“This is a big game for us. Winning the last game – we’ve been talking about it – these last two games are playoff games for us,” Gase said. “And we want to make sure that we’re heading in the right direction with what we’re doing on offense.”
While his quarterback,
“I know we need to win this game,” Gase said. “So whatever we need to do to win this game, that is what we’re going to try to do. And then whatever happens with all the rest of that stuff, it happens. But at the end of the day, we need to win the game.”
Accomplishing that will require navigating a Raiders defense that the Broncos haven’t faced since mid-September – when Denver defeated Oakland 37-21 in Week 3.
Having nearly an entire regular season elapse between the teams’ last meeting, Gase said, heightens the challenge of preparing for the Raiders this time around.
“It makes it a little more difficult because you’ve got to go back and see what they did against us, what they were before they played us, and see where they’re at right now,” Gase said. “There have been some changes for them, personnel wise. They’ve had some injuries that have kind of shuffled some things around for them, so that’s changed a little bit of what they’ve done but at the same time they still do it, just a different way to get to what they’re doing.”
One key cog to the record-breaking success of the Denver offense this season has been the dependable production of running back
And as Moreno has elevated his game to new heights this season, Gase cited the running back’s personal growth as one of the biggest factors contributing to his success.
“Probably maturity—you can see how he’s really grown up as a person,” Gase said. “He’s carried that over to the football field, I still think he has his moments on the field where he gets a little fired up, and that’s a good thing though. We want to see that out of our guys. We can tell he cares a lot about (football), it means a lot to him.”
Moreno has rushed for a career-high 1,015 yards in 2013 and, at times, has been called upon to bear the brunt of the load on the ground attack – such as in Week 12 at New England, when Moreno carried 37 times for 224 yards.
Whether Moreno has the ball in his hands or not, however, Gase noted that his running back’s willingness to do whatever it takes to help the offense has been one of his most valuable characteristics.
“He wants to make sure he does the best he can for his teammates—he’s such a team player,” Gase said. “He never says anything about, ‘Hey give me the ball,’ or ‘Can I get more touches?’ He never says anything, and I know there have been a few situations where we probably should have stayed with him or gone to him more. He’s always just done what we’ve asked him to do and that’s really been impressive.”
And while Moreno and rookie running back
“I’d love to get – whether it’s Ronnie or C.J. – and get them both going,” Gase said. “If they can take a few carries off both of those guys, that would be great because they do bring a little different dimension. Ronnie brings an explosion that we don’t really have with anybody else. And if we can give him a couple of opportunities a game, that would be helpful to the offense.”
Pulling Out the Penalties
One area that was less-than-satisfactory from the Broncos’ 37-13 win over the Texans last Sunday, Gase noted, were the Broncos’ numerous penalties on the offensive side of the ball.
“That was a very unusual deal for us,” he said. “We keep track of what we’re doing on our side of the ball and we’ve been very good as far as our penalties per the amount of plays we have per game. And that was very unusual for us. To have them all up front, that was very disappointing and we’ve addressed that.”
A pair of contributing factors to the penalties, Gase noted, were the pressure and dangerous capabilities of the Texans’ defensive front.
“I think a little bit was who we were playing. That’s a tough group that they were going against,” Gase said. “Obviously (Texans defensive ends) J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith – those guys are coming every play and you’re doing everything you can to battle to make sure that Peyton doesn’t get hit and making sure they don’t get clean shots in the back. And sometimes, all of the sudden, you accidentally pull a guy – you’re trying to get a little bit of a jump on them. You know, we get a false start, a holding.
“We’ve just got to clean those up.”