The Denver Broncos opened the 2019 season and the Vic Fangio era with a major dud on Monday Night Football, losing 24-16 to an Oakland Raiders team who were supposed to be feeling the effects of the Antonio Brown-saga. Instead, the Raiders owned every facet of the game, dealing a gut punch to a Broncos team who felt like this year would be a marked improvement over last season. Here are three takeaways from the Broncos loss.
Joe Flacco started his Broncos career not looking sharp at all. For the game, he was 21/31 with 268 yards and one touchdown. Flacco was brought in to replace Case Keenum, who himself had a career day Sunday in his debut with the Redskins. The line did not help as Flacco was constantly under pressure from the Raiders rush, being sacked three times for a total loss of 19 yards. The running game couldn’t get going as last year’s stud Phillip Lindsay only ran for 43 yards on 11 carries, and Royce Freeman had 56 yards on 10 carries. Receiver Courtland Sutton was the only bright spot on offense, catching seven passes for 120 yards.
What was supposed to be a strength turned out to be a huge unmatching as the defense could not get anything going against the Raiders offense. Quarterback Derek Carr put 259 yards on 22 completions and had one touchdown pass. Josh Jacobs rushed for 85 yards and receiver Tyrell Williams caught six passes for 105 yards. Carr was under no pressure at all, in fact, he was never hit by the Broncos front seven ever. Linebacker Von Miller recorded five tackles while Bradley Chubb had three. The Broncos as a unit only had two tackles for loss. Clearly, the Bronco defense was vastly outmatched against Jon Gruden’s Raiders.
The Broncos could do nothing in the red zone, the difference maker in the loss to Oakland. Denver only scored one red zone touchdown, a one-yard pass from Flacco to Emmanuel Sanders with two minutes to go in the game. The rest of the scoring came on the leg of kicker Brandon McManus.The opportunities were there for the Broncos to score and keep the game close, as they entered the red zone on four occasions. The Raiders also had four red zone opportunities as well, however they scored three touchdowns. The Broncos will need to tighten up their red zone offense if they hope to be competitive this season.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Broncos. Next week they host the Chicago Bears, then travel to Green Bay. They follow that up with a home match against Jacksonville then head to Los Angeles to face the Chargers. Some retooling will be necessary in the coming weeks.
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