10 Dec 18
The Denver Post
Denver Post sports columnist Mark Kiszla answered questions about all things Colorado sports during a Monday live chat. Here are the highlights:
I know mathematically the Broncos still have a chance at the playoffs, but realistically Kiz, do these guys have a shot still?
Kiszla: Let’s get this out of the way. Broncos have no shot. As I’ve been saying, even after the understandable understandable euphoria following victories against the Chargers and Steelers, it’s extremely hard for any NFL team, whether it’s QB is Tom Brady or Case Keenum, to win seven consecutive games. Vance Joseph is telling his players to win out and hope for some help. Here’s the vibe I got in the locker room following the loss to San Francisco: While there’s professional pride, the Broncos also knew their talent base is too thin after the injuries to Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Harris Jr. Could Denver go 3-0 down the stretch to finish 9-7 and put pressure of Baltimore and other teams seeking the final AFC playoff berth? Yep, it’s possible. I’d give that about a 20 percent chance of happening. But could the Broncos also go 1-2 and finish 7-9? Yes, I’d give that about a 40 percent chance of happening. And PS: Watch out for Tennessee; that’s a team that could yet finish 10-6.
Is VJ smart enough to figure out his “guy upstairs” watching the TV replays is incompetent? Maybe the “guy upstairs” has good practices, but it clear he doesn’t know what he’s doing during games. Hopefully realizing his job depends on it, do you think VJ will replace the “guy upstairs?”
Kiszla: Vance Joseph has had a great year in coaxing six victories from the bang-up Broncos … if you listen to his apologists. But he doesn’t think two plays ahead, is slow to make adjustments, his game plan against San Fran tight end George Kittle was head-scratching bad … and his challenges have been misguided. Hoping to overturn a completed pass by the Niners, Joseph and his “guy upstairs” applied the catch rule of 2017 rather than the catch rule of 2018. It’s not easy to determine what’s a catch. But it is the job of Joseph and his “guy upstairs” to know the rules. A year behind on the rules? That’s just another example of Joseph being slow to adjust.
Do you have any theories on why the Broncos’ offense doesn’t get more out of its players? Musgrave had decent runs in Oakland and Minnesota and seemed to make better use of the players he had on those teams than what we are seeing in Denver.
Kiszla: Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave certainly deserves his fair share of criticism. The Niners entered Sunday surrendering 28 points per game, ranking them among the worst defenses in the league. And here is what Denver did in the first half: 65 total yards, 7 first downs and zero points. Yes, I know the offense was aching with injury. But that performance was inexcusable. By Musgrave. And by quarterback Case Keenum, who clearly doesn’t have the right stuff to life up an offense on his shoulders. That’s why I focused more in my column on Keenum than Niners tight end George Kittle, who caught 7 passes for 210 yards before halftime. If Denver could’ve stayed on the field, Kittle wouldn’t had so many chances to shine. One side note: In the 2017 NFL draft, the Broncos selected Butt with the first pick of the fifth round, declaring him to be a first-round talent. One pick later, the Niners grabbed Kittle. Oops. Stuff happens.
Swaggy P to the Nuggets? Do you think Nick Young has much left in his tank to help this Denver squad out?
Kiszla: Injuries have put the Nuggets in crisis mode. It’s a lot to ask for this team to win consistently with three starters — Will Barton, Gary Harris and Paul Millsap — shelved by injury for a significant period of time. Nick Young is a nut. He’s also a pretty fair scorer. Swaggy P would not be in Denver if the situation wasn’t desperate.The Nuggets need him to average at least 12 points per game through January first. Shoot your shot, Swaggy P.
I really thought the Broncos were going to go 10-6. Their schedule looked too easy, and then the final Chargers game had a huge potential to be meaningless for the Chargers. Now that the 49ers loss has me crashing back down to Earth, I am back on the fire VJ train. Do you think Vance Joseph gets fired as soon as he loses one more, or will Elway wait until the end of the season? If John Harbaugh is available, do you think he is the best coach for the Broncos?
Kiszla: I never thought for one second the Broncos would finish 10-6. (Proof: I predicted the 2-10 Niners would beat Denver in you Sunday editions of The Post.) Call me a pessimist if you want, but I prefer the term realist.Vance Joseph has improved as a coach. But he’s not what a franchise with a winning tradition needs. The coach of the Broncos should not require assembly or training wheels. I am near-certain there were folks in the team’s building that were worried the Broncos would find a way to sneak into the playoffs and it would be impossible to fire Joseph. I think he’s gone at 8-8 or worse. And not sure even 9-7 will save him. We shall see. The Broncos could do worse than John Harbaugh, should he part ways with Baltimore.
Hi Kiz, I’m probably beating a dead horse, but what do you think is the reason that this team has absolutely no fire to begin a key game, yet look spectacular in others? It just blows me away…
Kiszla: In San Francisco, I think these banged-up group of Broncos wanted to believe, but knew deep down this group had made a run about as long as it physically could with an injury-depleted lineup. But I’m bigger on talent and plan than motivation at the pro sports level. The game plans on both sides of the football were atrocious against the NIners. That’s another reason why I believe John Elway needs to replace and revamp his coaching staff.
I’m thinking Emmanuel Sanders may be done for the Broncos — they won’t know if he’s fully recovered from injury until after free agency is in full swing. They may cut him to add more money to their free agency pool, which I’m thinking may be larger than in past years. Add in Shane Ray, and maybe they can sign a quality CB and OL, or maybe a TE. Your thoughts?
Kiszla: I would be surprised if Emmanuel Sanders ever catches another pass for the Broncos. And that makes me sad, to be honest. But the NFL is a cruel biz. To your point: I firmly believe all NFL teams should draft for talent (best player available regardless of position) with each and every pick, from the first round through the last. Free agency money is meant to identify and fill needs.
You and I agree that VJ has shown little growth or aptitude for his job. What do you believe is the realistic chance that Elway replaces him?
Kiszla: I can’t get inside John Elway’s head … although I did ride an elevator with him as we were both leaving a San Jose hotel for dinner on Saturday night. We had brief chit-chat. And that’s as close as I got to his mindset prior to the bad loss against San Francisco. So this is nothing but a guess: If Elway has a brain in his head, I think it’s 100 percent he fires Joseph. Of course, I also believed Elway needed to part ways with Joseph after the 2017 season … yet here were nearly a year later, stuck together in an elevator going down.
Ok, so I’m so over the Bunkos until some people are fired and we find a QB. Kiz, who do you think the Rockies may be chasing in the winter meetings?
Kiszla: Would’ve Paul Goldschmidt looked good at first base for Colorado, or what? OK, I’m dreaming. But Arizona is dismantling. And outfielder A.J. Pollock, although oft-injured, has been a Rockies killer through the years. Is he worth 5 years and $80 million in free agency? Maybe not. OK, probably not. But I think the Rockies need to go for it in 2019, with the long-term future of Nolan Arenado uncertain.
I’m feeling pretty good about CU’s new FB HC. Now that the dust has settled a little bit after the announcement, any other thoughts that you may have had regarding the selection?
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Kiszla: My initial impression of new Buffs head coach Mel Tucker?
He’s a no-nonsense guy.
Practices are going to be intense.
And Tucker will demand more physicality from the Buffs.
Mike MacIntyre? Nice guy. Desired a little too much to be liked.
So, if nothing else, the vibe will change around the CU team.
You’re an avid skier: Is Winter Park the top resort in North America, as USA Today says?
Kiszla: I am an avid skier. It’s why I live in Colorado. Winter Park is my home hill. So I am biased, especially in terms of those lovely bumps over on the Jane side. But the USA Today story was the result of a popular vote, not careful analysis. Winter Park is underrated, compared to the more famous resorts in our fair state. But is it the best in North America? Not in my book. I care more about the mountain and its terrain than the apres ski scene. So some of my top hills in North America (in no particularly order) are: Alta, Revelstoke, Jackson Hole, Whistler and Snowmass.
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