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Conference call: Tebow and Fox
QUARTERBACK TIM TEBOW
Is this starting stuff all it’s cracked up to be?
It’s been a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying every day in practice and every game. I’m just living out a dream, so it’s a lot of fun.
Do you feel like the guy at the eye of the storm? I can’t remember too many quarterbacks who are getting this kind of focus and polarization and debate. What’s it like to actually be the guy in the middle of all of it?
I just try honestly not to focus on it or think about it or pay attention to it. I just focus on the things that I can control and not worry about outsiders or what people are saying or what’s going on in the media, because I can’t control that. My main focus has just been every day going out there working as hard as I can and consistently trying to get better every day.
How does a human being do that, to shut out the rest of the world?
Number one you don’t watch much TV or listen to radio. Most of my days are spent here at the office. I’m surrounded by a close group of friends and family outside of my teammates. I’m surrounded by great people that love and care about you and support you every day and you know what, that’s what matters. I think that’s the main way I don’t worry about it too much or don’t stay focused on it and focus on what I can control. I go into the office every day and worry about having a great attitude, getting better and staying focused.
Go back to that last play of the first San Diego game. Did you come away encouraged or completely discouraged?
Obviously you want to win, so I was discouraged because we couldn’t get a win, but at the same time it was a lot of fun for me to get an opportunity to play. I thought we made a pretty good comeback and we just came up one play short. Hopefully we’ve gotten better every week and hopefully we’ll be able to put out a little bit better overall team effort this time.
The fact that Kyle Orton got released yesterday, is that a statement about your own status?
No sir. That’s just something that I guess the Broncos felt good about. That’s just people a lot smarter than me making decisions. We just go out there and stay focused every day and work. That’s nothing in my control.
Are there one or two specific things you’re focused on trying to get better at?
A specific thing is this footwork, from play-action under center to everything we do in the gun. Just all types of footwork. Footwork in the pocket. It could be so many different things. So many different drops. I think that’s one main thing. And then just overall, his decision-making. Being a great offensive manager out there. Getting us in and out of the right plays. And making great decisions once the ball has been snapped.
Was that team with you from the moment you stepped onto the field or did you feel that you had to win them over?
I just feel like we have a great bunch of guys in the locker room. A great bunch of leaders. Guys like Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins and Elvis Dumervil and D.J. Williams. Just so many guys on both sides of the ball. We just follow those guys’ lead and every day try to work hard and stay focused and I think that’s been our main thing. I know it sounds cliché, but we’re just a team that’s taking it one day at a time right now.
Do you buy all this long-term stuff?
Like I said earlier, I really don’t try to pay attention to it. That’s just worrying about what I can’t control. Our main focus is this week and getting better every day. I thought we had a good practice today. We have a few more good practices and head to San Diego and try to put forth a good effort.
Is there any lesson for you as a young quarterback in what Philip Rivers is going through this year?
Well I think every quarterback, no matter who you are, no matter how good or bad you are, you’re going to have ups and downs. Philip Rivers is a big-time competitor. He’s someone that I respect his competitiveness. I think he’s a very, very, very good quarterback. I love his toughness. He played a game with a torn ACL. He’s the leader of that team. He’s done so many things for that organization, that franchise, and he’s a guy that I respect and watch how he plays. He does a lot of great things. He’s obviously probably thrown a few more picks than he wanted to this year, but he’s a gunslinger and that’s going to happen sometimes. But he’s a great player and he’s going to have a lot more great moments in his future.
He also came into the league with a lot of guys questioning his throwing style. Does that register with you?
I think he’s a guy that overcame a lot of obstacles. More than anything, he’s been a winner. He was a winner and led N.C. State to a bunch of wins and came in the league and has taken San Diego to the playoffs a bunch of times and come close to taking them to the Super Bowl a few times. The guy just puts forth a great effort. More than anything, he’s a competitor and a leader. Those are qualities that I respect out of him.
You talk so much about being a leader. Is that something you’re born with or can that be taught?
I believe it’s a little bit of both. I think some people have more innate qualities to lead. Maybe they’re a little more outspoken or fiery. Some people, you just kind of look at them and they’re natural leaders. I think it can also be taught by the position you’re in. The attitude that you can make yourself have. The way you carry yourself. So I believe it’s both.
Why do you have such a strong connection with the fans?
I’m not sure. I just know that God has blessed me so much with so much support from the University of Florida to when I was in high school to now being a Denver Bronco. All those places have such good fan support and I’m just very blessed to be a part of it.
When Josh McDaniels left, did you think your chance might not come here in Denver?
I was just going to stay focused on work and continue to try to get better and improve. That’s all I really try to worry about. I knew that they would hire a great coach and they did in Coach Fox. I’m very fortunate to play for him.
Do you believe in the Sports Illustrated cover jinx?
What is that?
You’re on the cover of Sports Illustrated and often whoever’s on the cover stubs their toe that week.
(Laughs) I haven’t heard that. I’ve heard of the Madden jinx. Well, I guess, I hope that doesn’t happen. And I didn’t even know I was on there.
When you look at the film of the Chargers, what jumps out at you?
They’ve been a good team for so long and they’ve got a lot of veterans, especially just looking at the defensive side. In the middle Takeo Spikes and (Na’il) Diggs and Shaun Phillips. They’ve got a lot of playmakers in the back end. They’re very fast. They’ve got playmakers in (Eric) Weddle and (Steve) Gregory and (Antoine) Cason and (Quentin) Jammer. Those guys make plays. You’ve got to be smart, make good decisions and not give them opportunities to make big plays with turnovers or big hits or anything like that. That’s something we’ve done a pretty good job of staying away from and I think when you do that it gives you an opportunity to keep a lot more momentum and it gives you an opportunity to move the chains and keep our defense off the field, which it’s great to keep them rested.
Your old college coach has been mentioned a lot. You think he’s ready to jump back in?
I’m not sure. I know he loves coaching. He loves being around kids and he loves making a difference in kids’ lives and he loves the game of football. Whenever he’s ready he’ll get back into it and I know he’s going to do a great job whenever he does come back.
From the time you became a starter, have you noticed a marked difference in the way defenses are approaching you?
We’ve seen a lot of different looks over the past five weeks. You’ve got to try to prepare for a lot of different looks because you never know exactly how a team’s going to play you. We try to be ready depending on what looks we get in a game. We try to game-plan for certain things and also, I think what’s most important in the NFL is you’re never going to be 100 percent right in game-planning because they’re always going to put in new wrinkles. The biggest (thing) for us is being able to go in a game, go through the first series and come to the sidelines and say, ‘OK, this is what they’re doing and this is how we can adjust.’ If we’re able to adjust on the sideline, I think that is crucial.
You’ve done a good job of protecting the football. Does being able to make the decision to tuck and run instead of forcing a pass help?
I think sometimes that can help. I think also you just have to try to make good decisions and sometimes not force it in there, and sometimes I probably should have thrown a few balls when I’ve pulled it down. So it’s just consistently getting better and understanding the situations and how to handle them and when to throw it away, when to force it in there and when to scramble.
Would you expect quite a different approach from the Chargers than when you faced them the last time?
I’m not sure. The Chargers have a very good defense and they did some very good things against us. So whatever they feel comfortable with. They have their system and they’re very good at what they do. I think they’ll come up with a good game plan for us.
HEAD COACH JOHN FOX
Can you put your finger on any one, two or three things as far as this turnaround?
I think we’ve just improved as a football team. It’s been well-documented on our change at quarterback. Timmy’s done well for us. We haven’t turned it over a bunch and we’ve run it more effectively, but there’s more to it. I think we’ve found a groove a little bit on defense and I think our kicking game has been pretty solid all the way through the year. At the end of the day, coaches are getting used to players, players are getting used to the coaches and we’re all getting more used to the scheme. Henceforth we’re getting better.
Aside from the running game, how much of what Tim has brought is just energy? Every time we see a replay of him teammates are around him throwing him up in the air.
Obviously those are after good plays. At the end of the day he hasn’t turned it over. We had some issues with that early in the season and when you’re losing that statistic, typically you’re losing games. We’ve cleaned that up some. Obviously he has some abilities to run the football and has spruced our rushing attack up because of that. When you’re winning, you’re a little more excited.
Have you had fun over the last month making adjustments so that Tebow can be successful?
It’s been a challenge but it’s been fun. I think the offensive staff has had a good time with it. I know I have. I know Tim has. So there’s been some adjustments. It’s been a lot of work by not just Tim and our coaches, but the rest of the team. We haven’t wholesale-changed our offense; that’s not possible to do mid-stream, but some of the tweaks and things we’ve done have been fun in the preparation phase for sure.
What are some of the things that you’ve seen from opposing defenses? Has it changed from week to week with him?
No, not too much. I think we’ve got wrinkles, but one of the downsides is figuring out what the opponent is going to do because some of the things we’re doing are a little bit different and you don’t get a lot of evidence on the opponent tape with their opponents. We have to adjust pretty quickly during the game and that’s been kind of what we’ve done over the last five weeks.
Are there one or two specific things you’re trying to have Tebow get better at right away?
I think it’s like any young player. It’s Von Miller at linebacker or any of these young quarterbacks that are playing in the league right away right now. It’s the old adage: the more you do it, the better you get. Those are things with any young player, including Tim. Really, everything about their game. Time management. Huddle management. That’s the one thing that’s tough about the quarterback position is you’ve got a lot of things to keep track of and it’s tough on any young player.
Was it somewhat of a mutual decision to give Kyle Orton the opportunity to go elsewhere?
First and foremost, we’re going to make decisions that are best for the Denver Broncos. First and foremost, I think it shows we have great confidence in our group right now with Tim Tebow, Brady Quinn and Adam Weber. I think second of all, part of that decision, some of the things you’ve mentioned, Kyle’s handled a tough situation great. He’s a real pro. We’ve had a great room all season long. There might be opportunities. I can’t speak for the other 31 teams, but I wished him nothing but the best and thanked him for everything he did for me and us.
Is Tim different from every other quarterback you’ve been around?
I can’t say every other. He’s unique, there’s no question. He’s got great intangibles. I think that’s been well-documented. He’s a fierce competitor. I think he’s probably got more of a middle linebacker mentality than any quarterback I’ve ever coached. He has a unique ability to run with the football.
Though he continues to win games, all we keep hearing is long term, long term, long term. Do you think long term? Do you allow that into your thinking when it comes to your quarterback?
Well I’ve been in this league for 23 years and the one thing I’ve discovered, there’s nothing long-term about it. And that includes every position. So I can’t really speak to the future. I can just speak for the now and that’s worked pretty good for me up to this point. I think we’ll just keep using that.
What’s going on with the defense? Where is the improvement coming from?
I think part of it is we’ve made some pretty radical changes from a 3-4 to a 4-3. I think the biggest thing, and it was one of my concerns with the lockout. Not just the Xs and Os but just getting to know your team, your players. The biggest part of coaching is putting your guys in a position where they can have the most success and figuring that out for really a whole football team, offense, defense and special teams, that’s been the challenge. I think we’re starting to figure that out.
What do you think has happened with the Chargers? What are you seeing?
First of all I know they’re well-coached. They’re a good football team. They beat us last game. They’ve had some injuries. I think those are well-documented, as are most of the teams in the league. I know we’ll have a tough contest like you do with any division game.
Philip Rivers is considered a better passer than Tim Tebow, but one is protecting the quarterback and the other isn’t. How much does that have to do with the direction of these teams?
I’ve got nothing but great respect for Philip. I knew him when he was still in college. He’s done great things, been to Pro Bowls. I don’t doubt his abilities at all and I’m sure his team doesn’t either.
They’re going to honor a guy that you coached here, Junior Seau, on Sunday. What are some of those memories that stand out when you were here?
I think he was a great teammate. He had high energy. He came to work every day and practiced hard. Had great enthusiasm. A guy that has a true passion and a love for the game. He had a great, long career. I’ve got nothing but great respect for him. Read