MILE HIGH MONDAY

It’s all about fit in the NFL, which is why Bo Nix will thrive in Denver

May 6, 2024, 6:04 AM

The Denver Broncos secured a franchise quarterback, and the work begins this week as rookie minicamp is scheduled to begin. At the end of the week, rookies will work out for three days at Centura Health Training Center.

I like when we get to see the rookies on the field for the first time. This class has some talented players, and these future Broncos could flash early – so, I most certainly will be there!

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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Smart and Accurate

Sean Payton knows what he wants in a quarterback, and there are many reasons why he chose Bo Nix to be the next passer tied to his legacy. This was an important decision for the future of the Broncos, but it also was paramount in telling the tale of Payton’s resume. He has one Super Bowl championship, and he returned to coaching last year to try and get another one. Now, he’s chosen Nix to be his guy to lead the way.

The conversation about Nix being a second-round talent is merely untrue. It’s one of the most inaccurate opinions being thrown out there in the sports media space after the draft. Nix has been considered a top-15 pick in both 2023 and 2024, and the Broncos did not reach to get him at No. 12 overall. Nix was considered as such because he’s smart and accurate – something that goes beyond the physical attributes most cling to in the pre-draft process. His arm is strong enough to make all the throws, and he’s more dangerous as a runner than some think, but Nix had the interest of guys like Payton and Los Angeles Rams’ HC Sean McVay because of he’s smart and accurate.

Payton must feel a sense of relief because he’s going to get to run his offense again. Nix is going to run the system as designed, but he’s also not a “yes man” or a “robot” as some misinformed commentors have said. Nix will improvise, but he’s going to quickly exhaust all options before he takes off to run. He will read the field and make easy throws look easy. When throws must be more difficult in crunch time (team is trailing at the end of the game), Nix has shown the ability to challenge a defense in ways some don’t give him credit for.

It’s all about fit in this league. Payton chose Nix because he’s a near-perfect fit for what he wants in a quarterback – and that’s because Nix is primarily smart and accurate.

***

Who is Kamara?

Not only was Payton looking for his next great quarterback, but he had to be looking for his next Alvin Kamara. For years, Kamara was a dangerous part of Payton’s New Orleans Saints offense. While Mark Ingram (and others) softened up defenses between the tackles, Kamara was a big-play weapon as a runner in space and a receiver out of the backfield. Kamara was one of Payton’s “jokers” with the Saints, and I thought RB Jaleel McLaughlin could be that guy in 2023 and beyond.

I loved the addition of Jaleel McLaughlin last year as an undrafted free agent. However, this year they might have added a better version in Memphis RB Blake Watson. While McLaughlin has speed and moves, Watson has that while being a better runner after contact. For as much as I appreciate McLaughlin’s game, he does lose his feet too easily upon contact. Watson can take a shoulder hit and keep his legs churning to break the tackle or bounce off contact – all while playing with a ton of speed.

Only two running backs in the FBS had 50-plus catches in 2023. One was Oregon RB Bucky Irving, and the other was Watson. With his speed and receiving ability, it’s clear to see what kind of vision Payton could have for the young runner. Since Payton is going to match his offense to what Nix does best, expect many passes out of the backfield to either McLaughlin or Watson. These short passes will serve as long handoffs for the team, and the speed of both backs will put defenders on edge when facing these concepts.

Let’s see how this competition shakes out in training camp. I think Javonte Williams and rookie Audric Estime will be the first and second-down options for the Broncos. On passing downs, the Broncos need more electricity from the running back position and that’s where McLaughlin or Watson (or both) come into play.

***

He Can Run

There are many misconceptions about Nix. I’ve gone over some of those already in this article, but I want to emphasize how much his legs can be an asset for this offense. Sure, Nix is not the runner that Jayden Daniels is (not many are in the NFL outisde of Lamar Jackson), but he’s not a statue in the pocket either. He got the nickname “RPO Bo” in college because of how much the team used run-pass options to attack defenses. They can’t do that if Nix is not a threat to keep the ball and run.

Just watch the film from his days at Oregon, and you can see how much Nix can be a threat as a runner. He’s smart and accurate as a passer, and Nix makes quick decisions as a passer. However, he needs credit for making quick decisions – period. Nix will read the defense before the snap, after the snap, and he’ll decide consistently in around 2.5 seconds. He won’t hang onto the ball too long (like Russell Wilson did ad nauseam), and sometimes the decision Nix will make will be attacking with his legs as a rusher.

Payton is going to craft an offense that plays to the strengths of the rookie quarterback – and that will include RPOs and designed quarterback runs. I’m excited to see this new wrinkle in Payton’s offense. There will be screen passes, slant routes, and sail concepts of couse. However, now Payton has a quarterback that forces a defense to play true 11-on-11 football because he can run. I’m sure Payton is excited to add these wrinkles into his system.

I don’t want Nix running the ball too much, and I’m sure he won’t do that. Payton will draw up plays to dink-and-dunk down the field with a few deep shots mixed in. To throw off a defense, Nix will have the freedom to run the ball himself when needed.

***

It’s a Hit!

I love being creative. That’s both as a football analyst and talk show host, but it’s also as a comic book writer. I grew up wanting to be a comic book artist, but I gave up on my dream too soon. Now, with the advent of crowdfunding, I can get my stories out to the public in the form of comic books. Since I don’t have time to draw anymore (with two jobs as a football analyst), I get to scratch that creative itch as a writer – and I love it!

I had a great time on Saturday at Hall of Justice in Parker! It was Free Comic Book Day and it was also the annual Star Wars celebration of May the Fourth Be With You, and I was at the shop as a featured comic book artist. I was there to promote my independent comic book company, Smokin Gun Comics, and I talked to hundreds of fans about my comics that I’m also trying to get made into movies and TV shows.

The story of “The Familiars” seems to resonate with people. I just had the books printed less than a month ago for the All C’s Collectors Showcase in early April, and it was my most popular book on Saturday. The story is Harry Potter meets Fox and the Hound, and people certainly love their pets. The comic revolves around a young pup named ZZ who feels more at home with the cats. The problem? He’s supposed to be a hunter for the government while the cats are the familiars (protectors) of the witches who live near Ft. Salem. This concept of “being yourself” no matter what society says strikes a chord with old and young fans alike. I’m happy to see the success of this book so far, and I look forward to trying to make it an animated feature on the big screen!

Do you have a story of proving people wrong? Hit me up on social media and let me know!

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