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Broncos Notebook: A candid Vance Joseph sheds light on his 2-0 football team

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 18, 2018

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The sun is shining, it’s a victory Monday and the Denver Broncos are 2-0.

All is right in Broncos Country after two weeks of the NFL season.

Despite the hot start, though, head coach Vance Joseph isn’t being naive about his football team, and as he admitted Monday afternoon, there are plenty of areas of improvement.

After a night to review the film, Joseph was very candid about his football team on Monday afternoon. Here’s what we learned.

Uncertainty at Right Tackle

Jared Veldheer was the Broncos’ only significant injury following their 20-19 win over the Oakland Raiders. Veldheer, Denver’s starting right tackle and notable offseason pickup, left midway through Sunday’s game with a concussion and has been entered into the concussion protocol.

Monday, Joseph said, “We’ll see how he proceeds” through the protocol this week. If the veteran is unable to play, Billy Turner will be Denver’s starting right tackle on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

Turner filled in for Veldheer on Sunday and didn’t miss a beat against Oakland’s front seven.

“I felt great about Billy,” Joseph said, evaluating Turner’s performance against the Raiders. “No one talked about him, so that’s a good sign. We have great depth at the oline position. I wasn’t surprised he played well.”

No Change Needed

Phillip Lindsay is listed as the No. 3 running back on the Broncos’ most updated depth chart, but for all practical purposes, he was clearly the Broncos No. 1 running back on Sunday.

Lindsay went over 100 yards from scrimmage again on Sunday, becoming the first undrafted player to do that in his first two career games.

Despite that, Joseph doesn’t see a point in making a change to the team’s depth chart.

“It doesn’t matter,” Joseph stated of the rankings on the chart. “Our deal with that room is more about the gameplan, it’s what they do best, it’s the hot hand that day. We don’t have to make a depth chart change to get him more carries, or to get Royce [Freeman] more carries or to get [Devontae Booker] more carries.

Instead, Joseph is only concerned with what the team does on the field and how they handle the running back rotation during the game.

“To have three guys that are all different is really tough on defenses,” Joseph said. “[Lindsay] can be the three and still get 10 touches, or 12 or 14. ‘Book’ can be the two and still get seven or eight. It doesn’t matter who the starter is.”

For all of the No. 30 fans out there, don’t be concerned with where Lindsay is on the depth chart. If he keeps playing like he’s playing — currently on pace to rush for 1,424 yards — he’ll see the field, according to Joseph.

Football 101

Class is in session.

Every Friday afternoon the entire team meets in one big room and talks about situational football.

“Two minute and four minute and different penalties and those things,” Joseph explained on Monday. “I was proud of our guys and how they reacted to that two-minute drive with no timeouts.”

The Friday afternoon sessions clearly paid off on the team’s final game-winning drive.

After Emmanuel Sanders’ 21-yard completion to pick up the first down on 2nd-and-20 from their own 10-yard line, the veteran receiver ran the ball to the official in the middle of the field.

“We have no timeouts, so if he throws it outside, that guy throws to the hash and that’s five seconds, so he brings it to the guy that spots the ball,” Joseph said, explaining how Sanders decision helped the team. “That’s five seconds for us.”

Five plays later, with 26 seconds left, Jeff Heuerman caught a four-yard out route and immedaitely ran out of bounds to stop the clock.

Finally, two plays later, Tim Patrick made the play of the game, turning up the field to gain extra yards to set up a shorter field goal before running out of bounds to stop the clock.

All of that led to a game-winning Brandon McManus field goal with just six seconds left on the clock.

“Those guys were very aware that we didn’t have any timeouts and they played it smart,” Joseph said proudly.

Defense Not Aggressive Enough

The offense was not good in the first half, to put it lightly, but on Monday Joseph was critical of the other unit’s performance in the first half.

“You want to start faster. I thought yesterday defensively we weren’t aggressive enough in the first half,” Joseph said, before taking the blame on his shoulders. “I thought defensively we were too cautious about No. 30, No. 12, No. 87, No. 89, the running backs, so we played way too cautious.

“Our defense is based on rushing five, playing press-man coverage. In the first half we didn’t do that and it showed and we weren’t aggressive and they took advantage of us. In the second half, we got more aggressive and it showed and we played better. But that’s on me.”

In the first half, Denver’s defense bent, but didn’t break, only allowing 12 points. In the second half, the defense barely even bent, only allowing one touchdown.

Joseph took the heat for the way the defense played in the first half, saying he’s “always involved” in the defensive play calling. “It starts with me as far as how we call the defense,” he added.

Denver was “right on” on third downs, holding the Raiders to 0-for-5 in the first half and 3-for-10 in the entire game, but first and second down defense in the first half was “way too cautious,” according to the coach.

Adam Jones Hampered

In his second game wearing a Broncos uniform, cornerback Adam Jones was limited in the second half as he was a “little tight in the hamstrings.”

“He’s only been here now for three weeks so he needs to get in football shape,” Joseph said on Monday. “That’s half of Adam’s problem right now.”

Tramaine Brock stepped in for Jones in the second half and played well, racking up the second-most tackles on the team (six) to go along with a pass breakup.

After only playing in two defensive snaps in Week 1, Brock was on the field for 23 snaps against the Raiders.

Rotating Backers

The Broncos aren’t shy to rely on rookies and young players this year, as is evident with Lindsay, Freeman, Courtland Sutton, and Bradley Chubb, to name a few.

That was evident again on Sunday as linebacker Josey Jewell was on the field for part of the fourth quarter in place of veteran Brandon Marshall.

“Josey played good football, its isn’t about B-Marsh, it was more about Josey,” Joseph explained. “He played good football.”

Through the first two weeks of 2018, Denver is playing more nickel than they did last year, thus, relying on their inside linebackers more than they did last year.

Due to that, the Broncos want to rotate Jewell in with Marshall and Todd Davis to keep all three fresh.

“We would like to have a three-man rotation between Todd, B-Marsh and Josey,” Joseph stated. “That way they’re playing 40-to-45 snaps, not 60 snaps.”

On Sunday, Davis played in 57 of the team’s 65 defensive snaps, Marshall added 53 and Jewell supplemented the group with 13 snaps.


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