AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Broncos coach says he messed up game plan

By ARNIE STAPLETON , AP Pro Football Writer

September 18, 2018 - 10:40 am
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Broncos coach Vance Joseph is criticizing his team's conservative defensive play against the Oakland Raiders but takes responsibility rather than blaming defensive coordinator Joe Woods.

The Broncos kept giving the Raiders eight-yard cushions and quarterback Derek Carr repeatedly threw quick strikes to those wide-open targets as he set a franchise record by completing 90.6 percent of his passes — 29 of 32 for 288 yards in Oakland's 20-19 loss in Denver on Sunday.

"I thought yesterday defensively that we didn't play aggressively enough in the first half, and that's on me," Joseph said Monday. "This offense obviously poses problems because they come in with a lot of different weapons, a lot of different matchup issues."

Joseph said the Broncos (2-0) were too engrossed in what running backs Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard, tight end Jared Cook and receivers Amari Cooper and Martavis Bryant might do to spark the Raiders (0-2).

"So, we played way too cautious," Joseph said. "Our defense is based on rushing five, playing press-man coverage. And in the first half we didn't do that. And it showed, we were really non-aggressive and they took advantage of us. In the second half, we got more aggressive and it showed and we played better. But that's on me."

Carr completed 18 of 19 throws for 153 yards before halftime.

"Sometimes as a coach you can over-game plan and make your guys really non-aggressive," said Joseph, who stressed he's always involved with the defensive game plan.

Carr was almost as sharp in the second half when he completed 11 of 13 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown but they frittered away a 19-7 lead late in the third quarter.

Joseph said Denver's pass rush couldn't have done better because Carr only "held the ball twice and we got two sacks." Both were by Von Miller , but the first one, which resulted in a turnover, was negated by penalty.

"So, at halftime he was 18 for 19 and they were really quick passes, so that falls back on the corners," Joseph said. "We have to press the receivers because we know if he holds the ball we can get pressure. If it comes out quick and we're seven, eight yards off, it's going to be a completed ball and he's going to fall for five or six. Our corners have to play with great confidence all the time and obviously play with press coverage."

Even though he took responsibility, Joseph indicated that Bradley Roby and Adam Jones have to "have the confidence to go up there and challenge whoever, 12 (Bryant), 89 (Cooper) and play technique and trust the pass rush. Yesterday, we didn't do that."

Nose tackle Domata Peko welcomed the notion of a more aggressive mind-set from the get-go because Carr was "getting rid of the ball in two seconds, quick, little smoke outside. Then we made some adjustments and those quick, little throws weren't there no more. I'm really happy we went to halftime, made those adjustments and came out the second half and did our thing."

Joseph also said Jones, who signed late last month, needs to get in better shape because his hamstrings tightened up on him, forcing Tramaine Brock into the game in his place.

"He's only been here three weeks now, so he has to get in football shape," Joseph said. "That's half of Adam's problem right now."

Star cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said he wasn't worried about Carr's efficiency or passing statistics, only about shutting down Oakland's offense at the end.

"As long as we can hold anyone to 19 points," Harris said, "we should win every game."

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