DENVER --On Tuesday evening, Sports Authority Field at Mile High got a little taste of football.
Thanks to U.S. Bank and Del Frisco's, Broncos suite holders and sponsors got a chance to spend "A Night with the Coaches."
Head Coach John Fox, Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio, Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase and Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers each chatted with emcee Dave Logan and took questions from the crowd at the exclusive event.
Topics broached included Denver's additions through free agency and the draft, a Week 3 matchup with Seattle, construction at the team's Dove Valley headquarters and even pushing back the extra point.
Below are the highlights from the night's Q&A.
On bouncing back from last season:
"When you don't win your last game -- there's only one team that gets to experience that, and we want to be that team. That's our goal. That's really our No. 1 goal. It starts the minute that game's over. Whether it was the first year -- losing in the playoffs at New England -- whether it was two years ago losing at home against Baltimore or whether it was losing the Super Bowl -- I know that was a big disappointment for everybody in this room -- but you learn from it and you try to improve from it. We've worked very hard. I think it's probably been the most productive offseason. I think our team is even more hungry than it was the previous two years. Luke Richesson, our strength coach, has told me, 'Coach, I've never in my years as as strength and conditioning coach seen a team work this hard.' So our guys are at it already and have been for the last three weeks. We're in what we call Phase Two. Our coaches have them now, and it's an incredibly good group. I think we've improved the talent level. We've gotten a lot of the injured folks we lost along the way a year ago back, and I think people will like what they see."
On whether the matchup with Seattle is Denver's biggest regular-season game in 2014:
"It'll be a very important game. I really can't think of a much bigger stage than to lose to Baltimore in the playoff game here at home a year ago and then to open the NFL season on Thursday night in front of the world -- that was pretty big. But they all count the same. I know it sounds like coachspeak, but it's really true. They don't count as two losses; you don't get two wins. It's one game. I don't think that early in the season it's going to define our season. They're all big -- you only get 16 of them. Down the road, they have implications. Just like every year, this year our goal will be to win the AFC West, to win our division, because when that happens you're guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Again, this year -- just like every year -- we'll try to create home-field advantage, which I think was a huge thing this past season. Then, ultimately, winning and hoisting that Super Bowl Lombardi Trophy, and this year it will be in Arizona, is our goal."
JACK DEL RIO
On free agency:
"I had a wish list. I said, you know, if I could make it happen it would be a dominant rush end, a strong safety that will come up and really strike fear in an offense and really be a tone-setter, and a premium corner. I said, that would be my wish list. There's no way we'll get that done, but I'd love to see that happen. Any way you can make that happen, Mr. Elway? But John pulled it off! You've got to be kidding me! That was outstanding! But no, it was a great collection. Our offseason has been one where, as Coach Fox said, as a football team we want to improve. Every year you look to improve. We made a choice to go after a couple star players and made it happen. I'm not sure how we pulled it off, but that was a good get. And that was the beginning, because we obviously had the draft as well. But those free agents coming in here, they're all mature guys, they've all kind of cut their teeth already, they're all proven players in this league and they're going to plug in real well for our defense."
On adding that much talent:
"When you have guys like DeMarcus (Ware) and Von (Miller), if you have just one, they can slide protection to that guy. When you have two, it makes it very difficult to slide protection. And if you're too busy fanning out to protect them both, then you're vulnerable to things up the middle and other places. It gives you an opportunity to put more pressure on the offense. And then from a coverage standpoint, having a guy like Aqib (Talib), he's a premium corner. He's a guy that can go out and match up on the top wideout of any other team. So having that kind of guy on the roster allows you to then put a player of his caliber across from a talented wide receiver and not feel the need to provide a safety over the top all day."
On the defensive scheme:
"The idea is to not let the quarterback get comfortable. What helps a quarterback not be comfortable is to have corners that can cover and defensive ends that can rush. Then they make every design that you have look a lot better -- that's just the way it is. So good coaching goes hand-in-hand with good players, and then you can have great production. We expect to be a great defense."
On adding Emmanuel Sanders and the growth of Montee Ball
"We were extremely happy Emmanuel (Sanders) lasted as long as he did in free agency. We were a little bit surprised -- he was our top guy. It was one of those dialogues back-and-forth with Coach Fox, John Elway -- I'd get a text every once in a while, 'Hey, I think Emmanuel's back in this.' When we signed him, that was a big signing for us and filled a big void for us. We see him being a big contributor. We have four veteran guys at the wide receiver position that we're very excited about, then obviously the young guy (second-round pick Cody Latimer) is coming in. Then with Montee (Ball), he developed probably better than any other player that we had last year as far as making huge strides. Montee came in, it took him a minute to realize what was going on -- that's why Knowshon (Moreno) played so much earlier. We balanced it out, then Montee really came on and was big for us late in the season, and in the playoffs he was really good. He really carried a big load for us."
"We expect big things from him this year."
On pushing back the extra point:
"They're going to tinker with it a little bit in the preseason. We'll see how it goes. I'm not sure it's going to change the game as much as it may change some head coaches' decision-making in the preseason to maybe try out a few two-point conversions. We'll see if we can an extra period during practice to work on those things. We'll see. I really don't think it will change all that much, but certainly with rule changes, fourth down seems to be a focus."
On the team's returner in 2014:
"There are some guys we have on our team who have done it. Emmanuel Sanders has done it. Wes Welker has done it. Omar Bolden was our returner at one point. Andre Caldwell went to the house against Tennessee and it got called back. There are some options with guys who have played in this league. (Bradley) Roby, our first-round pick, has done kickoff return. We picked up a free agent that we liked, Isaiah Burse from Fresno State, who had some production. So there are some options. We'll see how it plays out."
"It'll be an exciting battle for us in training camp."