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Mason's Mailbag: Special teams looks to build off strong game

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Is the special-teams unit back on track?**

-- Tom Rodriguez

You don't want to jump to conclusions based off of one game, but last week's loss to Philadelphia saw what was likely the best overall performance on special teams, with only a penalty on a first-quarter kickoff return marring the unit's performance.

What was interesting from Special Teams Coordinator Brock Olivo's question-and-answer session Friday was how he wants his unit to push for more. For example, when he was asked about Isaiah McKenzie's 44-yard return, he noted that if McKenzie had taken another angle as he sprinted upfield, he could have gone the distance.

"If Isaiah stays outside, hits the sideline and just trusts his speed, it's a house call, it's a touchdown," Olivo said. "We're right there, but it's not good enough. We have to get over the hump and once we do that, then the hope is that that will be contagious and that will spark the cultural change.

"We have to believe every time we take the field that we're going to score and we have that opportunity. If we do that, then that will lead to that."

Olivo's reference to "cultural change" came a few minutes after he talked about how the culture of "guys who take pride in special teams" hasn't been created yet. "We have a couple [of those players]," he said, citing examples that included wide receivers Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler III, tight end Virgil Green, fullback Andy Janovich and safeties Will Parks and Justin Simmons. "But it needs to be contagious. It needs to spread throughout that meeting room and be translated onto the practice field. That's on me. I have to create that and that's why I'm here, I've realized that. I've come up short up to this point. I owe it to the franchise, this staff and this team to get that thing rolling."


Good day to you -- so I have been watching or listening to or looking at Broncos football since 1960. I believe this is the first time anyone has put over 50 points on the Broncos since 2010. But that is memory not fact. I played (not well) and love the game of football. When someone puts 50 or more points on a team I think a coach has lost his team some time ago -- what do you think?**

-- Dudley Gardner

With all respect, I think your theory is not supported by facts.

In the last decade, five teams have made the postseason after allowing 50 or more points at one point during the season, including one that went to the Super Bowl and another that was coached by a Hall of Famer (the 2007 Redskins, coached by Joe Gibbs, lost 52-7 at New England). In 1998, the Jacksonville Jaguars won a playoff game just two weeks after losing 50-10 to the Minnesota Vikings. Heck, the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles lost 52-20 to the Broncos in September and were 3-5 at midseason, then went 7-1 in the second half of the campaign to claim the NFC East crown.


These five individual matchups could go a long way in deciding who comes out on top on Sunday between the Broncos and Patriots.

Will Chad Kelly be considered a Broncos QB in the future?**

-- Berni Spradley

He'll have the chance to develop and grow as a pro quarterback. The rest will not only depend on him, but how the competition at the position shapes up next year and beyond. It's too early to do anything but guess as to his long-term potential.

What can new linebacker Joseph Jones bring to the linebackers?

-- Kevin Grant

Speed. There aren't many linebackers with 4.5 speed like Jones possesses, and if he develops, he has the chance to be used strategically in matchups against tight ends and quick running backs out of the backfield. For now, his speed is likely to be used on the special-teams units first.

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The analysis, opinion and speculation in this story represents that of the author, gathered through research and reporting, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Denver Broncos organization.

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