Head coach Gary Kubiak spoke to the media Monday afternoon about Sunday's preseason loss to the Denver Broncos and the season's first roster cut. Below are his comments.
(opening comments) "On the defensive side of the ball I thought we were exceptional on the first half. Some of the holes we put them in and the way they battled and they really kept in route to the end zone except for the penalty on special teams. They played exceptional a lot of good things going on that side of the ball.
"(LB DeMeco Ryans) continues to be a very bright spot for this football team and I expect him to be that way for a long, long time. DeMeco is playing extremely well. I think our backend played well. I thought (CB)Lewis (Sanders), and (CB) Dunta (Robinson) and our safeties played very well against a group of receivers. Up front I thought we did some good things we can play even better and that's what's encouraging. I think we got some good young football players on that side of the ball, I was encouraged at what I saw on the first half.
"On the offensive side of the ball, of course we struggled throughout the first quarter. I think we had two possessions on the first quarter, if I'm correct. There are reasons why we struggled, you go back and you look at it, we get sacked on third-and-six, nothing (QB) David (Carr) could do on that situation that takes us off the field. Our first drive, we go down and David loses the ball there. He's got to protect the ball, we felt like we had a play to make there and we got to get in here and figure out why we didn't make that. But, we got to work on that.
"We got a holding call the first possession of the second quarter, which I think got us first and 20 backed up on our own four yard line that's no place to be on the NFL on the road. So that hurt, then we finally got to moving the ball right there before the half. "
"We did some good things. Could have managed time clock better, that starts with me. We moved the ball in the second half pretty good, but we need to put some points on the board when were one-for-three in the red zone.
"One of the disturbing things for me on the offensive side of the ball, too, is we could have had a few turnovers, we put the ball on the ground a couple of times and we were fortunate to get it back.
"Special teams I think we were solid, not exceptional but we need more from our return game with (CB) Phillip (Buchanon), we've got to find him some creases as you guys saw last night. We wanted to return some kicks. Of course they were kicking the ball out of the end zone. We're going to be able to win some games on special teams with that returner we've got back there so we're looking for more.
"That's what we saw, we've got a long way to go and we knew that when we went there and we know that still today. We're going to keep plugging and try to find a way to get there."
(on QB David Carr's performance regressing) "No, not at all, there's nothing David can do when it's third-and-six and we don't protect well. There's nothing David can do when it's first and twenty at our four yard line and we try to be safe and get the ball out there. Yes, David can protect the ball better. On the interception he threw he's trying to check the ball down, which he should have been doing in that situation. But if that check-down is covered off or it's not there, then he's got to be able to throw the ball away or do something from that standpoint.
"He's 15 out of 22 and he grounded two balls, when he's 15 out of 20 that's tough to do in this league. David's doing some good things and he's got to do some better things and that's why I'm here to help him to try and get those things done and we're just going to try to keep working."
(on positives he sees in Carr) "Well, he completed 15 out of 20 passes, as I just said, that is very difficult to do. He was getting the ball in the right spot for the most part. A couple of decisions you'd like to have back, but he was getting the ball in the right spot. He continues to move around good, we know that's his strength to move around. But we also got to be able to sit in the pocket and make some plays too because people can take that away from you if that's a big part of their game plan. He's got a lot of progress to make and we've got to keep working toward that progress. But to say that he went backwards, I wouldn't say that at all."
(on calling dump plays) "That defense will make you dump the ball. They either come get you or else they sit back there and they're tremendous in their drops and they've got, I think two of the best corners in the league, that make you dump the ball. David knew that going into the game, he was going to have to do that and when they did come after we tried to make some plays trying to put a few balls up. That's part of being a quarterback, whatever you get you got to digest it and you've got to execute and keep your offense on the field."
(on David's comfort level coming late) "I'm concerned about that. That's my job to get him started faster, how to find a way. I've been through this with a lot of quarterbacks. What's the best way to play this game early with this quarterback? What's the best way to get him started in a way to get him comfortable? I've been through many guys and they're all different. David's our new challenge and we got to figure out how to get him started faster in a game. There are some things that happened in that first quarter and early in the second quarter that had nothing to do with David, the sack and the penalty. We're going to try and fix this part, but they all got to do their job, not just one. That's a challenge right now to figure out what's the best way to let him start games, how to go about getting him comfortable in the game. That's a challenge we've got right now."
(David's playing time against Tampa Bay) "There'll be a group of players that won't play at all, him being one of them. I'll let you all know that probably Wednesday, but there's a group of guys that I know will be here playing for us on opening day I'm not going to risk them getting injured with this short turnaround, make sure they're healthy and ready to go against Philadelphia.
"But the biggest thing I want to do is we've got some tough decisions to make and I want to make sure that those decisions are made on the field. I'm going to let some guys compete on this last game. Some guys that are battling to be on this team as a back up, or make it as a fourth or fifth receiver. I want that to be settled on the football field, so I'm going to give them a chance to play.
(on keeping more than three tight ends) "If we made that decision today, yes I would do that. Bennie (Joppru) has a lot to do with that situation with him being able to play a couple spots. If he's flexible and can play some fullback it may determine whether we keep two fullbacks or not. But those things tend to work themselves out, we'll wait until we get through Thursday. I like the four guys we've got. Of course you know we let Patrick Hape go today. Aaron Haltermann's still here who can actually still play some tight end for us, that is a decision to make for our team from a fullback/tight end point."
(on WR Derick Armstrong) "I think Derick got caught up in a situation where's he's got a new coach coming in here. When I look at a third, fourth, fifth wide receiver on a football team I have something I expect out of them to do for the team. I think they have to be big role model players on special teams. I think they have to be big interchangeable parts every game week. From a game plan standpoint I think they have to be able to play a lot of spots and I think some of these young kids give us the ability to play those roles. I'm not a guy that things that every guy has to have a specialty. I think everybody's got to contribute. I do think Derick has fine hands, he does a good job of getting the ball. He's a good possession player, but when I think of the situation of the things these young kids can do for our team were a riding factor and I told him the same thing today. Can he play in this league? Yes he can and he's proven that and he did everything we asked."
(on penalties) "We had a lot of them, they weren't for a lot of yardage. But there were a lot of them and they came at key times. Of course the one on (T Charles) Spencer early in the game basically turned into points for them. The fourth and one that we had on their end of the game right before we took our ones out of the game had a big factor on us scoring seven or three.
"Defensively we jumped a little bit. The field goal penalty is a new rule in the NFL where you can not line up on the center. We did not line up on the center. What happened was (DT) Alfred (Malone) was shifting from one side to another and when the ball was snapped he was actually in that area so they made that call. It's good that happened because it's a point of emphasis we've had to talk about in our special teams' practice. It caused us a touchdown and that can't happen."
(on clock-management at the end of the first half) "We definitely need to take a shot (at the endzone) right there. That was my fault. I'll tell you what took place is, I felt like they called two time outs back-to-back (which should be a delay of game penalty), and I told the official that. As we discussed that the clock continued to move. They didn't reset the clock, and after it was all said and done he told me that he thought it was a mistake. But that doesn't matter. We have to handle mistakes. That's our job. I should have seen it moving. I hurt (QB) David (Carr) there by not getting the call in quick enough. We did not have a time out, and we didn't want to get caught on the field. So we have to handle the clock better. That was my fault."
(on RB Domanick Davis' place in the roster) "I don't know. That is going to be a big call this week. It'll be interesting to see how he comes back. I know he ran well while we were gone. That was encouraging. We'll see what happens this week. We'll probably have a sit-down Thursday before the game with himself, possibly his agent, the doctors, and everyone to just have a big meeting about where we are at. You won't see him playing this week. For him to miss all this time, it's not like all of a sudden he's going to jump up there and play. It'll be a tough decision for the final 53 for us as a team, and we'll make that decision in the best interest of Domanick. I could probably have a better answer for you this time next week."
(on G Steve McKinney not playing at Denver) "Well, that was on me. Steve is probably about 85%. He's ready to play. I talked to him at the hotel on Sunday morning, asked him how he was feeling. He said, 'Hey, I'm not 100%, but I can play.' I think I know what he can do. I think I know what we'll do for our team. He's played in this league a long time. For us to push him and set him back would have been a mistake. (G) Fred (Weary) continues to need to work. (G David) Loverne played well for us in this preseason game. I'm hoping Steve can play some at center and guard this week, get some work and then be ready to go. But we just didn't want to set him back."
(on making roster cuts 24 hours early) "Well, the reason we're doing that early is the implications for us on everybody else's cuts. Us, being in the position that we are in, I don't think you're going to see too much happen here this weekend, but I think next Saturday we're going to. In a lot of ways its like a draft day for this team. We have to sit down and look at every cut in this league and see if we think we can improve our team. Because you not only have to be ready to claim players if you think they make you better, but you have to know which direction you're going from a cut standpoint with the players that are on your roster. So we have our work cut out for us, but we want to get our business out of the way on Friday. Then (general manager) Rick (Smith) and I can sit there and evaluate, Saturday night, the cuts and then be ready to make our moves on Sunday morning."
(on running backs) "Well, here's what we're going to go. (RB) Wali (Lundy) is going to be here. (RB) Vernand (Morency) is going to be here. They have both done a good job. Do they have a long way to go? You bet. They have played hard, they have done a good job. They are going to be on this football team. We're asking them to grow up and get better each and every day. If the season started tomorrow, then Wali Lundy's going to be our starting back, and Vernand is going to play. They are both going to play. What I want to do this week is I want to take a hard look at (RB) Antowain (Smith) and (RB) Chris Taylor. Antowain is fresh, he has not played the past couple weeks. Basically this is a big night for him, so we'll look at those two players and see how it goes, but we have a tough decision to make with those two guys. It's going to be made through the course of this next week."
(on Domanick Davis missing so much) "I'm very concerned. There is not much we can do about it, but I am very concerned about that situation. I'm more concerned about him, to be honest with you. Selfishly I could sit here and understand our problems at running back and playing with those young kids, but I see a guy that has done everything the doctors have asked him to do. There's a guy that walked out there the first day of training camp and was feeling great, excited about the season, excited about what we're doing. I watched him work for two days and then watched the knee respond the way it did. I know it's been very frustrating for him. All we can do is be there for him. We're concerned about him right now and doing what is right for him."
(on looking for running backs elsewhere) "Well, I definitely think our team will be looking at linebackers very hard, we'll be looking at running backs very hard. We'll be looking inside at defensive players. We're going to try to get better, and if we see someone out there we think can make us better. We have coaches that come from all over the place. There probably won't be many guys there that we don't have some feel for. If we think a guy makes our football team better, then we're going to continue to get better."
(on the starting four on the defensive line) "I think they are all getting better. (DE) Mario (Williams) was definitely better this week than he was week one and two. He's still going to get better. Just watching him, when there is no indecision, he has been really, really good. There has been some indecision, which there is going to be for a young player. I think one of the guys to bring up and who deserves more time on the field is (DT) Seth Payne. This guy has been doing it for a long, long time, and I think he stepped up and played really well in this game. I told you all that I think we need to get better inside, and I think he's helping us get better. (DE) Antwan (Smith) continues to be very active. The way he's playing, I think (DE Jason) Babin has been solid. (DE) Anthony (Weaver) has been sold. But that rotation, I think, gives us a chance up front. (Defensive coordinator) Richard (Smith) did a few different things in the game, played a little 3-4. We have some flexibility there with those players, and the more we can do that the better we can be."
(on DE Jason Babin and DE Antwan Peek being situational players) "I think that is a good point. I think that is what they are. I think Babin is more of a down-in and own-out player just because (he has) a little bit more size against the run. But Antwan is so active, and the way Richard started him, I don't know if you all noticed that, some of the 3-4 looks really freed him us. That was encouraging. The more things like that we can do, the more problems we cause for somebody."
(on the difficulties of cut day as a coach and player) "It was believe me. It's really tough. I spent two hours up there, just one after another, coming in a just talking to them. You have such respect for guys that try to make it in this league. And in all honesty, they don't have a lot of control of the situation. I look back, the Denver Broncos kept me on their roster a long time because they passed the rule to keep three quarterbacks and one didn't count. That is why they kept me. I was very fortunate, and then things worked out. A guy is trying to make it in this league, then all of a sudden you get a nick or something, and you get a chance to play and you (end up) playing for ten years.
"I encouraged them. We had some good kids that we let go today that have busted their tail. I told everyone one of them if we were starting back tomorrow, I'd welcome every one of them back. I think they all did everything we asked them to do, but you just try to encourage them. I have seen many, many players take three or four chances to make an NFL roster, and then they make one and they play a long time. I hope they don't get too discouraged, but it is a very tough day for them. Walking out of that office is a lonely feeling. You just try to be as encouraging as you can."
(on CB Lewis Sanders as a starter) "No doubt. He definitely played well last night. A very confident, physical player going against two good players out there last night and really did a good job. Lewis has earned his keep. I'm excited about him."