ASSISTANT HEAD COACH/DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROMEO CRENNEL
How important will DE J.J. Watt and DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney be to what you want to accomplish this Sunday?
"They're very important because they're playmakers and they have to be reckoned with, but I think that probably after their (the Broncos) performance last week where they ran for 189 yards, that if they can do that again, then they don't have to worry about those guys quite as much in the pass rush. That could be the game plan, to run for 189 yards. That's the thing that we have to be concerned about and be able to stop the run and try to get them into longer yardage situations."
What are your memories of game-planning against WR Demaryius Thomas?
"Well, he's got size, he's got great hands, deceptive at times, and he's playmaker. That's what I kind of remember."
How do you keep a quarterback like Broncos QB Case Keenum inside the pocket?
"Rush lanes. If you have rush lanes and are disciplined in your rush lanes, then you've got a better chance to keep him in the pocket. If you're not as disciplined in your rush lanes and he has a tendency to get out of the pocket, then maybe you assign somebody to him to try to close on him if he does get outside of the pocket."
When you have pass rushers that are able to get up the field quickly, do you have to worry about tackles letting them get up field and then run in behind them?
"Yes, you do. If they work to improve their run defense, then we should be better against the run. Then, what we have to do as well is recognize the difference between the run and the pass. If it's a pass, then we can get up the field. If it's a run, we should stay there at the line of scrimmage."
What was the conversation like before training camp when you approached S Kareem Jackson about transitioning to safety?
"We had had some discussions before training camp about that – about the possibility – in the offseason. So, we talked about that. He was open to it because Kareem is a good team guy. Kareem just wants to play and help the team win. Wherever we put him, he goes and he does a good job. Like I said, he's a team guy. We talked about the possibility early on and he was agreeable to whatever we wanted to do. Then, we moved him to safety and then we had to move him to corner. He just goes and makes plays."
In addition to your coaching, how do you explain how S Kareem Jackson is having a career year in his ninth season?
"Well, it's all about Kareem because whatever I call, it doesn't necessarily say Kareem is going to make a big play on this particular call. Kareem knows the defense, Kareem studies the opponent and knows what their strengths and weaknesses are and knows how to put himself in position to possibly make plays during the course of the game. So, all of the success he's had is because of the type of player he is and how he studies and prepares during the week."
Why was moving S Kareem Jackson to safety the best decision at the time?
"Because we had what, one safety, two safeties, and then we needed a third one. So, he was a candidate to be the third safety and as it turns out, he was able to move there and he showed that he can play there and help the team. He was doing very well there and then we had to move him back to corner and he's doing very well there. So, wherever we need him – I mean, if I asked him to rush the passer, he would rush the passer and would probably get a sack or two."
How much does experience play a role S Kareem Jackson's versatility?
"Experience has a lot to do it because he's kind of seen a lot of things in his career, he knows how offenses operate a little bit, he knows how different receivers run particular routes and all of those things combined help him make some plays."
Did you move S Jackson to safety out of necessity?
"Well, we thought for the team that it would be a better move for the team at that time. So, that's why we talked to him about moving."
Were you pleasantly surprised by S Kareem Jackson's performance at safety?
"Not necessarily pleasantly surprised. I know he's a good football player, so any time you change positions, you wonder a little about how the guy will adapt, but I wasn't disappointed at all. Because I know that he can play ball."
What skills can S Kareem Jackson display at safety that he wasn't able to at corner?
"Well, a lot of times corner you're just on an island. You're one-on-one with you and the receiver that you're going against. But in safety, you have to know the whole defense, communicate the whole defense and you have more range in the deep part of the field. So, he's shown that he can handle all of that. He makes plays."
Is S Kareem Jackson still playing multiple positions?
"As we need him to, yes."
Going into the week, do you tell S Kareem Jackson what position you think he will play that week?
"Well, sometimes you tell them, 'Hey, you have to know both positions but we think maybe you'll have more time at this position.' We have a multiple defense and several guys have to know multiple positions. That's part of who we are."
How would you like to see DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney and DE J.J. Watt improve?
"Get some interceptions or catch some balls and run them in for touchdowns. Everything else is going pretty good."
Do you like where the NFL is with several quarterbacks averaging 300 passing yards per game or would you like to see more balance?
"Well, it kind of is what it is. I know sometimes the pendulum swings in the NFL, and it might swing back at some point, I'm not sure. But, this is what we have to deal with, this is what we have to prepare for and play against. So, we do the best we can."
Is it harder to game plan in today's NFL?
"Not necessarily. It depends on your ability and the players you have playing for you. If they're tuned in and they have good ability, they can make plays. I think the difference would be the type of player that you get. If a team decides they want to run it for 189 every week, then you might need some bigger guys to take on the run, but the game right now is a little bit more open game, they spread the field, try to get isolations and matchups and so you have to be able to handle that as well."
WIDE RECEIVERS COACH JOHN PERRY
How do you think the new tandem of WR Demaryius Thomas and WR DeAndre Hopkins will work?
"It's obviously an ongoing process here to try to figure out how all of the pieces fit together. I mean, he just got here yesterday. We're just excited that those guys are able to work together. They're both great professionals, so they've really gotten along well and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all continues to mesh along as the week goes on here."
Is there something that's stood out to you about WR Demaryius Thomas since he got here yesterday?
"His professionalism is top-notch. He was in this morning at 7 a.m. He asked me to come in early and go over some things with him. He's taken things upon himself to really prepare himself, so you can see the professionalism is elite."
Do you think WR Demaryius Thomas will be able to contribute at the level you would like him to by Sunday or is there too much of a learning curve?
"There's always expectations, but it really comes down to making sure that we put him in the best position. That's what we do every day. That's our jobs as coaches to make sure that we put them in the best position, and we're figuring that out as we go – what is that best position moving forward for him with his route tree and what plays and what things we can do with him. It's a learning curve for all of us."
How nice is it to have a wide receiver like WR DeAndre Hopkins to rely on?
"I think you guys know from last time how I feel about DeAndre. He's a phenomenal player. He's a phenomenal professional. You'd have to be living in a treehouse in the middle of Colorado not to know what we feel and how we feel about DeAndre. We'll lean on him heavily just as we've always done and I'm sure he'll come through, just as he's always done."
What stood out to you about WR Demaryius Thomas when watching from afar?
"The funny part is, with him, we've always watched him, Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) and I, in the offseason, just the things he's done and admired him from afar. So, when Brian (Gaine) and Coach (Bill O'Brien) mentioned his name the other day, it was obviously exciting. Having a background because of what we had watched, DeAndre and I, and how he did things and everything like that, it was really exciting. When the whole thing comes together, you're on edge saying, 'Is this really going to happen?' I'm just glad it did."
How important is WR Demaryius Thomas' size especially in the redzone?
"Any time guys have that kind of size – I mean, DeAndre (Hopkins) creates matchup problems because of his size. Demaryius has done that throughout his career. Just the mismatch – I was talking to him about some of the things they did in the red area and stuff like that. You've got to have great hands to play at this level, and he has that. He's got great size. He's deceptively quick and agile. He's that guy, a lot like DeAndre, that they have great movement skills for a bigger guy. So, that's going to be exciting to see what we can do with those two guys."
How much will you miss WR Will Fuller V?
"We're going to miss Will for a whole bunch of reasons. He's great in the room, he's a great professional, he's a great practice player, he's a good example for everybody on the team. You saw where he came through in critical situations on the slip screen to come up with a big first down against Jacksonville a couple of weeks ago. So, we're going to miss Will for a lot of reasons, but we move on and we wish him well with his recovery and everything like that, but as far as worrying about what we miss, we really focus on what we can do, what Demaryius (Thomas) is able to bring to us, what the guys in the room are able to give to us and what DeAndre (Hopkins) will continue to give to us and has given to us so far."
Do you feel optimistic that WR Keke Coutee will play on Sunday?
"I always like to watch these guys throughout the week. The thing always comes together. Like Bill (O'Brien) always says, we're always looking at things from the day we get in here on Sunday all the way up until 90 minutes before game time when everybody knows exactly who the inactives are and everything like that. That's our approach, that's my approach. I just prepare everybody in the room the best I can to be ready to go. I think everybody in the room will be ready to go when the time comes."
What kind of skillset does WR Keke Coutee have in regard to stretching the field?
"His skillset is that he's very quick and he's got very strong hands. Then, when you add his explosiveness to the mix, that's really a triple threat. We're excited every time he's on the field and we're always looking for ways to involve him in the game plan and everything like that. Moving forward, that's not going to change."
What are the challenges of getting WR Demaryius Thomas up to speed so quickly?
"The big thing is making sure you don't overload him because you never want to slow an athlete down. We're going to, based on his skillset, put him in the best position to be successful, which is always the way we approach it. Then, just let him play full speed. I'm really excited to see what that produces because that's been our approach since the second we found out we were going to have him in the building."
What's the interaction between WR Demaryius Thomas and you been like since he arrived?
"It's so refreshing to talk to somebody with the kind of experience he has because he really understands things. It takes one second to figure things out. There were a couple of things on the fly at practice yesterday where I was like, 'Hey, when they do this, do this,' and he was like, 'Oh, yeah, definitely.' It's not like a long, drawn-out process. You just have to give him those key points and he totally understands what you're talking about because he's seen so much."
DE/OLB JADEVEON CLOWNEY
People are talking about Broncos OLB Von Miller and OLB Bradley Chubb going after QB Deshaun Watson, but what about you and DE J.J. Watt going after Broncos QB Case Keenum?
"Oh, it's going to happen. It's a part of the game, that's every week, it's what we try do, get after quarterbacks. We have another task this week."
How do you keep Broncos QB Case Keenum in the pocket?
"We've got to rush at the level of the quarterback, press the pocket, just try to not run by him."
What do you think about Broncos QB Case Keenum?
"I think Case is a good guy. He was here, he was a leader when he was here. Great player, very smart, knows defenses very well. Disguises are going to be very, very big. So, we just have to get ready to play this week. It'll be a great matchup."
How much would winning this game mean to you guys?
"This is the next game on our schedule so it's very, very big. They're all getting big now. It's November football. It's when they all really, really start counting and you know where you're at, so we need this game to give us a lead in our division. It's going to be very important for us to go out here and try to get it before the bye. It would be very big going into the bye."
What is the feeling like around this team?
"I don't think it ever changed when we were 0-3 or (won) five. I was very confident, very competitive, very fun being around these guys. We just go out here every day and just try to work together and get better together and win games. It's starting to come together, but the feeling around the locker room hasn't changed."
Do you get extra motivation when playing a team that has pass rushers who garner a lot of attention?
"Yeah, all the time. It's a very competitive league. It's a competition. I know those guys are going to get after quarterbacks, that's what they do. I'm expecting the same thing out of our guys – go out there and compete and try to make plays. I think we've been doing well as a defense this year. We just have to keep playing as a defense and keep bringing it week by week."
How impressed are you by what DE J.J. Watt's been able to do this season?
"Very impressed. Injuries are not fun. It's hard to deal with confidence-wise and all of that. For him to come out there and be leading the league in sacks is very big for him and his confidence because I'm sure at one point, he was down about it. It's not easy. I faced an injury. It helped me get back, I gained it back, but it was very hard to build my confidence up first. I'm happy for him and where he's at and he's helping our defense and that's what we need from him week by week. So, another big week, hope he keeps doing what he does – make plays."
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
What are your thoughts on the receiving corps now with the addition of WR Demaryius Thomas?
"Veteran guy with a lot of experience. He's been on a championship team before. He'll bring a little wisdom and knowledge to this corps."
How excited were you to hear about the trade for WR Demaryius Thomas?
"Very excited. I trained with Demaryius. I know him. I've watched his routes before to work on some of my stuff that I can improve on, so I was very excited when I heard it."
What kind of interactions did you have with WR Demaryius Thomas yesterday at practice?
"It was just going over the plays, going over some stuff, just testing him on what we went over, the routes and stuff."
What challenges do the Broncos secondary pose?
"The secondary that we're facing, they've got guys like Chris Harris and Pacman Jones, people who have played a lot of games in the NFL. A lot of wisdom back there in that secondary. So, we just have to come out and be on our game."
Are you excited about having a receiver the size of WR Demaryius Thomas on the other side of you?
"Oh yeah, he can make plays. He did it with Denver for years. I'm pretty sure he's going to continue to do that here."
What stood out about WR Demaryius Thomas when you worked out together in the offseason?
"His scores and how high he tested in everything. Even though he was a bigger guy, he tested higher than I did in basically everything, so I was trying to push to reach his goals."