BRONCOS

Mile High Monday: Young stars on the rise have the Broncos in the hunt

Nov 29, 2021, 6:20 AM
Javonte Williams...
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos did not ruin my Sunday. Instead of being frustrated by this coaching staff, I am over the moon with the Broncos 28-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 12. They are still in the playoff hunt at 6-5 with four more divisional games coming up in the next six contests.

I like when the Broncos are playing meaningful football in December. Next week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football is the most important game they’ve played since Super Bowl 50. With the AFC West lead on the line, it’s a huge contest with incredible meaning for this team.

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ! The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.

***

Next Gen ILB

Broncos general manager George Paton has found an impact player in Baron Browning. He was a third-round pick for the Broncos coming out of Ohio State in the 2021 NFL Draft. I saw him down at the Reese’s Senior Bowl last January and came away impressed.

I thought the Broncos got a potential starter when they drafted Browning, and he had the versatility to play as a pass-rusher or as an inside linebacker. He’s done both for the team, but Browning is now starting and starring for the Vic Fangio defense as an ILB.

He’s a new generation linebacker, and that’s why he is shining on a weekly basis. Browning is supremely gifted as an athlete and can play sideline-to-sideline football. He has a nose for the ball, but it’s his ability in coverage that makes him a “next gen LB.”

The league is pass-happy as the day is long, and the days of having thumpers at ILB who stuff the run but can’t cover is a thing of the past. This is why guys like Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson were throwbacks. Good players against the run but dinosaurs in today’s game where the pass game is king and tight ends are used like super-sized wide receivers.

I hope Browning continues to stay healthy and shine for the Broncos. It’s been years since this team had an inside linebacker who can cover like Browning. The league has changed, and the type of ILB you need is exactly the type of player Browning is. Even though I liked the idea of him playing on the outside after he was drafted, Browning certainly has found a home inside – and he’s making big plays for this defense.

***

Gotta Wear Shades

There is a tradition with the Broncos that is going to continue in the future. That tradition is the presence of intimidating safeties who can make big plays. For years, the Broncos defense has featured some of the best safeties in the NFL. Guys like Steve Atwater, Dennis Smith, John Lynch, Brian Dawkins and others have patrolled the secondary for the Broncos and made big plays from the safety position a common occurrence in Denver.

Rookie Caden Sterns looks to be carrying on the tradition. It’s early in his career, but with Kareem Jackson out with a neck injury we got to see more from Sterns, and he responded in a big way. Sterns seemed to be all over the field, a skill set he showed in college at the University of Texas, and when he arrived at the ball-carrier it was with bad intentions.

I knew he was a “centerfielder” prospect from his college tape. I knew he was athletic and at least would be a nice special teams player as a rookie. Sterns is blowing all my expectations away as a first-year player. He’s roaming around the field, but he’s also flying to the ball and can dish out a big hit if given the opportunity.

Sterns plays with a nice combination of intelligence, athleticism and tenacity. He had a star season with the Longhorns as a freshman and then fought through injuries over the rest of his college career. It appears the Broncos got a steal in the draft because Sterns is staying healthy and playing up to his potential. Sterns is taking what he flashed as a collegian and fitting nicely in the pros.

***

Star in the Making

Javonte Williams was my No. 1 running back in this draft class. The Broncos moved up in the second round to take him before other teams like the Dolphins could. They were excited to get him, and I was elated that he made his way to the Mile High City.

It seems like every week; Williams makes at least one play that shows you a glimpse of what he could be with a larger role. Against the Chargers on Sunday, it was a 42-yard catch-and-run from Williams that highlighted a part of his game people don’t usually talk about.

Williams leads the league in broken tackles and averages one broken tackle per six rushes, also best in the league. His power as a runner is always talked about because Williams is usually spending part of his Sunday running over multiple defenders. However, it’s his ability in pass-protection and as a receiver out of the backfield that cannot be overlooked.

The rookie is not just an average back. He’s not just a player who should be a valuable backup and touch the ball on a limited basis. Williams is the type of player who should start, be featured and make Pro Bowls as one of the best running backs in the league.

Hopefully the Broncos start using him even more as the season wears on. If they have any chance of making the postseason, it will come on the play of the rushing attack. If (when?) the coaching staff is replaced, I hope the new staff admires Williams ability as much as I do.

***

Calm Before the Storm

It was kind of a quiet week in the world of comic book nerds such as myself. However, things are going to heat up incredibly during the month of December.

Things kick off with the new Spider-man movie “No Way Home” which I usually write about in this article. That movie, which should blow your mind with multiverse cameos and appearances gets here on Dec. 16. Tickets go on sale today, and I anticipate quite a few of the early showings will be sold out – so plan accordingly if you want to go.

However, I’m most excited for “Matrix Resurrections” on HBO Max which comes out on Dec. 22 and is free to watch at home. It’s one of those movies that must be enjoyed in a theater, so I’ll probably be hitting up my local cinema at least a couple of times to see this movie. I’ll go more if the movie meets or exceeds my expectations.

The original “Matrix” movie was a mind-bending experience that I enjoyed over and over again. While the sequel movies after that (Reloaded and Revolutions) were not that great, they did not rob me of my fondness for the original. After the way things ended peacefully between man and machine in “Revolutions” I’m curious to see where things have gone since then. Why does Keanu Reeves go back to the Matrix? I can’t wait to find out!

Are you excited for these movies in December? Hit me up on social media and let me know!

Broncos

(Graphic by Johnny Hart/Bonneville Denver)...
James Merilatt

State of the Broncos: Can a talented wide receiver corps blossom in ’22?

A disappointing 2021 season can be blamed on bad QB play and a conservative offense, but the Broncos "big four" wideouts share some blame
16 hours ago
DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 12: Javonte Williams #33 of the Denver Broncos is congratulated on his ...
104.3 The Fan

State of the Broncos: Breaking down the running back position

As the Broncos continue with their offseason, DenverFan.com's Rachel Vigil and James Merilatt examine Denver's running backs
16 hours ago
Kevin O'Connell...
Cecil Lammey

Don’t sleep on Kevin O’Connell as future head coach of the Broncos

The former quarterback has risen up the NFL ranks quickly, becoming a trusted part of Sean McVay's staff in LA, making him a serious candidate
16 hours ago
Drop the Mike...
Mike Evans

There were a lot of Broncos takeaways from Super Wild Card Weekend

Watching the Cowboys lose to the 49ers brought up some angst about Dan Quinn, but not in the way that most of Broncos Country might think
16 hours ago
TAMPA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 09: Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn of the Dallas Cowboys looks on befor...
James Merilatt

The Broncos will have competition if they want to hire Dan Quinn

With five interviews currently scheduled, the Cowboys defensive coordinator is going to be in high demand, by some teams with more to offer
2 days ago
DENVER, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 28: Denver Broncos general manager George Paton walks out on the field ...
John Clayton

Clayton: The Broncos have an advantage over other teams in HC search

With so many of the other teams looking for a new head coach still in need of a general manager, Denver might be able to make an offer earlier
2 days ago
Mile High Monday: Young stars on the rise have the Broncos in the hunt