Posted Wed Nov 12th by Monty
Denver Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Jay Cutler took the mic Wednesday in their weekly presser. The running back situation – what with the additions of Tatum Bell and Alex Haynes this week after the Broncos placed their fourth RB on IR this season – dominated the discussion.
“He was the only one left,” Mike Shanahan joked when asked about Bell’s return to the Broncos. “No, Tatum has played well when he has played here. He has averaged around five yards (per carry) and when you take a look at his production it kind of gives you an idea of how successful he has been as a running back. Obviously we needed somebody that is familiar with our system and our terminology. I don’t think he’s in great football shape yet, but hopefully in a short time he will be.”
“If I didn’t know him personally,” Shanahan continued, “he would not be here. But I do know him and I know what he’s done for me. That’s the reason why he is here.”
Meanwhile, Cutler told reporters that these injuries weren’t going to keep the Broncos from running the football. “We are still going to have to run the ball, and that is a given. You have to be able to run the ball and stop the run to win in this league. We are going to have to find someone to get it done.”
Cutler expressed confidence in Bell to get the job done. “Tatum is an explosive back and he has a lot of speed. He understands the offense and is familiar with our lingo and terminology. He should be able to step in and be an immediate impact hopefully.”
Kyle’s take: This running game has me nervous. Really, really nervous. Bell not in football shape? He better get there quick. Hopefully they get Peyton Hillis more involved in the one-back sets because Bell doesn’t sound like he’s 100% ready for the NFL yet. Sadly though, they’re the best options we’ve got.
More quotes from Shanny and JC below.
HEAD COACH MIKE SHANAHAN
On the reason for signing RB Tatum Bell
“He was the only one left. No, Tatum has played well when he has played here. He has averaged around five yards (per carry) and when you take a look at his production it kind of gives you an idea of how successful he has been as a running back. Obviously we needed somebody that is familiar with our system and our terminology. I don’t think he’s in great football shape yet, but hopefully in a short time he will be.
“If I didn’t know him personally, he would not be here. But I do know him and I know what he’s done for me. That’s the reason why he is here.”
On getting extra rest after a Thursday game
“It was very helpful for us because we were banged up a little bit. An extra day of practice and a few more days of recovery time really helps. To find a way to win with those setbacks was a really test of character for our players. To fight through some of that adversity and find a way to win tells a lot about those guys.”
On whether he is looking forward to seeing Atlanta K Jason Elam
“Not really. I like to see him as a person but not kicking on the other team. He’s had a great year—19-for-21—just a typical Jason year. He has played extremely well.”
“They have done a great job with their running game. They take a lot of pressure off their quarterback (Matt Ryan) by being very successful running the football. (RB Michael) Turner has really helped them. They have done a great job with him, and he was a great addition to their team. They have an excellent quarterback that can throw the football. He is very polished, he has great mechanics and he’s ahead of the curve as a rookie because he has such great fundamentals and he reads coverages extremely well. The type of offense they are running really utilizes his talents right now.
“Defensively, I think they made a big jump from a year ago. They were running a lot of double coverage and they caused (Saints QB) Drew Brees some problems, which most teams can’t do. That kind of gives you an idea of how well they are playing. They are a much-improved football team—special teams—in almost every area they are ahead of the curve. They have been impressive.”
On FB Peyton Hillis playing at running back
“We have done the same thing with some of our other guys. (Former RB) Reuben Droughns came in, we lost three tailbacks at that time (2004) and he was our last guy standing. He proved himself to be a very good player. Peyton has done the same thing. Obviously, in the second half versus Cleveland we weren’t really prepared to have him as a tailback. We thought he went in there and handled himself well. We talked about a couple packages that he might play in if we lost two running backs, and he handled the situation very well.”
QUARTERBACK JAY CUTLER
On beating Cleveland last Thursday
“We knew coming into this game, we looked at the schedule and we knew after the Miami game we would have a short week. It was a great win for us, especially going away. That is even tougher. Basically we had Tuesday, a half day on Wednesday and then we had to get on the plane. It gave us Friday, Saturday and Sunday off, which was big for us with the injuries we have.”
On if it was important to have extra time following the Cleveland game
“Yes, especially in the second half of the season because guys are banged up a little bit. It gives guys time to heal and 10 days to prepare for the next game.”
On the injuries at running back
“We are bringing some guys in. We are still going to have to run the ball, and that is a given. You have to be able to run the ball and stop the run to win in this league. We are going to have to find someone to get it done.”
On the empty backfield set used against Cleveland
“We didn’t have a choice. We were down to Peyton (Hillis), and he wasn’t 100 percent familiar with what we were doing from a lot of one-back sets. We had that package in just in case and a lot of the guys made some great plays for me. I threw it up a few times and they came down with it. We have had some good opportunities. Going into the Thursday game, I don’t think they had a big package for empty (backfield). They put in a second call for the red zone. They were going to play Cover-2 and hope for the best.”
On Atlanta’s defense
“They are really good on third downs and they get turnovers. I think they are 30-35 percent on third downs and any time you are doing that as a defense you are getting off the field and giving your offense a better opportunity to score. They control the ball offensively, they don’t have a lot of turnovers and they don’t put their defense in a lot of bad positions. They are a solid football team and they are getting better and better each week.”
On having RB Tatum Bell in the backfield
“Tatum is an explosive back and he has a lot of speed. He understands the offense and is familiar with our lingo and terminology. He should be able to step in and be an immediate impact hopefully.”
On playing Atlanta in an early game (1 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. MST)
“It is tough, but it is the second half of the season and we don’t have any time for excuses. We have to get ready to play whether it is 7 a.m. or 7 at night. We have to find a way.”