During Thursday’s practice, there were some extracurricular activities, including players trading words and on-field fights. Sometimes, it’s a good thing to see those kinds of things on the field. It shows that they care. The losing streak is taking a toll on them. “Just guys competing and wanting to win.” Head coach Vance Joseph said on Friday. “It was competitive yesterday for a Thanksgiving practice. That was my first time experiencing that kind of practice on Thanksgiving, but that speaks to our guys wanting to win and how hard they’ve worked. It was fun to see in my opinion. Guys competing for the ball and trying to make plays and it gets heated sometimes, but that’s OK.”
Joseph explained the thinking behind generating turnovers and how the score can affect that part of the game. “Well, get the lead. Get the lead so we can rush the passer. When you’re behind, it’s hard to take the ball away because offenses are smart. They’re running the football on first and second down and throwing quick passes or throwing outside breaking routes. If we get a lead, we can rush the passer, we can cover them and we can take the ball away.”
Denver’s defense has gotten 22 sacks this year, good for 20th in the league. Linebacker Von Miller has 8 of them. Joseph talked about what the Broncos plan to do to put Miller in the best position to get more sacks for the team. “ Everyone’s going to chip Von Miller. That’s where it starts. But again, on third downs if we’re ahead and they’re getting five guys out, we have a chance to rush the passer.” Translation, the offense and special teams have lead to the defense not playing as well.
Von Miller and Shane Ray have the potential to be a dominant duo in the linebacking core for Denver. Ray has only played in 4 game this season due to injury, but Joseph had positive things to say about the 3rd-year linebacker out of Missouri.
“Shane looks fine. Shane plays very hard, so having Shane out there on rush downs is also a good thing because he plays so hard. If you’re sliding to Von or you’re chipping Von, Shane gets a one-on-one on the backside. He’ll win more and more as we go along here.”
Denver faces the Raiders on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully the two linebackers (plus other Broncos defenders) can pressure Raider quarterback Derek Carr so that he gets anxious and throws some picks.