MILE HIGH MONDAY

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

Jun 17, 2024, 6:12 AM | Updated: 6:16 am

The Denver Broncos are on a break. They’ll get back to work when training camp opens in about five weeks. Until then, it’s time to get away and enjoy the break.

I like this little bit of time off. Covering the NFL is a 12-month-a-year job, seven days a week. While the Broncos are off, I’m able to travel the country and clear my head before they start again.

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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Out of Nowhere

The Broncos lost some talent from last year, so they’ll need new players to step up in their place. In addition to replacing guys like safety Justin Simmons on defense, or quarterback Russell Wilson on offense, the Broncos need skill position players to elevate their game this year. The defense should be better this year, but the offense is a huge question mark because of the change at quarterback.

There are a few players who could be categorized as coming from “out of nowhere” for the offense this season. Broncos Country knows about running back Jaleel McLaughlin, but the rest of the NFL may not realize what the Broncos have in the second-year runner. With Javonte Williams not quite looking like his former self this offseason, McLaughlin was dazzling on the practice field. He needs the pads to come on and prove himself in pass protection. If he does that, McLaughlin might end up being the lead back for the Broncos.

Another player with huge upside without a household name is tight end Lucas Krull. If you’ve read my work before or watched “Orange and Blue Today” with myself and Andrew Mason, then you know who Krull is. Krull is a huge target who was the biggest playmaker for the Broncos this entire offseason. I watched five open practices, and Krull made the most plays each day the media was in attendance. He can take his size and playmaking ability to the next level this year as the team’s starter at the position. Even if Greg Dulcich is healthy (a big if), Krull just looks to be the better option because he can block in addition to being a receiving threat.

For the Broncos to win eight games, these players (and others) will have to stay healthy and outperform expectations. McLaughlin and Krull will be two fan favorites in training camp, and they could wind up being darlings in the fantasy football world too if they “come out of nowhere” for the national audience.

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Better Up Front

The Broncos had a top-10 offensive line last year. The ranked No. 3 in run-block win rate, while they ranked No. 8 in pass-block win rate. It’s an old take, and wildly inaccurate, to say the Broncos have offensive line problems. Other than finding which center takes over for Lloyd Cushenberry (it looks like Luke Wattenberg), this line is rock solid – and only getting better.

We could see a breakout year for right guard Quinn Meinerz in 2024. He’s one of the best young players on this team. Meinerz is a player we have yet to see the best from. With Zach Strief coaching the offensive line, Meinerz really took to the tips from the former pro, and he implemented what he’d learned on the football field. The progress led Meinerz to having a Pro Bowl (alternate) season. I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg with him.

Ask Las Vegas Raiders All-Pro defensive end Maxx Crosby. I can’t share the audio or video here (due to a ton of profanity) but check out Crosby’s comments on Meinerz. If he’s getting a guy like Crosby fired up, then you know Meinerz is on the right track. I think that comes from the guidance of Strief. In his second year coaching this line, Strief should get even better production from his guys this season.

So long as they’re healthy, the Broncos could have a better offensive line in 2024. Could they push to be a top-five unit? If guys like Meinerz flourish, then the answer could easily be yes.

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Camp Stiddy

We now know Jarrett Stidham is going to get together with the skill position players in Texas for private workouts. Dubbed “Camp Stiddy” by many in the media, this is a common practice for quarterbacks in the NFL. It’s an interesting bit of news though because the Broncos have 2024 first-round pick Bo Nix as their future quarterback. Nix is going to be in attendance, but Stidham is the one organizing the get together.

At this time, Stidham may be in the driver’s seat for the starting job. He was the steadiest during OTAs and minicamp, but I believe Nix has the higher upside. Stidham looks better in year two under HC Sean Payton, but I believe there’s a ceiling on his game that Nix doesn’t have.

I like the idea of Nix beginning the season as the starter, but Payton is not going to hand him the job. There’s a chance Stidham could be the Week 1 starter, and that’s not “disaster” for Nix. In fact, Stidham is only going to make Nix better – and that may come from showing him how to operate as a starter. All roads lead to Nix, and so long as he starts 12 games this year, I won’t object to Stidham getting a few starts at the beginning of the season.

Stidham won’t start for the entire season, but he could play well enough that Payton decides to keep him around as the primary backup to Nix for years to come. Part of that equation is how Stidham is willing to guide the young passer set to eventually take his job.

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Another Director’s Cut

I was surprised to see a trending topic over the weekend. The hashtag #ReleaseTheSchumacherCut grabbed my attention, because I had no idea that Joel Schumacher had a different cut of the movie “Batman Forever.” Apparently, Warner Bros has a copy of the movie in their archives, and some people have seen it. This got Batman fans (such as me) excited to see another version of a movie that has a cult following.

It may be an unpopular opinion, but I liked “Batman Forever.” Yes, it wasn’t as good as 1989’s “Batman” by Tim Burton. However, I liked what Schumacher did with Val Kilmer playing Bruce Wayne. He tried to examine the character of Wayne, and why he chose to work as a vigilante in Gotham City.

This director’s cut seems to be much darker and more of a character-driven movie rather than the goofy/action/thrills we got in the theatrical version. Schumacher did get some analysis of Wayne’s character, but too often the movie went off the rails as it echoed the silliness that Batman used to be (1966) with Adam West playing the Caped Crusader. It wasn’t a great balance, but perhaps this cut of the film would be better.

Would you be excited for a Schumacher cut of this movie? Hit me up on social media and let me know!

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