Are there some things that overlap? Absolutely,” Tebow said. “A lot coach McCoy has implemented from his background, where he came from and he’s done a great job. We’re not necessarily too worried about that. Coach McDaniels is a great coach and he’ll do a good job, but I’m confident in our coaches and their knowledge and I’m very proud of everything they’ve done this season.”
For his part, Tebow said Tuesday that he’s “happy” for McDaniels and his new situation, and he wishes him “nothing but the best.”
“I want to congratulate him,” he said. “(But) it’s not about that. It’s about the Broncos versus the Patriots, and it’s about us going into a hostile environment and trying to play a good game and playing a great team and playing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick – one of the teams that I watched over the last 12 years growing up.
“It’s exciting, it’s exciting for me because it’s the next round of the playoffs, it’s a big game, it’s playing one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, one of the best coaches of all-time and playing in a big game. It’s very exciting.”
|Broncos not worried that former coach Josh McDaniels will be with Patriots on Saturday||01.09.12 at 7:57 pm ET|
Among the Broncos on Monday, the news that former head coach Josh McDaniels joined the Patriots coaching staff in advance of their Saturday playoff game against New England was met with a collective shrug.
McDaniels, who served as the head coach in Denver for almost two seasons, was fired late in the 2010 season with a 3-9 record in 2010 after losing 17 of his last 22 games. On Saturday, McDaniels, who was offensive coordinator with the Patriots from 2006 through 2008, will be working for his old team (after being let out his contract with St. Louis) against the team he used to coach.
Under his watch in Denver, he drafted many of the members of the current roster, including linebacker Robert Ayers, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and quarterback Tim Tebow.
“I thank God for that,” Ayers said when he was asked about McDaniels taking him in he first round of the 2009 draft. “God put me in a situation to get drafted where I did and blessed me with the ability. Josh McDaniels pulled the trigger on me with the 18th pick. I thank God, and I also give him a little credit for that too.”
“I guess it’s another coach,” said Thomas. “He drafted me and Tim. It’ll be good to see him, but it’s another game.”
“I don’t really pay too much attention to that. We can’t let stuff not on our side distract us. We have a tough team to play. The only thing we can be focused on is football right now,” said wide receiver Eddie Royal. “I don’t think too many guys are going to be thinking about that. We have to worry about stopping Tom Brady and scoring points on this defense. I don’t think you can worry about who’s coaching them.”
Regardless of whether or not McDaniels gives the Patriots an edge – its extraordinary to see a team get the opportunity to hire the former head coach of a team in the week before a playoff game against that team – Denver coach John Fox doesn’t believe there will be much of an advantage gained by New England having McDaniels on the other sideline.
“When you do this for a living you have a pretty good idea of most of the players. You [studied] them in college or coached them before and guys just move cities, that’s kind of what this league is,” said Fox, who was the head coach in Carolina from 2002 through 2010 before joining Denver.
“I mean, we’re going to go play Carolina next year. I don’t think that’s going to be a huge advantage for me. Plus, their team has changed and so has ours. I don’t think it’s a big deal.”
|Five Early Thoughts on the Patriots, Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels going against Tim Tebow and the Broncos next Saturday night||01.08.12 at 8:24 pm ET|
Five very early thoughts on a Patriots-Broncos divisional playoff game, set for Saturday night at Gillette Stadium:
1. The first time these two teams met was back on Dec. 18, when Tim Tebow guided the Broncos to an early lead by running all over the Patriots. (Denver had 15 carries for 167 yards in the first quarter and a 16-7 lead.) But the Patriots were able to keep their heads about them, step back, make the adjustments and outscore the Broncos 34-7 down the stretch. (It was the second of four straight come-from-behind wins down the stretch for the Patriots, and the fourth-biggest comeback of the season for New England.) Tebow finished 11-for-22 for 194 yards. He had no passing touchdowns and no interceptions, but one rushing touchdown and 93 yards on the ground. In contrast, Tom Brady went 23-for-34 for 320 yards and two touchdowns.
2. The rehiring of Josh McDaniels has already started to pay dividends. There may not be anyone currently outside of the Broncos organization who has a better handle on the strengths and weaknesses of Tebow than New England’s new offensive assistant. McDaniels, who coached Denver for the 2009 season and most of the 2010 season, moved up in the 2009 draft to use a first-round pick on Tebow in his first year as a head coach. And while McDaniels was fired on Dec. 6, 2010, two weeks before Tebow made his first start with the Broncos, the two had already managed to forge a pretty close relationship, one borne out of the fact that just about no one in the Denver area wanted either one of them back in the spring of 2009. You can bet that before Demaryius Thomas crossed the goal line on Sunday evening, McDaniels had a full dossier on Tebow on Bill Belichick’s desk.
3. Gap discipline. Gap discipline. Gap discipline. One of the things that the Patriots were able to do an excellent job with over the final three quarters of the last time these two teams met was maintain their gap discipline, something an opposing scout told us as being important when it came to holding Tebow in check. Look for New England to use that as a point of emphasis once again this week.
4. Looking back to that first contest between the two teams last month, the game between the Patriots and Broncos last month turned into the second quarter. Three plays in, the Broncos, who spent much of the first 15 minutes doing whatever they wanted to do to the New England defense, were facing a fourth-and-1 at the New England eight-yard line with a 13-7 lead. But faced with the prospect of delivering the killing blow to a weary Patriots’ defense, Denver coach John Fox instead opted for a field goal instead of going for it on fourth down, and Matt Prater connected n a 26-yarder, making it 16-7. The Patriots, who were staggered at that point, took advantage of the opening, quickly turning momentum in their direction. They used three Denver turnovers in the second quarter — and a successful fourth-down conversion of their own — to put up 20 points of their own in the second quarter on the way to a 41-23 win over the Broncos.
5. Another thing that stood out from that game was the fact that the Patriots’ offensive line was able to do an excellent job keeping the Denver pass rushers in check. According to Pro Football Focus, Brady was only pressured on six of his 36 dropbacks, and linebacker Von Miller was held without a sack, quarterback hit or pressure for the first time in his young career. There were some savage shots (Elvis Dumervil delivered one of the best hits all season on a sack of Brady, while the Broncos had two sacks as a team to go along with three quarterback hits), but for the most part, the New England offensive line did a very good job turning away the Denver pass rush. One of the reasons the Patriots were able to have success keeping Brady upright in that game was their use of tight end Rob Gronkowski as a blocker more than a pass catcher. Gronkowski, who had four catches for 53 yards that afternoon against the Broncos (statistically, it was one of the worst games of the season), was on the field for 76 snaps, and on 41 of those, he was a blocker (PFF has him listed as a blocker on 39 running plays and two pass plays). It marked the second time this season where he spent more than 40 snaps in a game as a blocker, with the other time coming in the game against the first game against the Jets where he had four catches for 31 yards and no touchdowns.
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