MILE HIGH MONDAY

The return of Javonte Williams was a smashing success

Aug 21, 2023, 5:59 AM

The Denver Broncos are 0-2 in the preseason. I’m not panicked, and you shouldn’t be either. I agree with head coach Sean Payton that a win does matter, and it would feel better, but these games don’t go on your record. I think we’ve seen some good players with good performances in both preseason games.

I like when players who have “popped” in camp show up in preseason games. Now, they need to take that momentum over to the regular season – which will be here before you know it.

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

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

***

Call Him a Lock

I’m so proud of undrafted rookie RB Jaleel McLaughlin. Coming out of Youngstown State, McLaughlin is the all-time leading rusher in college football history. With over 8,000 yards on the ground, some teams felt that McLaughlin had no tread left on his tires entering the pros. The Broncos added him as a priority free agent after the draft, and I felt early on he could be the next in a long line of undrafted players to make the final roster. Denver has a history of finding gems after the draft, and McLaughlin had the game to be the next one.

In two preseason games, I think we can call him a lock for the final roster. Even though he was listed as the final back on the initial depth chart, those who attended training camp knew the kid has special ability. While some reported Tyler Badie as the potential No. 3 back for the Broncos, fans and media in attendance at camp knew McLaughlin had the inside track on that job.

McLaughlin barely played against the Arizona Cardinals in the first preseason game, but he still managed to score a touchdown and flashed as both a runner and as a receiver. Against the San Francisco 49ers, McLaughlin continued his impressive play and scored two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) on the day. McLaughlin needs to have a package of plays for him in the regular season. While the Broncos can beat you up when they run the ball – with two backs – McLaughlin gives them speed and explosion that the others don’t have. You can have a backfield with thunder, but you need some lightning to truly threaten and influence the defense. McLaughlin is what I can an “inside/out” runner, because he works between the tackles before turning on the speed to the outside at the second level. Noted NFL Draft expert Matt Waldman, author of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio, called McLaughlin “Phillip Lindsay with hands” back in February, and now all of us can see that is the case.

I don’t think there’s any reason to expose McLaughlin to unnecessary injury by playing him against the Rams in the preseason finale. We’ll see what the team’s decision is about his playing status, but I believe there is no doubt that McLaughlin is making the 53-man roster.

***

33 is Back!

We saw the return of Broncos RB Javonte Williams to the playing field on Saturday. It was the return most of Broncos Country was anticipating since Williams went down with a multi-ligament knee injury in Week 4 of the 2022 season. Most ACL injuries take about 12 months to heal, but this injury was much more severe. Williams defied the odds to be ready in time for the regular season and seeing him on Saturday proved that he was almost back to being himself.

Last week, Payton said he wanted Williams to get about three to four carries and perhaps one reception before pulling him out of the game. Well, Williams did much more than that against the 49ers! He finished with three carries for 12 yards, and a respectable 4.0 yards per carry. However, Williams was used more in the passing game as an outlet receiver. On Saturday night, Williams caught four passes (on five targets) for 18 yards. His total touches were almost double what I thought he would get in his debut.

Other than the dropped pass on the first play of the game, Williams looked good. I don’t think he’s all the way back from the injury, but an 85 percent Williams is better than a lot of backs in this league. He’ll work in tandem with Samaje Perine this season to soften up opponents. As aforementioned, I think McLaughlin will have a package of plays as well. This gives the Broncos a great 1-2-3 punch, and that’s pretty rare in this game.

It’s great seeing Williams out there doing his thing for the Broncos again. Having Williams near full strength gives the Broncos an asset that most teams don’t have. The running back position isn’t what it used to be, but I believe that Williams’ game compares to that of Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb – who I consider the best in the game. The Broncos want to win by running the ball and playing great defense. Williams will be a big part of what they do and how far they go in 2023.

***

Pick Him Up!

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports veteran OT Jason Peters wants to continue playing football, and that’s the type of player I would make a move for. This Broncos offensive line has struggled in training camp and in the preseason. While Peters is 40 years old and would be playing his 20th season, I think he’s the exact type of player this team needs to consider if they want to push for the playoffs in 2023.

Undrafted out of Arkansas in 2004, Peters made the switch from tight end to offensive tackle with the Buffalo Bills. He became a starter for the Bills in his second season, played there for five years. After that, the Philadelphia Eagles made him one of the highest-paid tackles in the league where he played for 12 seasons and was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times. Peters played with the Chicago Bears in 2021 and the Dallas Cowboys in 2022.

Last year, Peters played inside at left guard for the Cowboys (10 games). However, when he played left tackle for the Bears in 2021, Peters ranked as the no.22 tackle in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. With his experience at left tackle, right tackle (early on in his Bills career), and at guard, Peters is the perfect addition to a roster that lacks depth.

I know some fans may want to get rid of starting LT Garett Bolles, and there are financial reasons to do that. However, I think you could add Peters without making a surprise cut like Bolles. If the Broncos are serious about making a run at the postseason, they need to ensure their offensive line has better starters or better depth – something a guy like Peters could give them.

***

We Ain’t Got No Ties

Sometimes things can be so bad they are good. That’s what I’ve always said about the movie “Showgirls.” I recognize it’s a terrible movie, but it’s so bad that it becomes an instant classic because of the depths it reaches are few can ever hope to get to – even on purpose! I find myself quoting this movie more than anyone ever should, but it’s because the dialogue, plot, and much of the acting is so campy it becomes funny.

Elizabeth Berkley, from “Saved By the Bell” fame, won the lead part of Nomi Malone. Several other big-name actresses auditioned for the role, including Angelina Jolie, Denise Richards, Pamela Anderson, and Jenny McCarthy (who nearly won the role). “Showgirls” is known as a controversial movie from 1995, mainly because it’s the only widely distributed NC-17 movie in cinematic history.

Even though it bombed at the box office, “Showgirls” earned a cult following in the home video market. In fact, I’m not the only one who thinks it crosses the spectrum over from being so bad it’s good – some critics consider the movie to be a serious satire. I was so fascinated with the character of Malone, that I always joked with friends of mine that I would write a sequel and call it “More Girls.” Alas, I’m too busy writing comic book scripts, animated features, and supernatural thrillers to take the time to ponder what happened to Malone after her adventures in Las Vegas concluded.

What’s a bad movie that’s actually so bad it’s good? Hit me up on social media and let me know!

***

Mile High Monday

Broncos QB Bo Nix...

Cecil Lammey

Bo Nix has a superpower that will get him on the field quickly

Why will the Broncos rookie quarterback be able to succeed in his first year? Because he has a talent that sets him apart from the competition

12 hours ago

Broncos QB Bo Nix...

Cecil Lammey

Unlike last year’s first-round QBs, Nix won’t struggle as a rookie

When it comes to throwing accurate passes, the Broncos first-round quarterback has a leg up on the top two picks of last year's draft

7 days ago

Sean Payton...

Cecil Lammey

The sky isn’t falling, but the Broncos have a lot of question marks

While the doomsday prognostications aren't accurate, neither are the thoughts that the Broncos are ready to be a contender just yet

15 days ago

David Shaw...

Cecil Lammey

David Shaw was a wise move, as Broncos continue to bolster staff

The Broncos brought in the former Stanford head coach to join the front office, adding another great football mind to the team's staff

21 days ago

Broncos RB Jaleel McLaughlin...

Cecil Lammey

The Broncos offense will need “out of nowhere” players in 2024

For the Broncos offense to improve this season, they'll need players who aren't yet household names to take their game to the next level

29 days ago

Courtland Sutton...

Cecil Lammey

Sutton developing chemistry with Nix is the big story of minicamp

After missing voluntary workouts so far this offseason, the veteran wideout returns for mandatory minicamp, needing to find a connection

1 month ago

The return of Javonte Williams was a smashing success