1:14 P.M. MDT: And now, we await the head coach, who is set to sit down at 1:30 p.m. MDT and answer questions one day after the humbling 41-3 loss to the San Diego Chargers. In five-plus years covering this team, I’ve seen two kinds of day-after-game press conferences following defeats of this magnitude (or close to it, since this team hasn’t lost by this many points in over a dozen years):
1) Short answers, quick questions and a five-minute gathering.
2) Lengthy answers — frequently introspective in nature — and questions that feed off these replies, leading to a 30-40-minute session.
I reckon we’ll find out which one is in store soon enough …
1:28 P.M. MDT: The sun came up today. Based on the reactions on message boards, TV stations, radio reports and even people with whom I’ve talked outside of this building today, I was a little stunned.
1:30 P.M. MDT: “Coach will be in in just a second,” announces Jim Saccomano.
1:33 P.M. MDT: Champ Bailey has a quad injury, and he “should be fine” for Pittsburgh, but Tom Nalen and Nate Jackson both suffered season-ending injuries Sunday with a torn biceps muscle and a torn groin, respectively.
1:33 P.M. MDT: Shanahan declined to get into what moves would be made to compensate for the loss of Nalen up front. Chris Myers has center experience from the University of Miami and was a backup at the position during training camp this year.
1:34 P.M. MDT: Shanahan said Nalen’s injury is not career-ending; it requires a four-month recovery time following surgery. He expects Nalen to be ready to go for next season.
1:35 P.M. MDT: On Nate Jackson: “For him to be out of that game, I knew it had to be serious, because he plays hurt, even injured,” Shanahan said. “It’s a bad tear, too, so it will take some time.”
1:36 P.M. MDT: The questions about center keep coming, and Shanahan again declined to get into specifics. He did say, however, that Ben Hamilton would have moved to center if he was healthy, “but that’s not an option, obviously.”
1:37 P.M. MDT: Bailey’s quadriceps injury was not a tear; the MRI was negative. “It’d say it’s sore,” Shanahan said.
1:37 P.M. MDT: Shanahan moves on to discussing the red-zone offense’s struggles — just one score, a field goal, from five possessions that moved inside the San Diego 35-yard-line.
1:38 P.M. MDT: Shanahan says he’s “not worried” about the state of his team going into the bye, and that major changes will not be made to the defense. “We’ve just got to get better at what we’re doing,” he said.
1:39 P.M. MDT: When asked whether he’s had a season similar to this, with the problems on the rushing defense, Shanahan said, “No.”
1:39 P.M. MDT: “It starts with me; I could get them better prepared and I didn’t do a good enough job getting them prepared,” Shanahan said when asked whether the defense’s struggles reflect upon assistant head coach/defense Jim Bates.
1:40 P.M. MDT: “It’s my job to make sure they (the players) feel more comfortable week in and week out. When you get beat like that, you didn’t do a good job.”
1:41 P.M. MDT: The Broncos will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before leaving town for the bye week, he said. “You get plenty of rest … They get plenty of time to rest. We’ve got work to do and we’ll try to get that done in the next couple of days.”
1:41 P.M. MDT: “There were some positives — which we don’t need to get into,” Shanahan said. “I’m encouraged. Even though yesterday wasn’t a good representation about this football team, I’m encouraged.”
1:42 P.M. MDT: There will be both some game preparation and a return to training-camp style fundamentals at practice this week, he said.
1:43 P.M. MDT: “We’ve got to do the little things better, and when you do the little things better, you’ve got a chance to improve.
1:43 P.M. MDT: Offensive-line injuries are more difficult to deal with, he acknowledged, because of the time it requires to learn the position.
1:44 P.M. MDT: “We’re not going to get specific and you can ask the question about 1,000 different ways,” Shanahan said when asked about the linebackers and their role in the run-defense struggles.
1:44 P.M. MDT: On fans leaving early: “I would have left, too.”
1:45 P.M. MDT: Cites Indianapolis’ defense last year as reason to believe that his defense this year can turn around.
1:45 P.M. MDT: Said Travis Henry’s ankle is “fine” after yesterday’s game.
1:46 P.M. MDT: “Any time you use a great player, it hurts you,” Shanahan said of Nalen. “He’s a captain, a great leader, he played three quarters with a torn biceps … There was no way he was going to come out. It gives you an idea of his mental toughness.”
1:47 P.M. MDT: Said that more time will be spent working on snaps so Jay Cutler can get used to his new center — whomever it turns out to be — and vice versa.
1:47 P.M. MDT: Said he’ll have a better feel on Rod Smith’s status at the midway point of the season, and that he’s making strides and jogging right now.
1:48 P.M. MDT: And, that’s it … 15 minutes. Twice as long as the last few weeks, but not the 30-minute end-of-season opus.