Coach Saunders answers questions from the media. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: What kind of challenges does Denver present now that Fox is in there? Is it a typical John defense?
Saunders: A typical John defense is a good defense. He's been in the league a lot of years and done a terrific job. They have outstanding talent. They've got two corners that are outstanding players. Dawkins has done a great job at strong safety. We competed against him at Philadelphia for years. Those two outside pass rushers are just tremendous. They have an outstanding defense. Their speed is exceptional. Judging from the preseason, they've done an outstanding job in all phases of the defense. We've got a big challenge.
Q: Dumervil is that guy that has to be accounted for every single play?
Saunders: Yeah, you need to know where he is, you need to know where 58 is, you need to know where 20 is and you need to know where Champ Bailey is. That's a lot of guys you need to try to figure out where they are. There was a big difference in their defense when he didn't play last year, obviously.
Q: Since John's in there and has brought his defense, do you completely throw out what this team did last year?
Saunders: Conceptually, they're different. They've gone from a three-four team to a four-three team. Personnel-wise, they are different. The personnel is different, the scheme is different. Certainly, playing on Monday night will be different. There's a lot of things that we can look at that we can take from last year from a personnel standpoint, players that returned. There's also some things that are a little bit of a mystery.
Q: Is it important for the receivers to get off to a fast start?
Saunders: That's important for any offense. I think they've had a tremendous training camp. They're not rookies anymore, Jacoby and Heyward-Bey have been here a few years. Schilens looks like he's ready to go. We expect them to step up and play at a very high level.
Q: Darrius, in his third year is it important to get him into the passing game to really build his confidence?
Saunders: I think he's a very confident young man. I've been around him a really short period of time and I really like what I see. I think he's worked really hard and that's why you play the games, to see how far you've come and I think he's looking forward to that.
Q: Have you been a around a team with this much pure speed? The Rams come to mind….
Saunders: We didn't have this much speed in St. Louis. We had some great football players that played fast but in terms of pure speed, this is a special group.
Q: How do you harness that, though?
Saunders:I went to school with Tommie Smith and John Carlos. They had just come out of the '68 Mexico Olympics and had gold medals and they didn't turn out to be football players. Speed and playing the game are two different things. People can run fast in a straight line but when you have to change direction and there is 200-pound defender there trying to re-rout you, it's different. So, like I said it's been a great privilege to coach the guys I've coached. Charlie Joiner, who's in the Hall of Fame, wasn't a really fast guy but he played the game as fast as anybody around. So transferring that speed, it's the really great ones that can transfer that speed into playing explosion. Those ones are really special.
Q: The team, especially Al (Davis), has always loved that speed. Is it just a thing where you can't teach speed?
Saunders: You can teach it. Usain Bolt is working right now to get a hundredth of a second faster. There are some techniques and things that you can do to get your guys to play faster. But then you need the speed factor. It really gives you an advantage when you get ball in the open field. The faster you run the better chance you have of getting in the end zone before somebody catches you.