Super Bowl: Distracted in Denver
It was victory Monday at Denver Broncos headquarters — the usual routine of weightlifting and injury treatment as needed. But it will be anything but the typical work week in Englewood.
Denver’s 26-16 victory in the AFC Championship game pushed the Broncos to Super Bowl XLVIII, and before they resume work Thursday with an eye on the gameplan against the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense, there is a new kind of business at hand.
Head coach John Fox, who is taking his second team to the Super Bowl and coaching in his third NFL championship game overall, said Monday afternoon that there is plenty of planning to get out of the way before the real work can resume.
After Monday’s training session, players gathered for the first of multiple “logistics meetings,” during which travel, ticketing and other peripheral details are ironed out. By design, the Broncos are doing their best to eliminate distractions that come with making their Super Bowl business trip into a family event.
“We have a spouse meeting tomorrow,” Fox said with a wide smile and shrug. “I don’t want to get into too much detail. It’s an important meeting.”
Fox was on the losing end of his first two Super Bowl appearances — as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants to the Baltimore Ravens (XXXV in 2001) and as head coach in the Carolina Panthers’ loss (XXXVIII) to the New England Patriots in 2004.
“We’ve been sending that message all season. There’s a lot of noise on the outside — we try to stay focused on preparation on the inside. Staying focused on the job at hand,” Fox said of the importance of not overhyping the most hyped game on the pro sports calendar.
Experience, Fox believes, can be a distinct advantage.
The Seahawks, who outlasted the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, 23-17, have zero players on the roster who have played in a Super Bowl. Quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Wes Welker and tight end Jacob Tamme won rings in previous Super Bowl trips before joining the Broncos.
“We’ll address that. There’s enough young players in that locker room, they can get some information from some guys who have been through it before,” Fox said.
One player with no experience in the big game, Pro Bowl wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, had another stellar performance Sunday in the AFC title game. Thomas will be matched one-on-one in Super Bowl XLVIII by Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman had eight interceptions in 2013 and impressed Fox when the teams played in the preseason.
Fox called Sherman a “terrific player; great cover guy” but said he had no comment on whether the brash approach could impact Thomas.
“They use length. He’s got great instincts. He’s been operating at a pretty high level for some time,” Fox said of Sherman.
Thomas has 15 receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns in two playoff games this month, backing up his 92 catches for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns in the regular season.
“Wealth of talent — big, physical, strong, fast,” Fox said of Thomas’ tools. “All the things you look for athletically. He has worked extremely hard. Our quarterback is a fairly demanding guy. I think it’s helped Demaryius in his growth — and all of our receivers.”
Thomas and the Broncos will have a full practice Thursday, and given all the ancillary headaches that come with Super Bowl planning, Fox expects the week to fly by before relocating to greater New York next week.
“It’s a race, like all weeks of preparation. We have a lot to do, a lot to dig into,” Fox said.