MILE HIGH MONDAY

Mile High Monday: Don’t completely dismiss the Broncos dismal effort

Aug 22, 2022, 6:40 AM
Broncos vs. Bills...
(Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos had a rough weekend. They were absolutely embarrassed in their second preseason game. On the road against the Buffalo Bills, the Broncos fell by a score of 42-15.

I like the preseason. This is the time of year when you can learn a lot about your team. I think the Broncos are going through that process right now with one more preseason game to go.

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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Put Allen in the Past

It sucks that the Broncos didn’t draft Josh Allen when he came out of the University of Wyoming. I really can’t believe it didn’t happen. With former general manager John Elway running the show, the Broncos should have noticed a player who was built and played like a younger version of the Hall of Fame quarterback. This should have been cemented when the Broncos coached Allen during the week of practices at the Senior Bowl in 2018. That’s why I was so shocked to see more people sent from The Fan than the Broncos at Allen’s pro day.

It’s time to put Allen in the past, however. He’s great, and Allen is arguably the best quarterback in all of football. It took some time, but the Bills were able to cater an offense to his skill set and he made the right strides as a passer. I’m happy for Bills fans, but Broncos fans can forget about “what might have been” because of the trade for Russell Wilson.

We’re going to see the Broncos in the playoff chase this year because of the new guys on this team. They have a new head coach in Nathaniel Hackett and a new quarterback in Wilson. Both gentlemen are way better than their predecessors. Having Hackett craft an offense that is designed for Wilson will get the best play out of the veteran quarterback. Getting the best from Wilson, perhaps the best in his career, will automatically put the Broncos in the running for a playoff berth.

The Broncos have corrected the quarterback situation in a big way with Wilson. It would have been nice for Allen to stay close to Wyoming, and the last six seasons have been mostly painful to watch. With Wilson under center, the Broncos are back where they belong – in the playoff conversation – and that’s why Broncos fans can let the dream about Allen go.

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What Have We Learned?

The game against the Bills should show you a lot of things about this team if you’re willing to think critically about the Broncos. It’s funny (sad) when after a game like this, team-friendly media types (who don’t study the game closely) will proselytize about how “it’s only the preseason” so there’s nothing to worry about. I’m not going into panic mode with the way the Broncos have played over two games, but these contests are revealing some concerns.

First, the Broncos rush defense will have to be better in the regular season. I believe it will be, but after over 300 yards gained on the ground by two teams (Cowboys, Bills), it shows a potential area of concern for the 2022 season. If the Broncos want to “let Russ cook” on offense, they need to possess the ball. That’s something an opponent can disrupt by running the ball early and often. Running the ball wears out the defense, and it also uses up the time of possession. That puts more stress on the offense when they finally do hit the field. I would anticipate teams try to soften up the Broncos on the ground this season.

Second, the Broncos rushing offense will have to improve, as well. Before you start with the “starters didn’t play” rant, just realize my concern is with the timing. This offense is going to have the capability of dominating on the ground. It must, because the entire scheme is built off running the ball effectively. If you can do that, it sets up play-action passing and that’s where the field-flipping plays come from. The backup running backs and offensive linemen are not as good with timing as the starters are. I believe in this scheme, and when run exactly as designed it is nigh unstoppable. The timing up front, and proper patience from the running backs, must be perfect in order for this offense to run like a well-oiled machine.

As I said on Twitter on Sunday morning, I’m not happy the Bills were able to throttle the Broncos. I’m not going to lose sleep over the game, but I do want to see progress in the two main areas of concern that have been revealed during the preseason. The Broncos are built to make a playoff run in 2022. That won’t happen if they can’t stop the run and run the ball the way they need to this season. I believe the starters make the difference, and I hope the backups improve as much as they can because they have not performed at a high level in these areas.

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Let’s Be Real

Montrell Washington is good at football. Only a fool would deny his physical traits – quickness, speed, agility. However, as former NFL GM Scot McCloughan told me years ago, “physical ability is easy to see.” Anyone claiming Washington as some sort of sleeper pick is just lying to you.

Washington was surprised he was drafted at all, but I know a few teams who wanted him on day three of the draft. Instead of chancing it, the Broncos selected Washington in the fifth round before another team could pluck him off the board.

At the time, I didn’t like the pick. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the player – again, Washington is good at football and physical traits are easy to see. However, there were players on the board in the fifth round who I think would have been better fits for the Broncos this season and in the future. Guys like Isaih Pacheco (RB, Rutgers) and Tariq Woolen (CB, UTSA) spring to mind when I go back to the players I liked in that round. The Broncos brought Pacheco in for a top-30 visit, and Woolen is a 6-foot-4 cornerback with 4.2 speed. Both players would bring great potential to rooms (running back, cornerback) that need more talent.

The Kansas City Chiefs added Pacheco in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft, while the Seattle Seahawks picked up Woolen about 10 picks before Washington in the fifth round. There are almost daily reports about Pacheco being the star of Chiefs camp. In fact, he’s pushing for the starting job (getting plenty of first-team reps) on one of the most explosive offenses in the league.

By not selecting Pacheco, the Broncos gave the Chiefs another weapon. Woolen is rough, but he’s a developmental prospect with speed and length – plus, he’s been picking off Drew Lock in practice. That’s not a high degree of difficulty to do that, but at least the young man is showing well in his development.

One catch in a preseason game is not going to change my mind – or make me rush to social media to break my arm patting myself on the back. Washington has impressed me as a receiver during training camp. It’s clear the team likes him, and I believe we could see a package of plays for him in the regular season. However, his size limits how and where he can be used on the field and in this offense the No. 3, No. 4, or No. 5 receiver just won’t get that many looks.

I still would have preferred a potential star running back or developmental cornerback with rare physical traits over a slot-only receiver and return man (especially when I thought Jalen Virgil could be picked late for that role). If Washington turns into Antonio Brown (on the field) – great! Prove me wrong and I’ll be happy to talk about it. But if he’s a reserve receiver and a return man while other players drafted behind him turn into regular contributors with Pro Bowl upside then we can question the timing of the pick. Only time will tell.

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Thank You, Saul Goodman

I don’t have much time to watch TV. Football and comic books keep me busy all the time, so if I take time to watch a TV show it must be good. With so many streaming services and so much quality television available, there are a lot of things I miss out on. However, there are some projects I eagerly wait for every season. That’s how I was when “Breaking Bad” was on the air, and that’s how I’ve been over the six-season run of the prequel/followup series “Better Call Saul” on AMC.

The character Saul Goodman was one of the most fascinating (and funny) characters from “Breaking Bad.” When I heard he was getting a spinoff show, I was elated. I love the character, and I wanted to see how he became the lawyer he was in “Breaking Bad.” Not to give too much away, but I also wanted to see what happened to him after “Breaking Bad” ended. The series for “Better Call Saul” answered both of those questions. In addition, “Better Call Saul” ended up being greater than its predecessor.

It’s not a hot take, but I liked BCS more than BB. Things are close, because both shows must be in or near the top 10 of all-time TV shows, but BCS gets a slight edge. “Breaking Bad” was more edge-of-your-seat TV with plenty of action and great story. “Better Call Saul” was a slow burn with plenty of character development with some intense action sprinkled in. The series wrapped up last Monday night, and I couldn’t be happier with how the story ended.

What did you think of the finale and the series overall? Hit me up on social media and let me know!

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