Entering the final month of the regular season in the NFL, teams hope to play their best football of the season in order to gain momentum for a potential postseason run.
To do that, the Broncos are going above and beyond normal procedures as they continue to raise the bar of expectations. In addition to the standard meetings that every team holds throughout the week in which players and coaches analyze film and look for opportunities to improve, the players are first meeting as a unit before being joined by the coaches.
“If they watch it as a unit together, they can talk among each other and figure out how they can get better and where the mistakes are,” Elway said. “When they talk about it with each other, they take control and take accountability for what their actions are.”
It shows the trust that Head Coach John Fox has in his players to be productive as they interact with one another. It also sets the table for when the coaches come in and the entire team breaks down film together.
“John has been great with trusting the players and trusting the fact that they know they need to get better,” Elway said. “So the players will watch it together and then the coaches go in after that and there’s conversation back and forth between the players and coaches. The players have created their own opinions on the game and where they could get better.”
Elway also hit on the usual topics in the 30-minute podcast, hosted by Broncos TV’s Chris Hall. The football boss first looked back on the team’s 17-9 win at Kansas City and spoke on what stuck out to him.
“They wanted to shorten the game,” Elway said. “They were top five as far as running the football and that’s what they did. They controlled the first half with their running game and had us backed up field position wise. We weren’t in great position. We did have the three-and-outs, so we didn’t get into a rhythm early and they did a good job of keeping us off the field offensively and running the football.”
But Elway added that the team would “much rather learn from wins than learn from losses,” noting that because of their victory in Week 12, the Broncos have an opportunity to clinch the AFC West with a victory on Sunday.
A huge part of the Broncos success in 2012 has been the defense. In the heart of that defense is linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who has made tremendous strides in his fifth NFL season. Elway talked extensively on Tuesday about Woodyard — the team’s leading tackler — and what has enabled his breakout season.
“I think he fits very well within the defense and what (Defensive Coordinator) Jack Del Rio is asking him to do, and plus the experience that he has gained,” Elway said. “Experience is crucial. He has learned a lot from all the time that he has got. He has gotten better. He has made that step from last year, plus he enjoys the defense he is playing in. When you play well, you play with confidence. The more you play well, the more confidence you have. He is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence right now.”
Elway added that Woodyard’s intensity and enthusiasm have proven to be contagious.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s contest against Tampa Bay at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Elway first hit on the talents of the Bucs’ outstanding rookie running back, Doug Martin.
“We’re going to have to concentrate on slowing him down,” Elway said. “He’s a guy that’s a three-down back. He can play all three downs, can run, catch and also block. A very well-rounded back.”
The Buccaneers have won four of their last five, and on Monday Head Coach John Fox said they were one of the hottest teams in the league.
“This is a good football team and they’re in the hunt for the playoffs on the NFC side,” Elway said. “So this is going to be a good test for us.”