OC Ken Whisenhunt: "The Challege Is to Keep This Momentum Going"

Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt takes questions from the media ahead of Week 11's matchup with the Broncos.

On using T Joe Barksdale and T Sam Tevi at right tackle:

“You know, it's been working pretty good for us. Sam's done a pretty good job in pass protection as well. I think, to Joe's credit, he's worked hard to get back, and he's playing pretty good, so I imagine we'll have a rotation. It will probably be pretty close to what it's been. We'll see how it goes. We've got to kind of see how the game's rolling.”

On Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb:

“He's a good player. I mean, just in hearing all the hype last year with him coming out, you didn't really know what — because obvious you don't look at a lot of defensive players. You could see when you were looking at other players on tape, but he's strong — a good physical player, good rush, good rush technique. So he's really doing a nice job for them.”

On DE Joey Bosa:

“I was wondering if it was going to be in the first couple of questions. You know what? No kidding aside, I don't look at it that much when the defense is on the field doing their thing. Usually we're working and correcting some of the things we've had. It was nice to see Joey back on the field. Human nature though, I did watch him a couple of times. Just from what little bit I saw, he looked good. Whenever you have a player of his caliber that has missed some time, it's always good to see him back on the field. I think just seeing the excitement on his face for being out there because I know it was tough for him. So as far as any of the other stuff, it's good to see Joey back out there on the field.”

On what Bosa’s return to practice means:

“Well, gosh, I think anytime you have a tremendous player that comes back that can play, it helps your team, you know. I mean, you give credit to our players, they've been working hard and they've done a great job just of how they've worked this year. So, you know, you would think that if Joey comes back and plays, it can only help us, which is a good thing.”

On the Denver pass rush:

“Well, there's no question. Your plan has to change a little bit when you face a team like this because they do have four [pass rushers]. There are times when they have all four of them on the field at once — but it's not like you're getting a break if either [Bradley] Chubb or [Broncos OLB Von] Miller has to take a break. So I think you have to be aware of those kind of things, whether you can get help from a back or help from a tight end. It certainly changes your approach a little bit in how you do it. It's a credit to them. They're good football players. They run a good scheme. They're a well-coached team. They certainly have really smart guys in the back end. [Broncos CB] Chris Harris [Jr.] and their linebackers have been there together and they communicate really well. So it's a tough challenge. You can throw everything else out the window. When you play this team, it's a good defense. They've got some good edge rushers, which is always a tough thing for offenses. They play their scheme really well. All you can do is try to draw off things that you've done in the past that maybe have worked or maybe you've helped protect the quarterback, and try to implement those things.”

On Broncos CB Chris Harris Jr.

“I think he's playing at a high level this year. You know, you don't pay much attention to players on other teams a lot of times, but I've always admired Chris and how he plays. He plays the game the way a pro [should] — which you like to see in pros, and he does a nice job. It just seems to me that he's playing really well. I don't know him, but I respect the way he plays. He's smart, he's a very good technician, and he plays that position very well.”

On the balance of the offense:

“To be honest with you, I don't really pay a lot of attention to [individual streaks that players are on]. It feels good that we're getting a lot of guys doing a lot of things. It's a credit more to our guys. If you're in this thing long enough, you're going to have years where you're good passing, you're going to have years where you're good rushing — but to be able to balance it, it's been really good just to see [RB] Austin [Ekeler] and [RB] Melvin [Gordon III] in the run game get some opportunities. Then even our receivers are contributing with that, with some of the jet-sweep runs that we've done. [QB] Philip [Rivers] has always played at a high level when I've been around him, and he's doing that again. You know, the challenge is to keep it going, that's it. This will be a real test against this defense.”

On WR Mike Williams:

“I think every week we're trying to get them all involved. Sometimes it's just the way the game goes, whether they get those opportunities. So we're really happy with Mike and how he's progressing — but we're really happy with [WR] Tyrell [Williams], we're really happy with [WR] Keenan [Allen], we're really happy with [RB] Austin [Ekeler]. When you start talking about all those guys — last week, [TE] Virgil [Green] contributed a little bit. So I think maybe when you do it that way, it helps contribute to your balance, which hopefully that can continue. So we do try to put things in that we think this could go to Mike. This could go to these different players. Sometimes you don't get the right look. Last week, and I said this, I guess I haven't talked to you guys, but Oakland played us a little bit differently than they did. They weren't going to give up any of the shots down the field. So they played some two high and tried to stop that from happening. Sometimes when you do that, you have to take the other thing [that’s available]. So it's just the way it works sometimes.”

On if there are shutdown corners in the league still:

“Well, I mean, there are some good corners in this league, no question about it. When you go up against one of those guys, which you see every week, you see good corners. I don't know what your definition of a shutdown corner is. I think that guys that play with good technique that are competitive every play, that you're saying, ‘Okay, we can't count on necessarily a one-on-one winning this match-up.’ You know, there are a lot of those guys in this league. That's part of this league. So that's what makes this league great, but, I mean, things have a way of going in cycles. Passing is hot right now. It could slow down in a couple weeks. You just never know. We're just trying to focus on keeping what we're doing going.”

On RBs Melvin Gordon III and Austin Ekeler:

“Well, it seems kind of the way the NFL's going now. It seems like it's a back-by-committee type thing. The challenge is always finding the other back. I think to your point, Austin's versatility has really been tremendous. We do a lot of different things with him and he's really performed well for us. He's even a tremendous special teams player, so there's no question that's been a big help for us, and obviously for Melvin, too — but you've got to give credit to Melvin, he's playing like crazy right now. He's doing a great job.”

On pre-snap motion of wide receivers:

“Yeah, it's more than we've used it in the past. I mean, we've done it before. I think we've just kind of — just like anything, you've expanded on what you've done. We had an offseason where we knew more about some of our players and we tried to work some of those things in through OTAs and through camp. Then, you know, sometimes you take a chance on a guy. Like Keenan [Allen], he rips off a 20-plus yard run on the first play against Seattle a couple weeks ago in that situation. So that helps you. Those kind of things help you. So it's definitely you see more of that in the league now. Just like, and I said this a couple days ago, RPOs were the rage last year. You don't see maybe as many of those. So you've got to try to use it while it's good, because those defenses are so good they figure it out and figure out ways to stop it. So, yeah, there's probably a little bit more of it, ask we've certainly benefited from it.”

On how jet-sweeps affect offensive linemen:

“You know, different teams have different ways of doing it and I don't know if it's necessarily a function of your linemen. I think the big thing is trying to adapt what you do to the players that you have and how that fits. So, I mean, certainly there are different ways to skin a cat. I don't know.”

On if C Mike Pouncey was the team’s largest free agent acquisition:

“Well, you know, it would be hard to argue that. You hate to say he's the biggest or the best, but he's a tremendous player, and he's done a really good job for us. [T] Russell Okung is a tremendous player, and he was a great acquisition for us [last year]. You know, [General Manager] Tom [Telesco] and his staff have done a great job of getting in some players that have helped us. I mean, the thing about [WR] Tyrell [Williams], he was an undrafted free agent. Austin [Ekeler] was an undrafted free agent, and those guys have become tremendous players for us. So to me, I think it's the sum of the parts more than the individual. I think there is no doubt that Mike contributed a tremendous amount to that. You know, his leadership, his play, his attitude, all of it has been great.”

On if Pouncey is like a second quarterback on the field:

“I'm sure Mike would like to think that. I'm sure he would like to think he's a quarterback, but he's a smart guy. You just see his passion in the game. Really to me, it's more about how you interact with your teammates, and he's tremendous.”

On the good ball security this year:

“Well, I mean, you've got to give credit to [Head] Coach [Anthony] Lynn there. That's been big for him since he came in here and he's preached that since last year. You know, it's been good. I hate to mention it or even talk about it because, you know, I'm superstitious about that stuff, but it's been good, no question.”

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