In the closing seconds of his first regular season game with the Broncos, Head Coach Josh McDaniels had no idea how everything would pan out.
He did have an idea of what he could control: the play calls in the huddle.
“We knew what we were going to do,” McDaniels said. “We knew exactly what calls we were going to make. We didn’t, obviously, know the result, but we knew what we were going to call.”
That confidence stems from McDaniels’ commitment to situational football. Early on in training camp, the Broncos were subject to not only wearing pads, but a bevy of situational drills.
At the team’s open night practice at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 6, mock situations included the following: Blue 14, White 13 – 2:00 left in the 4th quarter, 1st-and-10 White at its own 30-yard line.
Last Sunday’s situation in Cincinnati was markedly similar, but with even greater difficulty. Bengals 7, Broncos 6 – 0:38 left in the 4th quarter, 1st-and-10 Denver at its own 13-yard line.
The goal in both cases was for preparation to win out come crunch time — which happened when Brandon Stokley’s 87-yard touchdown catch gave the Broncos the win.
“There is always something that you haven’t thought of, but you try to make sure that you are as prepared as possible,” McDaniels said. “Most importantly, you try to make sure that the players are as prepared as possible, going through as many situations as you can put them through on the field so that they feel comfortable when something is called in a big situation. They can feel like they have actually run it before.”
On the Broncos side, Russ Hochstein did not participate in Friday’s session. The cause was not injury related. On the Browns side, running back Jamal Lewis and defensive lineman Shaun Rogers both went from limited participants on Thursday to full participants on Friday. Each is listed as probable for Sunday’s 2:15 p.m. kickoff.
Here are some more photos from today’s practice.
–Chris Gentilviso, DenverBroncos.com