Broncos reveal few flaws through three weeks

Jack Dempsey/Associated Press file photo

Denver is 3-0, ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press’ power rankings, and its offense has hummed through its undefeated turn through the start of this season. But if the Broncos are nitpicking, rookie running back Montee Ball dropped a fumble in the second consecutive game. “Like a lot of things at this time, you remember some of the negatives,” head coach John Fox said.

By Eddie Pells
AP National Writer

ENGLEWOOD

Yes, there were a few flaws among all those touchdowns.

Because they’re facing a short work week, the Broncos only will receive a small “corrections reel” that details mistakes they made in their latest runaway win over Oakland.

And really, that’s probably all they’ll need.

Denver’s 37-21 victory over the Raiders was yet another near-perfect performance from Peyton Manning and an offense that essentially only gets stopped when it stops itself.

That happened in a few instances Monday night, giving Manning and head coach John Fox just enough material to remind themselves that there’s work to be done.

“It’s still only Game 3. We’re not even a quarter of the way into the season,” Fox said Tuesday. “I hope we do a lot of improving.”

While there isn’t much room for Manning to improve after a 32-for-37, three-touchdown night that gave him a record 12 scoring passes through three games, there are areas around him that could use some shoring up.

Rookie running back Montee Ball lost his second fumble in two weeks. This one came when the Broncos were trying to run out the clock while leading by 23. It was a perfect, no-pressure opportunity to work on the so-called “4-minute drill” that the Broncos could not execute in their playoff loss to Baltimore last year, which, in turn, played a role in drafting Ball in the second round.

“It’s something we obviously need to get cleaned up,” Fox said. “We need to work at it very hard, but he’s still going to play a lot of football for us.”

As will left tackle Chris Clark, whose overall solid night was marred by the blindside sack and fumble he gave up to Lamarr Houston in the third quarter. It was a play the Broncos could shrug off because they won big and nobody got hurt. Of course, not all blindside crushings of quarterbacks come without consequences.

“Like a lot of things at this time, you remember some of the negatives,” Fox said. “He did a lot of good things. What rings true without looking at the tape is the sack-fumble. But all-in-all, we have great confidence in Chris.”

The defense also left Monday’s game feeling less-than-perfect. Denver gave up 342 yards, including 289 in passing to Terrelle Pryor, who came in with a total of 335 in his first two games.

Of course, almost all of it came after the game had gotten well out of hand. But the Broncos always are looking for the complete game.

“We probably played a little bit loose,” cornerback Chris Harris said. “I’m not giving excuses. They made plays. A lot of things happened when he scrambled. We have another scrambling quarterback this week. That’s something we need to improve on.”

Indeed, the Broncos must get prepared for Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles played last Thursday and have nine days to prepare. The Broncos get five.

Agitated at the disparity?

“I’m just agitated I’m not upstairs working right now,” Fox said during his 8-minute, 29-second news conference.

Tuesday is game-plan day around the NFL, even for teams that played the night before. When Manning starts looking at the Eagles’ defense, he’ll see a unit that ranks 29th in pass defense, giving up 323 yards a game.

Manning has averaged 381 a game and has yet to throw an interception.

Fox, not surprisingly, was unwilling to call this the best offense he’s ever been around.

But even with the few flaws, he concedes he likes what he sees.

“Well, 3-0. It’s hard to be better than that in three games,” he said.

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