DeCamillis sees new wrinkles in familiar Bears special teams**
While there's a certain focus on the coaching matchup with former Broncos head coach John Fox across the sideline for Chicago, Denver has a former Bear on its staff, as well, with Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis.
However, in a year's time, the Bears and their new special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers have made some tweaks in personnel to change up what DeCamillis did previously.
"They've changed a lot of personnel," DeCamillis said. "When you turn the tape on, there's a lot of different linebackers that weren't there. They've changed a lot of people out, so it's a little bit different watching their team, to be honest with you."
One part that hasn't changed is wide receiver Marc Mariani returning punts and kicks. The Bears signed Mariani in November of 2014, giving the 2010 Pro Bowler his first shot at a return to the NFL since breaking his leg in 2012. Chicago is still confident in Mariani, and he has been an effective specialist for them, averaging 24.7 yards on kickoff returns and 7.2 yards on punt returns. However, he's fumbled three punt return attempts, including one that the opposing team recovered.
"He had some production for us last year toward the end of the year," DeCamillis said. "He's had a couple drops, but knowing that kid, he's going to be working twice as hard trying to get those corrected. But he's a guy who has three touchdowns in his career, and he's a solid guy. So we've got to make sure we tackle well and get after him, for sure."
And, of course, heading to the Windy City is bound to raise some concerns with kicking because the stadium is right off Lake Michigan.
"It is tough kicking there," DeCamillis said. "There's the wind and just certain ways the ball flies there. It's difficult, plus the turf, sometimes, is a little bit shaky. It's going to be a challenge for us, no question."
- Ben Swanson
Penalties continue to be a point of emphasis for Phillips
The Broncos saw improvement in penalties in Week 10 against the Chiefs, but aggression stemming from frustration continues to doom the Broncos defense. Against the Colts in Week 9, the Broncos struggled with seven defensive penalties, including one that resulted in the one-game suspension of cornerback Aqib Talib.
While the Broncos defense cut its penalties against Kansas City to just two, one resulted in the ejection of safety T.J. Ward.
Both Ward and Talib's penalties were after the play ended.
"I've been talking, berating or whatever—I think whatever it takes," said Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips. "We did cut down on penalties, obviously, but we had one out of frustration. You can't have those. I said the post-play penalties are really unacceptable.
"We were working hard on not having them during the game, certainly, and we did a lot better job of that, but after the play, there's no excuse for that. […] They have to believe what you're saying—that you're being selfish when you get a penalty after the play."
Wade's request for a reduction in penalties doesn't mean that he wants his team to be any less aggressive, especially this week. Phillips has seen a lot out of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler this season.
"Cutler is playing as well as I have seen him play. He's obviously been a real talent for a long time," Phillips said. "Anytime that you play a quarterback that can win the game himself, those are the really good quarterbacks. […] He seems to have his confidence. He knows where he's going with the football and he's always been a good at scrambling around to throw it and find people are open in coverage. It's going to be a real challenge for our pass defense."
- Allie Raymond
Dennison not changing offense with Osweiler starting
As Brock Osweiler prepares to make his first NFL start, he brings a different set of skills to the offense from Peyton Manning, most notable of which is his mobility. With how the offense works, Osweiler is a bit better suited for the bootlegs that let him roam the field and extend plays. However, that doesn't mean the offense is going to look much different.
"It's the same football playbook," Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison said. "We've been under center, we've been in the pistol and we've been in [shot]gun. We can expect all three could happen on Sunday. We're not coaching them any different."
And that extends to Osweiler, who said Wednesday that he hasn't changed anything in regards to his weekly preparation.
"it is his fourth year now, so he's been around it," Dennison said. "He understands. Our whole approach is it's not just Brock against the Bears. It's the Broncos. You're a part of the deal. Do your job. We've coached you. You've got a bunch of really good players behind you. We'll put you in the right spot, and just keep working at it.
"Take what you've got. You don't have to force anything. We've got a run game. We've got enough people that we could spread the ball and make plays. Don't try to win it all on one play. We're trying to progress the ball downfield, as always, move the chains and score points."
- Ben Swanson