MILE HIGH MONDAY

Mile High Monday: Javonte Williams can make the second-year leap

Jun 26, 2022, 11:50 PM
DENVER, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 28: Javonte Williams #33 of the Denver Broncos celebrates scoring a tou...
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos are on a break before training camp. But none of that matters, as anyone and everyone who loves Colorado sports are dialed in on the Colorado Avalanche. They were able to finish off their season with a championship – their third in franchise history!

I like teams who chase a championship in Denver. The Avalanche and the Broncos are the only ones to do that since the Colorado Rockies are, well, the Rockies and the Denver Nuggets talk about championship or bust but are mostly the latter due to lack of putting enough talent around back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic.

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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Mission 16W Accomplished!

I felt the Stanley Cup Final was going to go seven games. The Tampa Bay Lightning were back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, and they were known for incredible defense. The Avalanche were arguably the most talented team in the league, and they were known for offense. What the Avs were going to do required them to go against the history of the NHL.

There was an old saying that a team can’t win a Stanley Cup without a great goaltender – something the Avalanche don’t have in Darcy Kuemper. On the other side, the Lightning perhaps had the best goaltender in the NHL in recent history. Even when the Avs went up 2=0, I thought it will still be a seven-game series. It almost made it there, but the Avs were done messing around when they used – gasp – defense to win the Stanley Cup in Game 6.

I think a lot of the credit needs to go to Kuemper for his play over the course of the Stanley Cup Final, but especially in Game 6. He made some great stops for the Avs as they went on to win it all 2-1 over the Lightning on Sunday night. Even though most feel Kuemper is a slightly below average goaltender, they would not have won without his strong play in the final game.

I’m so proud of what the Avalanche have done. They were the best team in hockey, but they didn’t lose sight of their ultimate goal – to be Stanley Cup Champions!

***

Year Two Difference

Running backs making the jump from college to the NFL have a much shorter transition time than players at other positions. While other players must learn the speed and discipline of the game, running backs can come from college to the pros and pretty much do what they did to get to the league in the first place. This is what you see with most every running back, but there are a few exceptions in NFL history (see former first-round pick Thomas Jones).

Javonte Williams was a player the Broncos felt compelled to move up for in the second round of the 2021 NFL draft, and the front office was over the moon when they were able to select him. Williams played well as a rookie, splitting time with veteran Melvin Gordon, and finished his first year in the NFL with 1,219 yards from scrimmage, seven touchdowns and an average of 5.1 yards per touch. These numbers are comparable to a couple of young backs in Broncos history who got to be featured early in their careers.

Knowshon Moreno and Phillip Lindsay both earned starting nods in their first seasons with the Broncos (2009, 2018 respectively). Moreno was a first-round pick and Lindsay was undrafted, but both were good enough for the Broncos to lean on as rookies. However, both backs peaked in their first pro seasons compared to year two. Moreno’s numbers fell off in his second season even though he started more games (13) than he did as a rookie (9). Lindsay’s numbers were nearly identical from year one to year two, but they were slightly down and his yards per touch fell from 5.6 to 4.7 in 2018 compared to 2019.

I’m looking forward to what Williams can do in year two of his pro career. I think his numbers will not decline like both Moreno and Lindsay’s did for the Broncos in their second seasons. Williams started one game as a rookie while Moreno (9) and Lindsay (8) had more of an opportunity as starters. This is remarkable to consider when you realize Williams almost had the best numbers for any of the three rookie backs when it comes to yards from scrimmage (1,219 for Williams, 1,278 for Lindsay, 1,160 for Moreno).

I believe in Williams, and I think he can be a special back in this league. With more opportunities to showcase his skill, Williams should be able to show off his amazing talent even more in year two.

***

Hook Em

For at least the last few years, football fans have been waiting for quarterback Arch Manning to decide where he was going to play college football. On Thursday, Manning made his decision to play for the Texas Longhorns. Manning, the son of Cooper Manning and nephew of both Eli and Peyton Manning is the No. 1 recruit in the 2023 class and has the skill set of a superstar as soon as he steps onto campus in Austin.

Manning’s game is what you would expect from someone with his last name, but the young quarterback also has some traits that some would not expect. He’s certainly a cerebral quarterback with a rare understanding of the game and defensive concepts that most high school prospects do not have. Manning has no trouble playing under duress, and he’s got the rocket arm to make any throw required of him. In addition to what he can do with his mind and his arm, Manning has rushing ability that Eli and Peyton did not have. He’s more than sneaky athletic, and Manning can gash a defense with his legs if he needs to. Manning will read the field and exhaust all options as a passer, but if he needs to run he will – and he can hurt a defense who is already stressed out by his passing ability.

The decision of Texas may be a surprise to some with his father Cooper, grandfather Archie and uncle Eli having played college football at Ole Miss. Some felt he could follow in his uncle Peyton’s footsteps and head to the University of Tennessee. Instead, Arch Manning is going to make a name for himself with the Longhorns. However, the young Manning is still carrying on the tradition of a Manning playing in the SEC. The Longhorns are in the Big-12 for the 2023 season, but they will make their SEC debut in 2025 – when Manning should be entrenched as the starter. No matter when he gets on the field, watching Arch Manning will be must-see TV for all football fans.

Manning should be another great quarterback. He’s going to play for the Longhorns in the 2023 season – unless they redshirt him next season since they have a stacked quarterback room – and three years after that we should see him in the NFL. His college career is going to be fun, but it’s also going to be fun to watch NFL teams fall over themselves to get in position to draft Manning the year he comes out.

***

That’s a Wrap

This week the Disney+ series “Obi Wan Kenobi” aired the final episode. We don’t know yet if we’re only going to get one season, but after the way this ended, I hope a second season will happen in the future. I’m not going to spoil things for you if you haven’t watched it, but I would love to break down what we saw in this series so far and why a second season could be coming to our TVs.

The series was too short, only six episodes long, but it also was full of things that didn’t help the story move along as it should. I think Disney could have split ‘Obi Wan Kenobi’ into two shows – one about Kenobi and one about the jedi hunters known as The Inquisitors. Instead of spending time on the character Third Sister, who could carry a show on her own, this show should have focused solely on the relationship between Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and the Skywalker children Luke and Leia.

The series finale revealed the direction they were going in the previous five episodes, and the twist that was revealed wasn’t much of a twist for anyone who watched the show. If they had hit things more on the mark as the show was going on, the series would not have felt rushed. I like where they went with the character but focusing on other characters – in arcs that didn’t do much for ‘story A’ – meant the show fell off track far too often.

Did you like the finale of ‘Obi Wan Kenobi’? Hit me up on social networking and let me know!

***

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