Head Coach Norv Turner:
On the severity of running back Ryan Matthews’ injury:
“He was pretty stiff. He took a pretty good shot on that hit. We will see where he’s at tomorrow. Hopefully he will be alright, be able to practice tomorrow and play on Sunday.”
On changing anything in practice today:
“The thing is, every Wednesday, Thursday or Friday depending on who you’re playing, you have to do things a little differently. There are some things that are unique to what Denver does. We spent some time concentrating on the things we felt gave us a problem in the first game and hopefully we can fix some of those things.”
“As I tell the guys all the time, I think there are always examples of guys that have great games or have a great stretch or season. For Antonio to do what he has done over such an extended period of time and to do it over the last two or three years with so many hardships in terms of his injuries, it just speaks awfully highly of him as a person and player.”
On offenses making it a top priority to shut Antonio Gates down after stopping the run:
“What happens is, depending on who is on the field with him and how we’re going, obviously he got more room. Some people ask me how Antonio got so open. When two wide outs start having production and making plays, you spread them out a little bit. There are only so many guys to defend. After
On a report that Denver’s coaching staff wanted the equipment staff towels checked in the previous matchup and whether he looks for that in other teams:
“I have put that thing so far behind me, that has been a non-issue. The last time we talked about it was when the league made a ruling on it. It is a non-issue to me.”
On the status of Danario Alexander and
“I think we can use all of our receivers. It is a matter of match ups, the guys that give us the best opportunities to make plays and a little bit of the guy who has got the hot hand. Right now obviously Alexander has had back to back nice performances.”
On this game being a must-win:
“Every week is a must-win but now you’re talking about your division. You’re talking about a team that obviously has a lead on us, that beat us here. Certainly it is a critical game for us to play well and win.”
On using the previous loss to the Broncos as a motivating tool:
“I think you have to look at the positives in the game and the things we did well to get to a lead. Then we have to look at the things that kept us from winning. Our issue is that it is more about us finding a way to play complete game.”
On the threat Peyton Manning poses:
“He is one of those guys. There are certain guys that make everyone better. You’re not going to fool him very often. We had an interception for a touchdown last time we played them. It was a miscommunication with him and receiver. You get a play like that, it’s obviously very big. He is going to get them in the right play and he does a great job of attacking defenses.”
On the probability of tackle
“He was not able to practice today so that is where he’s at. When he is able to practice I can watch him practice and watch him move around. I will give you an update in terms of him being able to play.”
On Broncos linebacker Von Miller being an improved player from last year:
“They have a lot of dynamic players. They have a lot of players that can change a game. He is certainly one of them. Young players like Von improve and play better. He is such an explosive pass rusher, he had an unbelievable impact last year and he is continuing to have the same impact. He is becoming a more versatile player. That is the experience of player linebacker. He has a major impact when he is rushing the passer. They do a great job of using his abilities, moving him around and getting him matched up.”
On the Chargers offensive tackles doing a good enough job against speed rushers:
“It is the same thing. This league is about doing a good job in critical situations and being able to avoid the negative play. We’ve got to do a good job of helping our tackles. When they don’t get help Denver does a good job of creating situations where you can’t help. When they don’t get help they’ve got to do as good of a job as they can. We have to get the ball out. We have to do everything we can from allowing their edge rusher to make plays that change a game.”
On the team struggling to make plays in the fourth quarter:
“I think there is a combination of things. Most of our problems at the end of the game have come down to handling the rush and the tight coverage and pressure. At the end of the half we have seen some different looks.”
On what most impresses him about center
“I think consistency. We ask a lot of Nick. We put a lot on him in terms of leading the offensive line, getting us in and out of the right protection calls and getting the line turned the right way. Then he physically has to perform. There are some guys that may have great blocks or great plays but he has very few negative plays. Plays that keep you from gaining yards or plays that keep you from having success.”
What is your theory on what’s been going wrong with the Chargers?
“I don’t have a theory and I don’t think that there’s a consistency of anything other than the fact that we turned the ball over more in those five games than the other games. You usually lose like that and I think that theory would hold true across the history of football. The more consistent that you can play through four quarters and not turn the ball over, the more consistently you’ll win the game.”
Has the strong play by wide receivers Danario Alexander and
“I can’t say that we’ve seen a ton of different coverages but maybe a trend will develop as the season keeps moving along. You’re talking about two weeks now with that group on the field and I think that for the past two weeks teams have held pretty true to what they’ve shown on film.”
Why is Antonio Gates so good in red-zone situations?
“He’s a unique guy and a great player and we do a great job schematically of getting some opportunities in there. He was big in the last two weeks and will continue to be. The one thing that’s been different is that Malcom (Floyd) and Gates have been on the same side. I don’t know that they’ve lined up on the same side all that much if you look at the previous seven or eight games.”
On Antonio Gates reaching toward the Chargers’ all-time touchdown list:
“I think that it’s great. He’s been a consistent player every down, not just scoring touchdowns. His durability and his ability to fight through injuries the past few years along with his playing at this level is definitely impressive.”
With Antonio Gates being doubled-up a lot, do you have to pick your spots with him during the course of a game?
“It’s going to be hard where he’s going to catch six or seven balls in a row in a drive because at some point they’re going to say ‘forget it’. You definitely pick your spots. There are times when he’s blatantly doubled and you have to eliminate him, but there’s times when he can find a crease or a little soft spot in between the double. Sometimes there’s not just two guys on top of him like you’ve seen in Kansas City and other games. Sometimes it may just be rolling the coverage that way and there’s still some opportunities there to give him the ball.”
On the blocking on the offensive line:
“Our guys have done a heck of a job and they’ve fought their tails off. Some of it in the fourth quarter is that you know you’re going to throw it on every down. You look at New Orleans and the way that turned out in the last few minutes when we threw on every play. That’s the worst situation that you can be in as far as them knowing that you’re throwing it and you have to go and get 80 yards. I think that in the Tampa Bay game we were as active on the front as we’ve played and I thought they did a heck of a job. Part of this position is having guys around you and getting hit now and then. “
Do you think your mistakes are the result of trying too hard to make plays?
“I don’t think so. And that last game was probably the best one that I’ve had in a while except for one play. We’ve put together some good plays over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, the consequences of that play the other day were great. But I don’t think that I’m pressing. I think that if I were pressing we would have about 40 percent completion and would be scoring about seven points. I don’t think that’s a problem. It was a play that I wish I had back, but I can’t have it back. But we do get to play Denver on Sunday. “
Does this team have it in them to go on a playoff run?
“I certainly think that we do and we all believe it. We’re going to keep fighting. We’ve been in worse positions than 4-5 and two games back with a chance to cut it to one. Win or lose last week, this is going to be a big game. It could have put us in a little better position had we won, but we didn’t. This is a game that we need to win regardless because if not, Denver sweeps us. We’re going to play until that horn blows January first or whenever that last one is and we’ll see where we stand after that.”
Compared to when you last saw Denver’s defense, what do you see now?
“It’s very similar. It’s a really good defense. When you watch the film you saw big plays and you saw the opportunity to make big plays because the statistics show that there was going to be the ability to throw the football. This week, the completions and the big plays are going to be hard to come by. They’re playing with a lot of confidence. We were the start of their streak and hopefully we can be the end of it.”
Is there bad blood between the Broncos and Chargers?
“I don’t think so. I don’t know that I would necessarily call it bad blood. There’s a heck of a rivalry.”
Will running back
“We would like him to be a big factor in every game. We’ll see how the game plays out on Sunday.”
How much of Denver’s current success do you attribute to quarterback Peyton Manning?
“I think that he’s had a lot to do with the success of every team he’s been on. They’re a heck of a team, but he didn’t have anything to do with the six turnovers the first time we played them.”
Do you feel that the offense has played a complete game this year?
“No. I think that the closest thing to it have been the last two weeks. There wasn’t a lot of stuttering going on in either game. We haven’t yet, and I need to not turn the ball over and we need to put together a string of quarters and a complete game. We just have to go win a game. There’s no better time to start it than right now with what’s at stake this week.”
On his theory as to why the team has been struggling:
“It is not a theory. If you see us play it’s what it is. It is turnovers and the lack of getting turnovers at crucial times. Attention to detail. That has been the biggest thing. Collectively, we need to make it stop and we plan on making it stop this week right here.”
On using the last game against the Broncos as motivation for payback:
“For us, we look at is as something bigger than payback. You look at payback, you’re looking at a one-time hit. This is a drawn out soap opera that leads on into the playoffs, having a shot. It is bigger than that. It is the big picture that we do see. At the end of the day it only starts with one. It is this week.”
On a noticed progress between Peyton Manning now and five weeks ago:
“I definitely think he is more comfortable; not that he didn’t look like that prior to now. It is natural. Any time you continue to work with guys you get more confident. It is the same thing with us defensively. I feel that over the past few weeks we have played pretty good ball.”
On the team being unusually quiet during the last few minutes of practice:
“I just think you are reading too much into it.”
On this game being a must-win:
“I look at every game like we have to win it. I don’t like sitting back at the end of the day hoping and praying, fingers crossed that I hope this team loses. To sum up this game, if you want to have the opportunity to control your own destiny we have to go out and win this game.”
On it being possible to stop Peyton Manning:
“Is it possible to stop Peyton Manning? Man, you need to stop playing PlayStation. I’ve been playing Peyton Manning for a long time. He is a great quarterback in this league and has done a lot of good things. To think that we ever sit around and just development the mindset that we can’t stop him, we shouldn’t get on the plane. To answer your question, no, we plan on stopping him. He’s going to make his plays. Every quarterback is going to make their plays, period. We cannot allow him to make the big plays that he has been making over the past few weeks.”
Tight end Antonio Gates
What does it mean to you to be one catch away from the all-time Chargers touchdown record?
“Since the day that I first stepped into the league I wanted to epitomize what it meant to be a professional athlete and what it was to be an NFL tight end, which is hard work, dedication and sacrifice. Whenever I think about any kind of milestones, the first thing that comes to mind is the first time that I stepped foot into the Chargers organization and what it meant to wear the Chargers’ jersey on my back. But at the same time, I was thinking about the sacrifices that my teammates and my coaches made to put me in that position. I can’t say enough about those guys who put me in those positions. Ultimately, even though it’s something that’s individual, it speaks volumes about my teammates and the teammates that I’ve had in the past.”
How have you been able to use your experience to find windows in the red-zone?
“It’s always been the patience of any player who has been able to contribute consistently game in and game out. You have to make the plays that are presented and you have to make the ones that aren’t expected as well. I’ve always felt the need to stay patient but at the same time do my job because you never know when it’s time for you to make plays and finish a game. I’ve always felt that way. I think that it all started when I had that major injury. It allowed me to grow up from a mental standpoint and that helped my game as a whole. When I came into this league I was just a raw athletic guy who was able to run and jump. But I always wanted to progress as a player and take steps toward being a better player next year and the following year. As you know, in order to stay consistent in this league you have to grow in certain areas. This year I wanted to come in and lose weight. So every year I try and find a little niche in my game and try to pick out certain points of my game that I need to progress in.”
How frustrating was the last game against Denver and how important is it to finish this one?
“It’s always important to go four quarters against a team like Denver. A team like Denver can beat you in just about any way possible. They can beat you from an offensive standpoint, they can beat you on the defensive end and they can beat you in the special teams game. For us it’s always been about executing. It comes down to taking care of the football, creating opportunities and creating turnovers. Executing on third down, executing in the red-zone, those are the kind of things that we talk about in the locker room and that’s the formula to getting us to being a 5-5 team this week coming up.”
Do you feel that this game is a must-win?
“Every week is a must-win in this league because you never know if that’s the game that gets you to the postseason or not. And that’s my experience from playing for 10 years. At the end of the day we know that it’s a marathon and there are 16 games.”
Do you get frustrated when you get doubled in coverage?
“My main objective is to make an impact in the game. Personally, I prefer to catch the ball all the time but I understand what it’s all about. I understand what it is to win. When you think about winning a championship, you think about the sacrifices that you need to make. I’m completely aware of the talent that’s on this team. We never know who the guy is going to be who steps up big for us. But we do know that if everyone does their job consistently, we give ourselves a better chance to win a football game.”
On the idea of surpassing Lance Alworth on the team’s all-time touchdown receptions list?
“It would be a pleasure to meet someone of that caliber and to be shaking hands with a guy who set the standard of what it is to be a San Diego Charger and what it is to play at a certain level over a career. But at the same time, my journey is not done. So I don’t really dwell on this milestone. To me it’s a phenomenal milestone, but at the same time I understand that the purpose of this year is to go out and win a championship. I think that if I’m able to do it and my teammates continue to trust in me and I surpass that milestone, I think that I’ll really appreciate it when I’m done playing. I’ll be able to look back on it and say ‘wow’. Sometimes you’re too close to the forest to see the trees and I feel that way now because I’m still playing. And I feel that we still have the opportunity to make to the postseason. That’s my main focus at this point.”
What do you say to Philip Rivers struggling, do you offer him any kind of advice?
“When I speak about Philip, yes he’s a teammate and a guy I’ve been playing with for a long time, but he’s also a friend of mine. What friends do is they look optimistically at issues. They don’t worry about the negative stuff. We focus on the positive and how we can eliminate the negative. Our main focus is on what we can do to win a football game. We all talk about turnovers and I understand that, but for me, the guy who’s been around him and played with him, we focus on the next play that we need to make. That’s as cut and dry as we can put it. Sometimes it’s not one person, sometimes there are routes that are run wrong, protection that’s broken down. We all see that maybe he was trying to make something happen. One thing about playing quarterback in this league is that you definitely take all the heat. I can tell you this, he’s the first person in here and the last one to leave. There’s not another person on this team or in this league that I would rather play with than a guy like Philip. I know that I can depend on him and count on him.”
Denver Broncos Conference Call Transcripts:
Head Coach John Fox & WR Eric Decker
Head Coach John Fox
On Broncos personnel being responsible for bringing the sticky towels to the attention of the officials:
“That could not be further from the truth. My staff and myself included are focusing on the game. I had the side judge come to me and show it to me. It was totally a league issue. I don’t really pay attention to people coming on and off the field. We’re looking at personnel and we are coaching ball. That was entirely a league issue brought on by the officiating crew of that game then the league.”
On the Broncos also using sticky towels:
“Our team does not use it. In fact when it was brought to my attention I wanted to find out the league rules on it because it is definitely sticky.”
On any gain arising in the third quarter due to the towel discovery:
“I didn’t even know about it until after the game. It was brought to my attention during the game but I paid it no mind. I haven’t thought about it since really.”
On a few key match ups for the game on Sunday:
“There will be a bunch of them. I think Malcom Floyd against our secondary. How we hold up in the run game. If we can try to do a better job of covering Antonio Gates than we did the last time in your stadium.
On what he could imagine the Chargers mindset would be after the last loss to Denver:
“It is a division opponent. We are very familiar with each other. They have a run of beating us three in a row here at our place. Our team is well aware of that. Like division games they count almost double. Most squads understand the importance of this game. Like always whoever executes the best will win.”
On what he saw differently defensively in the second half of the last Chargers-Broncos matchup:
“Not a lot different. I thought it was fairly evident that we executed better in the second half as a football team than we did in the first half; in all three phases. Earlier in that game we dumped a punt on the ground, we dumped a kick off on the ground and we did a pick six. Those types of things don’t help your cause unfortunately. Our guys didn’t blink. We just kept grinding and played better the second half.”
On Peyton Manning mentioning anything about the sticky towels:
“We have addressed the towels. I have not given the towels a second thought. To my knowledge, the league says you can’t use them so we don’t.”
On the altitude being an advantage by training in Denver year-round:
“Being a P.E. major, I know physiologically in an NFL schedule it is a little harder to adapt on that short time. I can’t speak to anything else other than as an opponent when I have been here either at old Mile High or now Sports Authority (stadium), I think it is a factor particularly early. I can’t speak to how much it is a factor.”
On Chargers wide receiver Eddie Royal claiming the altitude conditioning helped on the road:
“Eddie is probably a much better guy to talk to about that. My heart rate does not get real high just walking around on the sidelines. From a players’ perspective, I think they would have a little more information.”
On what he said during half time in the last matchup against San Diego:
“It was no speech. There were no magic words. It comes down to players taking care of business between those lines. I think our guys understood that. Obviously it was an excelled effort on their part. We were able to fight back and get a victory.”
On what he has told Trindon Holliday to prevent him flipping the ball in the end zone:
“We call it the “Holiday Rule” and he has to bring it to our special teams coach on the sideline, Jeff Rodgers.”
On the height of the Chargers’ receiving group presenting trouble in match ups:
“No doubt. Norv Turner has historically had big receivers. A year ago he did and Danario Alexander has come in and that long play he made against Tampa was a huge explosive play, breaking two tackles. They do create matchup problems and I’m sure that will be no different this Sunday.”
On the probability that defensive end Elvis Dumervil will play against the Chargers on Sunday:
“He is day to day. He did not participate today. We will see what tomorrow brings. Other than the fact that he is day to day, it is hard for me to predict.”
On relaying the stakes of this game to his team:
“You’re in this league long enough to where no matter what division you are in, division games are all red letter games. They are very important and they count more. On your total win-loss record they all mean the same but in the division, the conference I think it is pretty self-explanatory. I think both locker rooms understand the importance of this game.”
On whether he predicted the Broncos’ young defensive backs making big plays this year:
“That is why they are on our 53-man roster. Our guys understand that sometimes there are unlikely heroes in games. You have to do your job and make plays. Both of those young men have done a good job so far.”
On running back Ronnie Hillman:
“He is easing his way in and earning more time. He had a little bit of a setback because he had injuries in camp. He was a little bit behind. Obviously we saw enough of him to like him and kept him on the squad. He’s earned more and more play time each week.”
On following the San Diego State Aztecs:
“A couple weeks ago we had that big win over Boise State. We also have our long snapper here Aaron Brewer. We are starting to surround ourselves with Aztecs.”
On being a graduate assistant at San Diego State in 1978:
“I had to do my fifth year. I worked on my teaching credential. It was basically another year of scholarship and I didn’t have much of a paycheck. That definitely helped my cause moving forward and I’ll always be appreciative. I worked with the secondary. It was good to get my feet wet. It helped me out educationally.”
On his time coaching for the Chargers in 1992 and 1993:
“It was great. I have all the respect in the word for (former head coach) Bobby Ross. I got to see him at the Junior Seau memorial when he spoke. I got to spend some time with him prior to the actual event. It was great seeing him. He’s a great coach and a great person. Obviously that was a great experience for me.”
Wide receiver Eric Decker
As a team, are the Broncos aware of what a win against the Chargers would mean for them in the AFC West?
“San Diego has been tough in recent years and we haven’t beaten them twice in a year for I want to say six or seven years, whatever it may be. We have to dial-in and play well this weekend in order to give us an opportunity to have a bigger spread. That’s been our focus. We’re just focusing in on what we need to do to beat this team because the last time we played them, they shut us out in the first half. They played unbelievable and we made a good comeback. We just need to be more consistent.”
Do you feel that when your team is playing their best football, they can beat the Chargers?
“When we’re playing our best football I think that we can be more consistent. We’re able to put drives together, score points and be able to compete with anybody. But as far as shutting someone out or blowing them out, San Diego has a very explosive offense and they have a great defense. So it’s not that simple. We have to go and score points to win the game because they’re just as capable of scoring points. Last time we played they put up 24 in the first half, so we’re going to have to be ready to go.”
Do you think that the Chargers want this game more than the Broncos?
“Because it is a division game there’s always some extra juice that goes into it. We expect them to be hungry coming into our house where we haven’t beat them for a while. They’re going to give us their best game, so we’re going to have to match their intensity and be able to play at that high level in order to give ourselves a chance to win.”
What was your relationship like with (wide receiver) Eddie Royal when he was with the Broncos?
“Eddie is a great guy and I have a lot of respect for him. He was just a great teammate and a good friend. He was a very quiet guy, but when you got into meetings he was a funny guy. He’s a very explosive player and he can be a game-changer. He’s had some injuries and is banged up, but if you get the ball in his hands, especially a punt-return, he can turn the game around. We have to make sure that we focus in on his abilities.”
What is the biggest difference between catching passes from Peyton Manning this year over Tim Tebow last year?
“I’d say that the biggest difference is that you have to be ready on every play and you have to know every position. Honestly there isn’t just a position for every guy. You can be on the right side, left side or in the slot and you have to know the concept of the play. You have to make sure that you know your route, get in the right spot and know the adjustments. You have to make sure that you’re ready because Peyton is going to find the open guy. I would say that as a receiver it’s been more work, but that’s what it’s all about. There’s extra individual time that you get during practice to run your routes, perfect certain techniques and just talk football. You’re more focused, but it doesn’t mean that you try any harder or anything. It just means that there’s opportunity for the receivers to make plays.”
Does Peyton (Manning) let you know when you’re not doing your job correctly?
“Of course. If he hasn’t gotten on you, you haven’t played a snap, so to speak. Everyone is obviously going to make mistakes, and that’s why we practice almost every day is to kind of perfect that before every game. Since day-one he’s been on everyone’s tail about the right depth, making the right adjustments and knowing who you block in the running game as receivers. I think that’s what’s so great about him as a leader is that his communication is non-stop. It’s about perfecting every little detail and making sure that everyone knows why we’re doing what we’re doing. There’s a reason behind everything and that comes with the communication of why he’s such a great leader.”
Has Peyton Manning’s arm-strength changed since you caught passes from him this summer?
“I haven’t seen his arm get any different to be honest. When he came in here he was throwing the ball just like I had seen him throw in Indianapolis and still to this day he’s kept his endurance and his stamina with his arm-strength. He’s got some zip on the ball when he wants it and that’s why he’s so good is his accuracy and finding an open guy.”
On the mindset of the last Monday night game that a team is never out of a game:
“You learn quickly that it’s not over until it’s over, especially with number 18 at the helm. I think that the situation that we were in, we were somewhere we could have that momentum going into that second half. So to be able to come back on Monday night against a very good football team, we were able to get the confidence to get us until the last whistle.”
Do you see something with the Chargers that would explain why they’re having trouble finishing games?
“From our game, I think that we just played one of the best halves as a team. Defensively we had some big turnovers and some scores. Offensively we were able to put some big points on the board. That’s hard to stop when you’re on the other side. I can’t point out a reason why they’ve faltered from that, but we were just playing our best football and being consistent. And we really fed off our offense and defense, even the special teams with the opportunities that they were creating.”
Do you think that living and training at a high altitude is an advantage in terms of stamina and energy?
“If you live here year-round like I do, I do believe that it’s an advantage because scientifically, you produce more red blood cells than you do at sea-level. When you go down to sea-level, those red blood cells give you more oxygen and give you the endurance and stamina. It definitely makes it tougher to train here, but once the game day comes and you’re on the road at sea-level, it makes it easier on a player.”
Do you think that the extra bit of stamina has contributed to the team’s success in the fourth quarter?
“I would say that it probably has a little bit to do with it. And Coach (John) Fox structures his practices in a way that portrays the attitude that we have to be able to finish. A lot of times at the beginning of the season we struggled to start the game but we always knew how to finish. That was always a strength for us because it comes down to an attitude, the way you train and the way you do everything as far as meetings, lifting and practice.”
Do you remember what was said at halftime on Monday night against the Chargers?
“I think that we kind of looked at each other and asked, ‘What are we doing?’ We hurt ourselves with the mental errors and a couple of turnovers . We realized that we can’t get behind like that and expect to come back and win. It was basically ‘Buckle-up, get ready to finish this second half and play better’. There wasn’t anything miraculous that was said or done by a coach or player. I think that we all just knew what we had to do going into that second half to get back in the game.”
Do you have enough faith in your head coach that if you had a 24-point lead, he would manage the game in such a way that you couldn’t possibly lose the game?
“I think that our coaching staff is the one of the best I’ve ever had, and I do have a lot of confidence and trust in them that no matter what the situation is that they’re going to use the best ability to make sure that if we are ahead, we’re not going to lose the lead and if we’re behind we have the best game plan to come back and be aggressive.”
Has Peyton Manning pulled any pranks on you?
“He’s got a great personality. When you’re in the meetings and on the practice field it’s straight business, but once you’re off the field and away from football he’s definitely got a sense of humor and he likes to joke with everybody. That’s the best thing about him is that he’s so personable, yet he demands the best out of you. He’ll get on you, but he’ll have fun with you and get to know you at a personal level. Part of that comes with the teasing.”
Did you see any differences defensively with the Chargers in the second half of the Monday night game that jumped out at you?“Not really. I think that they played a very similar defense all the way through the game. I think that we just maybe started running the ball better. We’re weren’t making mistakes as far as who we were blocking or what side of the ball we were running to. We made some adjustments in terms of how they align against us. In the passing game we were able to make plays when the ball was in the air.”