5 bright spots in Broncos' ugly 24-16 loss to Raiders in season opener

Chad Jensen

The Denver Broncos fell to the Oakland Raiders 24-16 in the season opener. It was a less-than-impressive debut of Vic Fangio's squad. 

Right now, fans are reeling, trying to figure out where all that preseason optimism went. It was a total team loss, with the Broncos being outdone in scheme, execution and effort, mostly across the board. 

However, there were a few bright spots in the Broncos' loss. Let's touch on them. 

Courtland Sutton, WR

Lost amid the doom and gloom of Week 1's road loss in the Black Hole was Sutton's career performance. The second-year wideout finished with career-highs in receptions (7) and yards (120). 

For a season debut, it was a very encouraging performance from Sutton. He was able to create opportunities over the middle of the field, securing the catch and picking up additional yardage. He wasn't just a 9-route threat. 

Joe Flacco, QB

It wasn't a perfect performance from Flacco. There were a few snaps where perhaps he held onto the ball too long and took a sack but I didn't notice him missing open receivers. 

Flacco's arm strength and accuracy were sharp and mostly on point. He finished 21-of-31 for 268 yards and a touchdown pass, with a rating of 105.3. It the was highest rating for a Broncos' QB since 2017 and the second-best yardage total in a debut for the team. 

Not perfect, especially in the red zone. But Flacco was encouraging. It was something to build on in his first game in Rich Scangarello's offense. 

Josey Jewell, ILB

Jewell finished with a career-high 13 combined tackles (seven solo) vs. the Raiders. He was all over the field as a run defender, though he bit on play-action too hard at times and struggled in coverage. 

Once the Broncos get fellow starting ILB Todd Davis back, hopefully the defensive product on the field will look more similar to what Coach Fangio had envisioned. What a start to the season for Jewell, though, who operated with the radio in his helmet as the defensive signal-caller. 

Kareem Jackson, S

Jackson really shined in the second half. He finished the game third on the team with seven combined tackles (five solo) and two passes defensed. 

Playing the strong safety position, Jackson looked good. But with the Broncos' depth struggles at cornerback, the team might want to consider to continue splitting his duties in the defensive backfield between safety and nickel, especially with Bryce Callahan's timetable still up in the air. 

Emmanuel Sanders, WR

It wasn't Sanders' fault that Scangarello and Flacco didn't decide to go to him until the fourth quarter, but the veteran wideout still found a way to make a big impact in this game. 

Finishing with five receptions on seven targets for 86 receiving yards and Denver's lone touchdown, Sanders proved that he can still be a sharp tool for this offense — if the coordinator and quarterback can be savvy enough to utilize him. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.