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Mike Shanahan Talks Saints and Broncos

    <span style="">                 <span style="">Q: Your offense is clicking and it seems like Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall are a big part of that. Can you talk about how they have been able to overcome some of the off field issues in the offseason?</span>                 

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: It's nice to get started off on the right foot. Obviously Brandon missed the first game, but played very well in the second game. Jay's a lot more comfortable with the system.

Q: Going into this game, the Saints had some pass defense issues with Jason Campbell in the last one. What do you see with the secondary?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: I know that they were missing four starters, had three turnovers, had a punt return for a touchdown and still had a chance to win that's not indicative to New Orleans' offense, defense or team. Washington was very fortunate to win that game, because normally those turnovers or the punt return doesn't occur. They had a game into the fourth quarter. We know they're going to healthier and give us their best shot and we'll be ready for them.

Q: What has brought Jay Cutler to the point where he seems more advanced than the other quarterbacks from the 2006 draft class?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: I liked his background from Vanderbilt, his arm strength that he won SEC Player of the Year, played in a tough conference. He could check down and make all the throws and could also get out of the pocket and scramble consistently. I just thought he had the chance to be a franchise quarterback for all the right reasons.

Q: Was his play at Vanderbilt why you favored him compared to Vince Young and Matt Leinart?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: Very much so.

Q: Did you feel that he would be a better fit for your specific offensive system?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: To be honest, I just liked the way he quarterbacked. I liked his arm strength. He's very similar to some of the top quarterbacks who played the game. I kind of liked his presence and some of the tutelage he had had to come into the pro game, because he had to do that in college.

Q: The Saints run game has struggled at times and the Redskins were able to get some pressure on Drew Brees. Do you see a situation where you can kind of expose those guys?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: They had some tipped balls. Anytime you have some tipped balls sometimes they hit the ground, and sometimes they get intercepted. You look at Drew and I'll be honest with you, I watched him for a number of years. He's a guy that I really look up to, because he has played so well, so flawless, he has such a good system to run. They don't make very many mistakes. He's fun to watch in the offseason, because he plays the game so well.

Q: Brandon Marshall says that he didn't know how many balls he caught the other day (18). Is that something that evolves, or is it something that is a conscious effort?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: With the type of zone package they (San Diego) play, you can get a number of catches. I didn't know he caught 18.

Q: Even though he didn't make the catches, did Marshall attract some people on those game winning plays?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: Yes, he brought like three people out of the area on those plays. It was the same play with a different formation. One time Eddie (Royal) beat a defensive tackle, the other time a safety. Sometimes when a guy makes as many plays as Brandon has for us, obviously you have to pay attention to him.

Q: Do you think you might start a trend by going for two?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: I don't know about that.

Q: Did you have any second thoughts about it after?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: No, I really didn't. I just felt that it was the right thing to do at the time. I just thought it was the right time looking at our offense and a play that we had planned for that situation. Fortunately it worked out.

Q: Mike Tice did it six years ago against the Saints, but the difference was that they were 5-9 at the time. Do you think about the ramifications if it didn't work?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: No, you have to understand that it comes with the job. If you're going to base your decisions on the scrutiny you're going to take, you're not doing what you think is best for your team. I understand what would have happened if we didn't make it. That's why you have to do what you think gives you the best chance to win. Your job is based on winning and losing and you have to do what you think is right and I did. I'm just glad it worked out.

Q: Will you do it again?

A: It all depends on what situation you're in. You kind of get a feel for your team. If it works out you're smart. If it doesn't work out, you're not too smart.

Q: You have the luxury of having two veteran cornerbacks in Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly and the Saints are going with a rookie in Tracy Porter. The first week he made some great plays and the second week, he got beat for the game-winning touchdown. How tough is it for a rookie corner to come in right away and almost get it right off the bat? Is that difficult to do and as a coach, do you expect there to be highs and lows?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: There's always going to be highs and lows. Those corners, obviously anytime you put them on an island, that's tough. There's also a correlation to your pass rush. There are some corners that are pretty average and wind up going to the Pro Bowl, just because you have a great pass rush, two years later they lose some of those defensive linemen and they're not very good. It's a combination of both. You got to have balance. You got to have a good pass rush. The greater the pass rush, the better the corners.

Q: Do you feel that cornerback and quarterback are two of the most scrutinized positions?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: Yes, anytime you're on an island and people can see a wide receiver run right by you, you're going to have the highs and lows, wipe it out and go onto the next plays. The great corners can do that. They can get beat; they forget about it, wipe it out and pretend it didn't happen. If you don't have a short memory out there, you usually don't last.

Q: How were you able to sort out some of the back and forth messages between Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: That was no big deal. That was just buildup. Those guys do a lot together in the offseason. All of a sudden Jay speaks his mind. They do a lot of things together. They're very close.

Q: Have you seen growth in Brandon evidenced by his lack of public response in the situation?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: Yes, everything goes back to the girlfriend he has had since back in junior high. I think he's moved on. I think he's done well.

Q: What have you seen of Jonathan Vilma in the two games he's played in with the Saints?

Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan: He's a guy that I always admired at Miami. He obviously went to the Jets. He came out and you always heard about his knee, they said he had the same thing in high school and has always been able to play through it. He's a guy that makes plays and I have a lot of respect for him. Obviously we have D.J. Williams who played right alongside him. Of course Jonathan was inside and D.J. outside.

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