ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- An examination of four hot issues from the Denver Broncos’ 37-21 win over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night:
Need more security: Despite all of the good the Broncos' offense constructed last season, their running backs were still among the league’s worst at hanging on to the ball (a league-leading seven lost fumbles, tied with Buffalo for highest in NFL). And this season, even as they pile up the points and platitudes, Denver's running backs have already lost two fumbles -- both by rookie Montee Ball. And eventually it’s going to sting because those are often momentum-swinging plays. The Broncos need to be able to close games out without having to rely on quarterback Peyton Manning to throw on late-game, third-and-4 situations because they don't trust the backs to hang on to the ball.
Ayers on verge of breakout: He may be just an overnight sensation five seasons in the making. Through the defensive changes, role changes and on-field struggles at times, DE Robert Ayers has always contended that all he really needed was an opportunity and the right fit in the system. Well, he leads the team with three sacks, and no player may have benefited more from Jack Del Rio being back for a second consecutive year as the Broncos defensive playcaller than Ayers has.
The four-pack: Manning has no shortage of impact targets and has used them liberally in three games, with five different players having caught at least one touchdown pass. The Broncos are also one of just three teams after three games to have four different players with at least 14 receptions. New Orleans and Dallas are the other two.
Woodyard a foundation player: He may not get the attention some other guys do around the league, but in a season when Von Miller and Champ Bailey haven’t played in the Broncos' defense yet, linebacker Wesley Woodyard is this team's Swiss Army knife given all the personnel groupings Del Rio likes to use. Woodyard played all 54 snaps on defense Monday night, and only cornerback Chris Harris and safety Rahim Moore have logged more snaps for Denver's D this season.