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January 27, 2014 at 8:38 PM

John Fox: “We’ve played our best football the last month of the season”

For the view from the other side, here’s what Denver coach John Fox had to say to reporters today:

(on how Denver is playing at this time of the season) “There is no question we’ve played our best football the last month of the season, including the last two weeks. So, I think that’s important. I think the same can be said for Seattle as well. It usually comes down to the team that executes the plays the best wins the game, regardless. I think that formula will stand true.”

(on what WR Wes Welker brought to Denver) “Wes has stepped in. He was voted team captain, and I don’t care who you are, coming to a new team, new teammates, that doesn’t happen very easily. It says a lot to the kind of guy he is, both on and off the field. I think he is an unbelievable competitor and very gritty, and that became obvious to his teammates very early on – how he goes about his business on and off the field and preparation. He has been a tremendous addition, and we are sure glad to have him.”

(on what he learned from Chuck Noll that he is applying as a head coach) “In my first year, 1989, I was defensive backfield coach (for Pittsburgh), and I was very blessed to be with Chuck Noll as head coach. We kind of had a bizarre season. We started the first two games – I think we got beat 51-0 at home by Cleveland. That was my first NFL experience, a great experience. Then, we went to Cincinnati, which was a very good football team, and we lost, I think, 48-14 (actual score was 41-10). It wasn’t a very tremendous start. Everybody was down. And of course, fans as they are, were a little bit honest. He stayed even keel. That is the most valuable lesson: to be the same guy and don’t go through the highs and lows because it is very easy to do, especially with outside influences. He was a tremendous technician in the individual fundamentals of football, which was something very important to him. I still believe it comes down to blocking and tackling, even at this level. Sometimes, we lose sight of that with the schemes and stuff. I really think it is staying even keel, not experiencing the highs and lows that a football season can bring to you. And really, the technique, and not more of the ‘want to’ but the ‘how to’ play football.”

(on if he is more appreciative of this Super Bowl trip because of his health scare) “First and foremost, I am appreciative of this, regardless of any health scares or any of the things I’ve been through, this is a very hard place to get to. I’ve been blessed to do it three times, once as an assistant and twice as a head coach. Going back, like any health scare, whether it was your parents or somebody in your family, in this case it was myself, it was a setback. It was a little bit scary for a minute. I really don’t think about it much now. The first four days, I thought about it a little bit because it was like getting hit by a truck. I got better every day just like any player who has been through an injury. I never thought I wouldn’t be back once I was going through the process. Fortunately, I had my family and good medical people, and here I am. I really haven’t thought about it much, to be honest with you, here recently.”

(on what QB Peyton Manning goes through before the snap, and the significance of ‘Omaha’) “I won’t get into the exact specifics (of ‘Omaha’), and really, we’ve never been real thrilled that the league kind of makes us put on these microphones on players. It’s not real fun for us. I know we have to change a lot, and all of those kinds of things. In today’s NFL offensively, there are more and more people doing things at the line of scrimmage, whether it is audibles, and I don’t want to get into too much. There is a lot of communication that goes on at the line of scrimmage in today’s NFL, and that is both offense and defense, even special teams. You’ll see hand signals, you’ll see different things, even in the kicking game. When you give people 18 hours a day to think of stuff, this is what we do. We are very blessed. He (Manning) is very sharp. He’s done it a very long time in his career, and he is as good – I am not going to say he is the best – but he is as good that I have ever been around of doing it.”

(on how he is able to manage the demands of the job with his health and keep a balance) “You know, it’s really remarkable about my health, and I just have to say this, I am 180 percent better than I was eight months ago. I had a valve that was the size of a pinhead, now it is the size of a 50-cent piece. What you do is that you learn to deal with stuff in life, and I attribute it to, of course, some of our hours some of the time. I might have been a little tired, getting old. This is a cause of age. Really, it’s been a blessing. I’m way better than I was physically the last 10 years of my life. So, it’s really been kind of an upgrade, and I feel tremendous.”

(on how important it is to keep a regular-season routine for the Super Bowl) “It’s been critical the whole season. Whether you are in your local city, or wherever you are in the National Football League, obviously it is a very popular sport, and it gets a lot of coverage, and there are a lot of outside influences, whether it’s television, radio, you name it. So, you are dealing with that all season long, and when you get in the playoffs, it ratchets up a notch. All of these players, whether it’s their side or our side, have been dealing with it, and this is kind of the ultimate of it. It is just more of the same, to be honest with you. It’s even more heightened this week, with staying on routine, staying on task. It is about preparation, both mentally and physically, so you can go perform.”

(on what it would mean to win his first Super Bowl in the New York/New Jersey area) “It would be very exciting. First and foremost, it would be exciting to win anywhere. This is the epitome of the profession, to be named world champs. Both sides, I’m sure, will be putting all of their best to do that. I spent five great years here. I was very blessed. I worked for a great organization. I’m not knocking any other organization, but I just speak for the one I worked for. Tremendous families, both the Mara family and the Tisch family. Great area, both the New Jersey and the New York side. Very avid fans, very much into their football, regardless of what side they are rooting for. It is very passionate. Much like being in this area, people are passionate just about being here. It would mean a lot. I have a lot of close friends here, neighbors from my Wayne (N.J.) days. It would mean a tremendous amount to win it here.”

(on how RB Knowshon Moreno moved up the depth chart, and if it had anything to do with improvement in ball security) “Being a running back, that is a key area – ball security. He’s done a tremendous job. I think Montee Ball, one of our young guys, has done a tremendous job as has Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson. They have all improved in that area. He was the most veteran of anybody. The thing with Knowshon, the thing he’s really improved, is his accountability and dependability. I think that it goes with being a running back, not just toting the rock. It’s not just running the football. You have protections. We change a lot of things, and we do a lot of things. We don’t just call a play and go to the line and run it. You’ve got to be a sharp guy, so he is very smart. He’s been a professional as far as his preparation goes, and he has become one of the more dependable guys as far as assignment detail and those types of things. You see that in his stats. You see it with his pass receiving yardage in combination with the rushing yardage, which is doing all and everything about your job. He’s done a tremendous job, and he is maybe one of our most improved players this past season. I hope he continues that on Sunday.”

(on what he saw as Denver brought Terrance Knighton along) “I’ll always put it on players. As a coach, we spend a lot of time trying to define players. Basically, our approach is, ‘Don’t let us define you. You are going to be held accountable. It is going to be based on your performance, where you are on the depth chart, how much you are going to play. All of those things, you earn or don’t earn.’ Much like all of our players, guys either take heed of that, or don’t. So, in Terrance’s case, he worked very hard. He had a funny nickname, and I’ll let him go into that. He lost 30 pounds. He worked very hard to get his weight in order. He changed his physical look as far as his body content with our strength and conditioning people. Really, everything Terrance has done, he did (himself). You can have all kinds of talks, you can talk until you are blue in the face. But, until you start seeing actions, they basically make that decision. In his case, he definitely did. We are very excited to have him. He has been a real stalwart up front, especially inside in both the run and the pass. We are pleased in the growth and development he made this year, but I attribute it to him.”

(on what non-football activities he has planned for the team this week) “They kind of figured out those kind of activities on their own. We don’t really have a whole lot of things that don’t revolve around the game. Obviously, we give them free time flexibility to do with what they want. Obviously, we’ve got a big event tomorrow. We have a practice today. We are going out to the Jets facility. Wednesday, we are back into regular in-season mode. Thursday, the families arrive. So, they will have some time with their families, albeit after practice and some of their commitments to the team. Nothing is really planned like a special movie, or anything like that.”

(on Moreno’s turnaround, and how he has altered the offense) “His consistency is what has helped the offense. I think that is a question better for Knowshon. I believe he is going to be with you guys as well. I think it is just maturity. These are young people; young, rich and famous people for the most part – not a great combination for success without some responsibility and accountability. I understand decisions bring consequences. I’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth. I think it is something for why I do what I do and why most coaches do what they do – is watching that growth and development.”

(on the development of WR Demaryius Thomas, and how his career improved with the arrival of QB Peyton Manning) “It’s my third season with the Broncos. When we first got there, we had a different type of offense. Demaryius is a very gifted athlete, both in height, weight and speed as we evaluate people in the draft process and the evaluation of the human talent process. He is very, very gifted, no doubt. He is one of the better athletes I’ve been blessed to be around. Again, it’s developing the skills. Ultimately, it goes back to the kind of person Demaryius is. He’s definitely improved and become a much more polished receiver over the last couple of years, for sure. He gets all of the credit for that. It’s a lot of hard work, our whole football team has worked very hard to get to this place just like the other side has. Demaryius has been a big part of that, and he is a very, very capable player at his position, and he will continue to grow as we move forward.”

(on if he saw anything from the tape of Seattle’s game against Indianapolis that could help them) “Just for the record, we looked at every snap on film, and I’m sure Pete (Carroll) and his crew have, too. It’s kind of what we do. Yes, we looked at that. That place (Indianapolis) is a tough place to play, regardless of what team you are. They were a very, very talented team that made the postseason, and did a good job. In answer to your question, without getting into specifics, we looked at that very closely.”

(on if he or anyone from his staff had been to the Jets facility) “Our buses leave at 2 (p.m.). Not sure really how far; I know we stayed out in that area this year when we played the Giants in the Short Hills, Florham Park and Summit area – which is a very nice area of New Jersey. We understand it’s a little bit of a bus ride. We get to find out. I’ve heard the facility is very good. Our operations guy tells me that the guys will be complaining that it is so much nicer than ours, so he is not real excited about it. But, we are looking forward to getting out there. We’ve heard nothing but great things.”

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