Jim Bates has built many successful defenses over his career.
Yet, it's never taken him this long to do so.
Bates, the Broncos' defensive boss, was brought in to shore up a creaky defense from a year ago.
This season, the defense has only gotten worse. The Broncos are last in the league against the run, giving up 187.6 yards a game. The Chargers averaged 5.8 yards a carry last Sunday in a 41-3 win, the Broncos' worst home loss in 41 years.
``It's always disappointing,'' Bates said Tuesday. ``It humbles anybody that's been in this situation and has had a lot of success. I personally have to do a better job.''
Broncos safety John Lynch rebutted such talk, saying the players deserve the blame for the defense struggling get on track.
``That's what good leaders do they take the brunt,'' Lynch said. ``No one believes that. We're all accountable. It's more important to fix it than point the blame at anyone. We can fix this.''
Denver has allowed an opposing tailback to gain 100 yards in three out of five contests so far this season. Still, Bates can see progress.
``We are growing,'' he insisted. ``It doesn't show on the field. There is some growth being made.''
Bates looked at the replays of the Chargers game, and said it wasn't as bad as he had feared. Throw out Michael Turner's fourth quarter 74-yard touchdown run and his 49-yard gallop in the first half and the run defense actually held its ground. Those two plays accounted for 123 of San Diego's 214 yards rushing.
``It was probably the most physical we've been in the running game, other than those two plays,'' Bates said. ``As coaches and players, you feel horrible. But we just failed to make the two plays. You've got to eliminate them to be a good run defense.''
Bates had no problems building a top-caliber defense when he was with the Miami Dolphins for five seasons. But he also had Pro Bowl players like linebacker Zach Thomas and defensive end Jason Taylor to work with.
However, he insisted there's talent in place with the Broncos. It's just taking longer to put all the parts together.
``There's a lot of newness,'' said Bates, who's working with three rookie defensive linemen. ``It's learning what we can do and putting our players in the best position to be successful.''
The pass defense, though, is tops in the league. With Dre' Bly and Champ Bailey manning the corners, teams are reluctant to throw outside.
However, San Diego exploited the Broncos' pass defense with screen passes to LaDainian Tomlinson and by throwing over the middle to tight end Antonio Gates.
Bailey tried to take on the responsibility of covering Gates, but injured his left quadriceps in the process. He said he was injured trying to play bump-and-run coverage on a player twice his size.
``His weight came down on me the wrong way,'' said Bailey, who thought he'd be ready for the Pittsburgh game on Oct. 21 after some rest this week thanks to a bye.
Bailey still can't believe how badly the defense got torched. However, he said the team has to forget about it.
``One thing you can't do is dwell on it,'' Bailey said. ``You learn from it and keep moving on. You worry about that loss and the next team will get you.''
Bailey said the defense wants to vindicate itself after some lackluster performances.
``We're playing with a chip on our shoulders,'' Bailey said. ``We need to be more aggressive in every part of the game.''
Lynch senses the Broncos are being discounted after such a lopsided home loss, and that's fine with him.
``I know to people it looks like, 'Oh, this team is awful,''' Lynch said. ``But that's not the case.
``We've got to show it.''