ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Now one game removed from the bye week and Head Coach John Fox's surgery, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway sat down with Chris Hall of Broncos TV to talk about the state of the team as they prepare to play the undefeated Chiefs in the Week 11 edition of the Elway Access Podcast presented by US Bank Flex Perks.
Interim Head Coach/Defense Coordinator Jack Del Rio now has one game under his belt in his new role – a 28-20 win in San Diego. Elway said that he knew that Del Rio was the "perfect fit" to take over as the interim head coach in Fox's absence.
"I had confidence in Jack that we weren't going to miss a beat," Elway said. "I think he knows what John's about and to be able to take the reins from what John has started here, I think that was an easy transition for Jack."
That transition has been aided by what Elway described as a good and mature locker room that has shown the ability to remain focused through adversity.
Though the Broncos picked up the win in San Diego, quarterback Peyton Manning was slow to get up late in the game with an apparent ankle injury. Elway said that he knows what it's like to have 37-year-old ankles and sometimes they just need a little extra recovery time.
Manning did not practice Wednesday but did return to the practice field Thursday and has said all along that he expects to play Sunday against the Chiefs.
The Chiefs not only bring with them to Denver a perfect record, but also the best pass rush in the NFL – putting a premium on giving Manning as much time as possible in the pocket.
"The Chiefs lead the league in sacks right now," Elway said. "We know that they are a formidable pass rushing football team. And I think we'll pull it in, we'll do that realizing that we can't afford to get Peyton hit. Number one, just because you never want your quarterback getting hit and when he is getting hit that means the ball is going to have to come out quicker and you don't take full advantage of the passing game."
In the 2012 season, the Chiefs went 2-14 and lost twice to the Broncos, but this season – with new Head Coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith – the Chiefs are at the top of the standings.
Elway said that he has a "great deal of respect" for Reid and he thinks that the players' respect for him has a lot to do with the success they've had this season. Sunday, the Broncos will have a chance to be the first blemish on Kansas City's record.
"Looking at it from the outside, when you look at the Chiefs, we always knew they were a talented football team," Elway said. "It was a matter of getting that talent and everybody going on the same page and I think when you have a guy like Andy Reid who has been in this league as long as he has and has also been a head coach, I think 14 years in Philadelphia where he had four straight years they were in the NFC Championship game – players have a great deal of respect for him and I think that that's showing.
"The things that he's done in the past that he's doing now, resonates with players. That's why he's turned them around so quickly."