MILE HIGH MONDAY

Playoffs thus far showed the Broncos weren’t ready to compete yet

Jan 15, 2024, 6:36 PM

The Denver Broncos are not in the postseason, and that may have been a good thing based on what we saw over the weekend. At one point, the Broncos were the hottest team in the league, but they would have backed into the postseason the way things were headed. Doing that could have led to a Wild Card blowout like we saw on Saturday from some teams.

I like when the Broncos make the postseason, but it’s been far too long. The next time they’re in the tournament, I want them to be able to make some noise!

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.

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Pressure is the Key

Quarterbacks in today’s NFL – especially in the postseason – need to perform under pressure. Defenders are very good, and defensive coordinators know how to bring pressure early and often. Quarterbacks are used to seeing exotic blitzes, and the best know how to attack in response. That usually comes in hot reads and understanding where defenses are creating weakness by taking chances.

Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff is never a player that fans or analysts will call great, but he was great in the Wild Card Round. He led his team to their first playoff win since 1991 on Sunday when the Lions edged out the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 24-23. Goff was able to do that by being perfect (21-for-21) when not under pressure.

A lot has been made about the Broncos’ offensive line, but advanced data and film study show they’re a better unit than some fans give them credit for. I believe most of the O-Line will come back in 2024 intact, but there might be a change at the center position if Lloyd Cushenberry moves on in free agency and Alex Forsyth takes over for him. No matter the construct of the line, the Broncos need to continue improving the pass protection in Denver.

No matter who is under center for the Broncos, they need to play on time and on rhythm in the Sean Payton offense. It’s great to make plays under pressure, but when there is no duress, a quarterback needs to be as flawless as possible. That’s what Goff was on Sunday, and his play was a big reason why the Lions are advancing to the Divisional Round.

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Learn From Love

I remember watching Jordan Love during the week of practice for the 2020 Senior Bowl, and his raw ability was evident. I liked him on film at Utah State, and I had a first-round grade on the young passer, but I wanted to see him play against some of the best in college football – and that’s what happened (as it does every year) in Mobile.

What’s interesting about that year was Love was in attendance with guys like Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts. During the week of practice, Love showed his natural tools in terms of the physical gifts he has (arm strength, mobility). However, he did not look as good as Herbert did when it came to pass placement and leading receivers properly. Love also did not look as good as Hurts when it came to reading the full field in passing drills. Simply put, Love looked raw and any team that selected him would need to be patient.

The Green Bay Packers selected Love in the first round that year even though superstar Aaron Rodgers was still their starter. The team developed Rodgers years ago for a few seasons behind Brett Favre, and now they were going to do the same with Love. With Rodgers (finally) moving on in 2023, the Packers knew it was time for Love to play up to his potential after waiting for his turn. As 2023 progressed, Love improved and looked better with more experience. That patience culminated in a playoff appearance – and a playoff win in the Wild Card Round – for the Packers.

If the Broncos select a quarterback in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft, there is a path where patience can be rewarded. I like the idea of getting a quarterback experience as soon as possible, but it all comes down to whether the player is ready for that as a rookie. Love was not, but the Packers’ patience has now been rewarded.

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GMs Can Show Emotion

An NFL general manager is usually seen as an executive who rarely displays any sort of emotion when his team wins or loses. Broncos GM George Paton is incredibly knowledgeable about the scouting process, but he’s a bit reserved when it comes to his personality. He’s working with a head coach that shows a ton of emotion in Payton, so Paton is likely a good counterbalance.

Lions GM Brad Holmes is different, and he’s working with a Payton discipline in HC Dan Campbell. Holmes is a long-time scout with a reputation for having opinions that don’t follow the pack. Many times, in the scouting community there can be too much “group think” amongst those making roster-building decisions. That’s not the case with Holmes. He stands out with his eye for talent and how he can make moves that surprise some in the NFL.

Holmes also stands out because he gets emotional about this game. Working his way up from being a road scout with the St. Louis Rams in 2003 to now being an outstanding general manager, Holmes has shown a great work ethic and a great amount of fun when it comes to the process. Building a team is hard. Building a winning team is even harder. It’s okay to show emotion when your guys pay off on the football field, like Holmes’ roster did in their Wild Card win over the Rams.

Paton is continuing as the Broncos’ GM, and they need him to crush the draft process. If they can have a strong class of rookies, perhaps led by a potential superstar quarterback, the Broncos can get back to competing for the playoffs faster. If they have a great draft, I wouldn’t mind seeing Paton with a bit more emotion in the post-draft presser. He doesn’t have to go wild, but I’d like Paton to celebrate the wins on draft day. The opportunity is there for him to make the Broncos a contender faster than most think.

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Street Level Thanos

The Amazing Spider-man is one of my favorite comics of all time. Peter Parker is a great character, but what really makes a superhero a memorable character can be his rogues gallery of villains. Marvel does not have many great villains, and I believe that’s why the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been struggling since Thanos was defeated in “Avengers: Endgame” years ago.

I won’t give anything away, but the latest Marvel show on Disney+ is “Echo” and it’s better than some admit – mostly because of The Kingpin. He debuted in the pages of Amazing Spider-man in 1967 (issue no.50), and we’ve gotten to see him in the “Daredevil” series on Netflix but not yet on the big screen. Now, Kingpin is a major part of the “Echo” series and fans are getting set up for something that should be coming to movie theaters in the future.

The Kingpin can be the street-level Thanos in the MCU. Actor Vincent D’Onofrio is one of the best in the business, and his range of emotions in the character come through loud and clear. While fans seem to be sick of multiverse storylines that can be confusing, having a crime boss like Kingpin against superheroes like Echo, Daredevil, and Spider-man would be cool to see on the silver screen. The MCU hasn’t done much right in recent years, but “Echo” is a series fans should watch and give a chance. My only complaint about the show is that it seems to be a bit short. I’d like to see more, but I’m glad I got to see more Kingpin on TV.

Did you watch “Echo” and if so, what did you think? Hit me up on social networking and let me know!

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Follow Cecil Lammey on Twitter and Instagram: @cecillammey

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