MILE HIGH MONDAY

Mile High Monday: Wilson-Manning film work is a thing of beauty

May 16, 2022, 6:30 AM | Updated: 6:33 am
Russell Wilson...
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos held their rookie minicamp over the weekend, another sign that the NFL offseason is building steam after the draft. I was out there for practice, and you can feel the new energy with this team every time you see them on the field.

I like getting a look at the new rookie class on the football field. It’s great to be back out at UC Health Training Center on a regular basis, and this Broncos team has plenty of excitement around them for the 2022 season.

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.

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Thrills and Chills

Russell Wilson is here to win Super Bowls, and his addition this offseason has a similar feel to what things were like when the team signed Peyton Manning back in 2012. The Broncos had won a playoff game with Tim Tebow at quarterback in 2011, but they weren’t a threat to win a Super Bowl with that formula. When Manning arrived in Denver (and Tebow was traded away) there was no doubt they were Super Bowl contenders.

I still believe the 2012 Broncos were the best Broncos team under Manning. They were a complete team, unlike 2013 which was all offense and 2015 which was all defense. I think the 2022 Broncos could be like that 2012 version.

One side of the ball is not stronger than the other with the Broncos this season. Wilson makes the offense so much better, but I think this defense could make more plays than they did under Vic Fangio and give the team much-needed balance to make a championship run.

A video was released of a recent film study session between Wilson and Manning. You could see Wilson going over video from a recent minicamp with Manning looking over his shoulder. Watching the video, I got chills. This is a Hall of Fame quarterback giving advice to a future Hall of Fame quarterback – both of them Broncos quarterbacks. Manning is such a great resource, and he’s willing to be there to help his team. I know, I know, the Indianapolis Colts drafted him but he’s a Bronco to me – and Manning loves it here, making Denver his home after his playing days were done. Manning is passing on his knowledge to Wilson – and he’s listening intently as he wants to be remembered the way Manning is – as one of the greatest of all time.

It’s hard to believe that it’s 10 years since Manning was signed, but to see him still around this team in any capacity is a joy to watch. Manning cares about the Broncos, and he’s willing to doll out whatever advice is needed for Wilson. I believe that Wilson has another five to seven years left of playing at a high level, clearly more time than Manning had when he joined the Broncos. Manning went to two Super Bowls with Denver (should have been three) and won one. I believe Wilson could win more than one championship during his time with the Broncos – and that belief is strengthened when I see him and Manning working together.

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Still Have Work To Do

Free agency has come and gone, with the Broncos adding some quality talent from the free agent pool of veteran players. The Broncos have drafted a (mostly) strong class or rookies. They’ve also added a nice collection of undrafted free agents to build depth on this roster. However, they still have work to do.

Gary Davenport, from Bleacher Report, listed all of the remaining needs for every team in the league and I agree with his opinion on the Broncos biggest need – defensive end. The Broncos traded away Shelby Harris in the deal to get Wilson, and he’s likely the player they’ll miss the most from that deal. Losing Harris on the defensive line means fewer batted passes at the line of scrimmage, and they’ll have to find other players to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Today’s NFL is as pass happy as it’s ever been. To counter that, defenses have gotten lighter and faster – plus, dropping eight in coverage is what everyone does regularly. To counter that counter, offenses are turning to big running backs to run against lighter boxes. Thus, stopping the run when minus-1 on the line is a must. This means teams can still have eight players in coverage, but those three players on the defensive line had better eat up blocks and help stuff the run. Finding more talent on the defensive line is what every team needs to do, and I believe the Broncos have more question marks there than some think.

I think the Broncos could still be looking for talent – not just on the defensive line – as camp cuts happen across the league. Broncos general manager George Paton has the mind of a scout, and he’s going to be constantly looking for better talent.

The team did lose pro scout Jordan Dizon, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, last week – but Paton will have his team ready to pick up the slack. Dizon has a great eye for talent, so Paton has to make sure his group of scouts cover for that and remain vigilant when it comes to identifying talent currently on other rosters who might be available via trade or release.

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Not So Fast Pete

You’ve got to love Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. In an interview on Sports Radio KJR in Seattle recently, Carroll had some high praise for quarterback Drew Lock. “I think he’d have been the first guy picked, of quarterbacks anyway,” Carroll said. “He’d have been the first guy in this draft. I don’t have any hesitation saying that.”

That’s a great soundbite, but it’s certainly not true. Yes, it may be true in Carroll’s always positive mind, but the reality is that Lock would not have been the first quarterback off the board had he come out in this poor draft class.

Lock was the fourth quarterback selected in the 2019 NFL Draft, going off the board to the Broncos with the No. 42 overall pick. There were three quarterbacks selected in the first round that year, Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins. It was seen as a much stronger – not overly strong but better – than the class of quarterbacks coming into the draft this year. The Seahawks took Lock as part of the blockbuster trade for Wilson, and he’s set to compete for the starting job in training camp with Geno Smith. Seattle didn’t select a quarterback in this year’s draft, so it shows they might want to see what they have in Lock – if he can win the job.

I had Lock graded as a late first-round quarterback when he came out of Missouri in 2019. Even in this poor quarterback class, I think he’d be around the same spot. That means Kenny Pickett (PITT) would have gone first, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some would rank Malik Willis (Liberty) above him as well. I had Matt Corral (Ole Miss) as my No. 2 quarterback, but expected him to go in the second round or later due to injury concerns. So, could Lock have been drafted higher than No. 42 overall? Yes, but let’s not pretend like he would’ve been a top-10 pick or anything because of this poor draft class.

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Another Legend Lost

It was only a couple of weeks ago in “Mile High Monday” that I wrote about the death of legendary comic book artist Neal Adams. Shortly after his passing, the comic book world got the news of another legend lost when George Perez passed away. Perez revealed in December 2021 that he had inoperable pancreatic cancer and only had six to 12 months to live.

Growing up a comic book fan, I was introduced to Perez’s work right away. I remember reading Teen Titans in the ’80s, and it was Perez’s artwork which helped the title reach best-selling status during that time. He level of detail was incredible, and when you see his artwork it is distinctive to his style with plenty of realism. Very few artists are able to capture the human form, or superhero form, like Perez was able to do with characters like Batman and Wonder Woman.

While many know him for his work with DC Comics, I think my favorite Perez work came during his time with Marvel Comics. His covers and interior work on 1991’s “Infinity Gauntlet” was my favorite. Those stories and that artwork helped inspire the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the movies “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: End Game.” Those are two of the greatest superhero movies, and End Game is the best-selling movie of all time. These works are clearly inspired by the Jim Shooter story and Perez artwork (with Ron Lim doing some work on the title as well).

What are some of your favorite comic books drawn by Perez? Hit me up on social media and let me know!

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