ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Ranked atop the NFL in total offense, points per game and passing offense, it's safe to say that the Broncos' offense has seen its share of the spotlight during the first three weeks of the regular season.
But although the offense rolled up 536 total yards and erupted for 27 first-half points in the Broncos' 37-21 win over the Raiders on Monday night, Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase noted that there hasn't been time to reflect on the successes that the unit has had – only time for correcting miscues and improving its overall execution in preparation for the Eagles on Sunday.
"We had two hours to enjoy the game before you went to bed and next day we're on Philly," Gase said on Thursday. "We haven't had really a chance to look back and say, 'Hey, we were good in this.' I guess everything we're doing we're saying, 'We need to work on this, we need to improve on this,' and that's been our main focus this week is what do we have to fix from the last game."
Gase Takes Blame
One area that Gase underlined for improvement concerned the two turnovers – a pair of fumbles – that the Broncos conceded to the Raiders.
Both fumbles led to Oakland touchdowns, but one of them in particular – a third quarter sack of Manning where Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston got around the edge and hit the quarterback from behind, forcing a fumble – troubled Gase especially.
Gase took accountability for the fumble, noting that he believed his play call put tackle Chris Clark in a difficult position, which led to Houston's sack.
"I think the sack-fumble is the one that bothers me because that was a bad play call," Gase said. "I put Chris in a bad position there and that (play) was a ball-holder. We didn't need it and that would be one where I'd want to take back because our guys, if we put them in the right positions, they make it work."
"I feel like on that play (with) that play call, I didn't put them in the right position," he added. "That one bothers me and that's one that I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen again."
The Broncos also lost a Montee Ball fumble later in the fourth quarter, which set the Raiders up with advantageous field position for their final touchdown. And while the slip ultimately may not have cost the Broncos against the Raiders, Gase stressed the importance of hanging onto the football and finishing drives against the Eagles and future opponents.
"We need to be more successful in that area. We turn the ball over and we can't do that," he said. "Right there was a massive lesson. Thankfully for us it didn't affect the game. We have to figure out a way to hold onto the ball and finish that drive. We have to finish those drives with the ball in our hand or in the end zone, however it works out."
Clark Competes Well at Tackle
Although his name was called on the aforementioned fumble, Gase noted that Clark's performance throughout the game in his first start at left tackle was impressive.
"He did very well. I was impressed at (his) great communication," Gase said. "That's the biggest and the hardest part of what we do is making sure we're all on the same page."
While it was Clark's first time filling in for the injured Ryan Clady at left tackle, Gase pointed out that Clark was battle-tested throughout the offseason taking snaps with the first team while Clady was rehabilitating an injury.
Now that Clark has proven he can play at a high level, what remains is whether he can perform consistently throughout the season – as Gase noted.
"He's been doing it with the ones since the spring so he's ahead of the curve," Gase said. "Right now it's going to be, 'Hey, can he keep this up every game?' Like he told me after the game, that's the first time he's played a full game since college. Every week has just got to be a little bit better for him."
Gase noted that the improvements Clark has made in both run blocking and pass protection were evident in the Raiders game.
"I think that's the one thing that he worked on through the spring and in training camp, to be a better run blocker," Gase said. "We've always felt really good with him as a pass protector, and what he showed the other day, that's what we're looking for and he's only going to get better from here on out."
Sizing-Up the Eagles
In assessing the Eagles' defense, Gase made it clear that efficient, clean offensive execution will be at a premium for the Broncos against a unit that has forced five turnovers this season and has stiffened in the red zone.
"They're doing a good job of creating turnovers," Gase said. "They're doing a really good job in the red area and that's going to be our biggest struggle -- to make sure that we're scoring touchdowns in the red area and we're not kicking field goals."
Manning echoed his evaluation. "The Eagles defense, from what I've seen so far, is a defense that flies around," Manning said. "They're very stingy in the red zone; they can create turnovers."
And while wide receiver Demaryius Thomas noted that the Broncos expect a wide-array of looks from the Eagles' defense, he also pointed out that watching the squad on film will only reveal so much.
"They'll throw a lot of different things at us, different blitzes, coverage-wise," Thomas said. "Every week I feel like it's a challenge for us because we never know what somebody is going to do. We might watch film but we never know what they'll throw against us once we hit the field."