ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (The Sports Xchange) – Joe DeCamillis stood behind the lectern in the Broncos’ media room and looked comfortable.
He’s done this before, of course. As the special teams coordinator the last two seasons, he’s had a press conference every week. But he hasn’t talked every day. Nor has he handled the bevy of other commitments for TV and radio programs handled by Broncos coach Gary Kubiak. Nor has he been the one running the team meeting.
His focus is now on the entire team, but he’s still running the special teams. So he commuted to work early Tuesday morning. It was the only way he could squeeze in every task on his plate as interim head coach while Kubiak recovers from the complex migraine that will sideline him this week.
“Kubes’ has some different responsibilities that I wasn’t aware of, but I am now just trying to take care of those,” DeCamillis said.
His first will be deciding the starting quarterback, something he said will be a “collective decision” among team medical personnel, himself and general manager John Elway.
His second will be settling into the role and taking the advice of his father-in-law — who happens to be Dan Reeves, the former coach of the Broncos, Giants and Falcons who guided four teams to Super Bowls.
“He did say, ‘Try to make sure that you be yourself,'” DeCamillis said. “He said that’s the best advice that he got from (Tom) Landry when he started and so I’m going to try to continue that as much as I can.”
He received similar advice from Wade Phillips, who has three stints as an interim head coach with New Orleans, Atlanta and Houston and seemed thankful he wasn’t asked to do it a fourth time.
“If you look at my interim record, I’d say, ‘Make sure you don’t make him the interim guy,'” Phillips said. “I told you I was a lousy head coach anyway, especially as an interim head coach.”
But Phillips sees head-coaching potential in DeCamillis, who is in his 29th season in the NFL.
“I’ve known ‘Joe D’ for a long time and I really think he is a head-coaching candidate,” Phillips said. “I don’t know why he hasn’t. (Ravens coach) John Harbaugh did it as a special teams coach. Joe’s been recognized as one of the best, or the best, for a long time at what he does as a coordinator, so it’s good for him (that) people can see what they can do.”
Meanwhile, the coaches and players will try and do what they can to help Kubiak recuperate. The first thing is not talking too much football with him.
“I went over and saw him (Sunday) night,” offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said. “He started talking about the game and I told him to just rest, relax and get better.”
The second thing? Win one for their skipper.
“I’m going to talk to the defense and we’re going to dedicate this game to him,” Phillips said. “He’s meant so much to this team and the reason we won a Super Bowl is because of him, so we’re going to do something for him, too: play this game for him.”
–The Broncos’ offensive play-calling process has been a collaborative effort Kubiak, Dennison and quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp, with consultation from other offensive assistants.
So in one respect, not much will change Thursday — just the man at the top.
“We kind of do it by committee,” Dennison said. “Somebody has to be the lead.”
That has usually been Kubiak, although Dennison said he typically handles the playcalls for the 15-play script with which the Broncos open each game, with Kubiak taking the lead thereafter because of his feel for tendencies and situations.
“He sees some things. He’s awful good at that and finding some holes,” Dennison said.
Without that, it will be up to Dennison and Knapp to diagnose those. Dennison will remain in the coaches’ box upstairs.
“It’ll be a lot of discussion between series,” Dennison said. “It’s just (that) we’re going to have one less guy discussion, who we’ll miss.”
–With Paxton Lynch looking every bit like the rookie he is during Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, the Broncos hope to have Trevor Siemian back in time for Thursday’s game against the Chargers.
Siemian took limited repetitions during Monday and Tuesday’s practices, the latter of which saw him work in shoulder pads. He was the only Bronco in pads for the practice, and appeared to be wearing them so he could get accustomed to throwing with them on the shoulder that he injured against Tampa Bay on Oct. 2.
“That will be a decision that’s made later on during the week and it will be a collective decision,” DeCamillis said.
The offense struggled with Lynch, who looked unsettled in the pocket under a heavy Atlanta edge rush and was sacked six times.
“Obviously he has arm talent, but there are some things he has to learn and see things a little bit faster, not hang on to the ball,” Dennison said. “He learns from those things. Certainly he’s progressed from the first day he came in here and he keeps taking strides.
“It was a learning experience, and we just didn’t have a learning experience with a win.”