In the third weekly episode of Elway Access, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway and Broncos TV’s Chris Hall looked back on the team’s Week 3 loss to the Texans, and then moved forward to the Oakland Raiders.
The Broncos lost at home to the Texans on Sunday afternoon by a score of 31-25 after another comeback attempt fell short.
It was the second time in a row the Broncos fell behind early, and Elway will look for the team to stress consistency – in all quarters of the game – as they prepare for the Oakland Raiders in Week 4.
“The urgency has to be there from minute one like it is minute 55, 56, 57, 58, and (we have to) understand the urgency that it takes to be successful, especially against good football teams,” Elway said. “These last two games were good tests for us to see exactly where we are, and they’ve proven to us that we need to continue to work and get better.”
Houston’s first two touchdowns of the game came on deep pass completions. Discussing those plays, Elway first credited Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak and his personnel for creating opportunities off the run, in addition to Matt Schaub for throwing two perfect passes.
He also explained that a new, aggressive defense means that it takes a bit for players to become completely acclimated.
“It’s an aggressive defense,” Elway said. “The safeties are involved in the running game a lot of times. We do different things in coverage that it gets complicated at times. We just have to continue to get better at it and also be aware of not trying to give up these big plays.”
Elway also touched on the one-game suspension that linebacker Joe Mays was dealt on Tuesday in response to a hit on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub.
Mays was flagged for the hit, and after the game he apologized to Schaub.
Elway said that purposely injuring someone on the football field just isn’t the type of player Mays is.
“This is a guy that plays the game fast,” Elway said. “He’s a very physical, strong, tough football player. I admire Joe by the way that he plays the game. I also know that Joe isn’t a guy that intentionally goes out there to try and hurt somebody. He was just playing football hard, and unfortunately he caught a piece of Schaub’s helmet with his head.”
While Mays is out against Oakland, it’s a possibility that Denver will welcome back a team captain in guard Chris Kuper, who has been out since suffering a forearm injury on Aug. 14.
“He’ll be practicing and get back into the swing of things this week, so we’ll see how the week goes,” Elway said. “Any time you have a guy that’s a team leader like ‘Kup’ is, it’ll be nice to have him back out there in pads and back involved.”
Looking ahead to the Raiders, Elway called the upcoming game “huge” because it’s a home game for Denver and it’s a divisional contest. He also pointed out that the Broncos haven’t beaten Oakland at home since 2007.
The primary focus for the offense will be on running back Darren McFadden. The Raiders running back has had success against the Broncos in years past, and on Sunday showed that he has fully recovered from a 2011 knee injury with a 113-yard performance that included a touchdown.
“It’s always about stopping the run,” Elway said. “Darren McFadden, no question, is back. He had a 64-yarder last week and is a big-play back. We did a good job against Houston stopping the run later in the game. We’re going to have our hands full with Darren McFadden because he’s one of the top running backs in the league.”
Though the team is coming off two straight losses as it faces Oakland, the way in which the club lost and the quality of the opponents provides Elway with some optimism.
“If we continue to do what we do, and not make the mistakes we’re making, and go play with consistency, then we can beat anybody,” Elway said.