Broncos' players say defensive woes are their fault, not coaches' Print
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Tuesday, 25 September 2007 11:40
NFL Headline News

 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -Enough about the defensive scheme already.
Broncos defensive players are tired of hearing their struggles are part of a new scheme installed by first-year defensive coordinator Jim Bates.
Instead, they're taking responsibility for the poor play to start the season.
``One thing I don't do is put it on the coaches,'' cornerback Champ Bailey said. ``They're going to take responsibility for some bad calls, because they're going to make some. But one thing about it, we've still got to execute. We know what's good and what's bad and what's going to help us. We've just got to get it done.''
It hasn't been getting done, at least not as well as the players say it can.
The defense simply could not get off the field Sunday in Denver's 23-14 loss to the Jaguars. After Jacksonville forced the Broncos to go three-and-out on their first series, the Jags marched downfield on 18 plays for a touchdown, eating up 11 minutes, 44 seconds.
Denver's dejected defense never stood chance after that.
``It's not a lack of effort. It's not laziness,'' said defensive back Domonique Foxworth. ``None of those things are a problem. Just being smart, and people not knowing exactly what they need to do.''
And maybe tackling.
Jaguars running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, and even quarterback David Garrard, broke arm-tackle after arm-tackle on their way to Jacksonville's 186 yards rushing. In three games, the Broncos have given up 498 yards on the ground to rank just 29th.
``One thing about it, it's not technique. It's attitude,'' Bailey said. ``Do you want to get the guy on the ground? I pride myself on not missing any tackles. ``
In fact, Bailey is second on the team in tackles. But that's both a good thing and a bad one. It means he's not missing many hits, but it also means running backs are breaking through the team's first and second levels.
Bailey said he'd be happy just making incremental changes. Avoiding mental errors and missed assignments will lead to a better defense by default, he said.
Despite having one of the league's worst run defenses, the Broncos rank first in the NFL against the pass, giving up only 88.3 yards per game. Or maybe that's because Denver can't stop the run, so opponents don't need to throw the ball.
Regardless, Bailey is clearly concerned about the Broncos' inability to defend the run. The team travels to Indianapolis on Sunday to play the Colts, who aren't exactly known for beating teams with a grind-it-out running attack. But Bailey still mentioned stopping Colts running back Joseph Addai before quarterback Peyton Manning.
``I mean, they're definitely going to throw the ball,'' Bailey said. ``But they obviously have a good running back and we haven't stopped the run all year. So I know they're going to do that.''
A healthy John Lynch would be a step in the right direction. Lynch, a sure tackler, had an MRI on Monday after a strained groin sidelined him for most of the game against Jacksonville. There is no official word on his status for the team's game against the Colts, though Foxworth said the eight-time Pro Bowl safety ``felt good'' Monday.
``We're optimistic,'' Foxworth said. ``He's a Pro Bowl player, so if you lose that type of talent, it definitely puts more pressure on the rest of the defense. But it's something that we welcome and we're looking forward to this opportunity to bounce back.''
 

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