ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio looked back at Denver's "Thursday Night Football" loss, he saw an absence of fundamentals.
Too often, the Broncos weren't able to execute and convert the necessary plays to earn a win.
And in Fangio's eyes, the responsibility for that performance falls on him and his coaching staff.
"What's most concerning is our fundamentals were lacking in that game, particularly on the defensive side of the ball," Fangio said Friday. "When that's lacking, that's poor coaching on our part, and that starts with me. We have to do a better job of getting the fundamental things taught and executed."
The Broncos had a short week to prepare forCleveland, but Fangio stressed ahead of the game that the team needed to "sweat in the meeting room." Especially defensively, that work did not translate. Fangio said Thursday night that on the Browns' first drive, they ran a bootleg that the Broncos studied during the week. Denver, though, was not able to prevent a completion.
"It's being where you're supposed to be at all times and being there for the different types of plays," Fangio said. "If they run the stretch play, you've got to stay in your gap. If they run a boot play, you've got to be there for the boot. You've got to have good eyes and be disciplined when you play a team that's good with the boot game, good with the screen game and good with the play-action game. We didn't get that done well enough."
Fangio said Thursday that he did not plan to make any changes in play-calling responsibilities, and he reiterated Friday that "at this time," there would not be operational or coaching changes.
"We always try and do a better job of inspiring them," Fangio said. "I don't have a problem with our efforts or our intents. We just have to do a better job of coaching these guys to be more fundamentally sound."
Fangio did note that the Broncos will spend the weekend self-scouting their team and will "take a look at everything moving forward."
As Fangio and his staff reemphasize coaching the fundamentals in the wake of a four-game losing streak, Fangio said he's had conversations with President/CEO Joe Ellis, President of Football Operations John Elway and General Manager George Paton.
"We've talked and it's all very constructive and productive," Fangio said. "We all want the same thing. We want to get this team back to winning."
That mentality has kept Fangio from worrying about the external pressure he faces.
"I'm not worried about my coaching status," Fangio said. "What I'm worried about is this team and doing anything and everything we can to get our guys coached up to play better.
"That's my only focus."
In the state where seventh-round pick Jonathon Cooper played his high school and college football, he got the most extensive opportunity yet of his NFL career.
Cooper replaced an injured Von Miller and recorded three quarterback hits in 40 defensive snaps. Cooper nearly posted multiple sacks, and he was close to a strip-sack on one occasion.
"I was really close," Cooper said Thursday. "Really close. Really close. I don't know. I just have to look back at the film and see where I could have seen that split second. They say football is a game of inches and milliseconds, and it really is. I just feel like a lot of those plays could have changed the trajectory of the game and could have given momentum to the team and stuff. I have to look at it to see where I could get better and get there just a little bit quicker. Just a little bit quicker."
Fangio mostly liked what he saw from the young player.
"I thought he came in there when he got to play a lot when Von went out that he did a pretty good job," Fangio said. "He came loose a couple of times in the rush. He got too high on the tackle where he could have sacked the quarterback there backed up prior to the half. He's got to stay in the strike zone. I thought he could play the edge a little bit better and more consistently. Overall, for a young guy thrown in there pretty much full time in the second half, I thought he did fine."
IMPROVING AGAINST THE RUN
First-round pick Pat Surtain II recorded a couple of pass breakups on Thursday and had tight coverage on a number of other plays, which continued to impress his coaching staff.
"His coverage was very good last night," Fangio said. "It's been good all season. He's a very impressive player."
Surtain, though, did miss a critical tackle in run support that helped the Browns set up a short-yardage situation on a second-half drive.
"We have to get him tackling better against the run," Fangio said. "Run defense is an 11-man operation, and we have to get all 11 in sync."
Fangio said Surtain and Ronald Darby will continue to start at cornerback for the Broncos.