Three months ago, Courtland Sutton talked about fighting for the No. 1 receiver role in the Broncos offense. Yesterday, he was just fighting.
We don’t know exactly what started the brawl between Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders, but we do know per The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala that Sanders “was pissed… and argued that Sutton and others hadn’t proven themselves in the league yet.”
I don’t know how it started between Sanders and Sutton and I’m not going to relay the full exchange of what was said, but Sanders was pissed because he was “trying to get them right” and argued that Sutton and others haven’t proven themselves in the league yet.
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 5, 2019
You can question whether Sanders’ leadership strategy was the right one in that moment, but you can’t really question the validity of his point. Sutton hasn’t proven anything so far. And if he doesn’t, he may not be a part of the Broncos’ future plans.
Sutton, a second-round pick in 2018, has the measurable traits that NFL scouts drooled over. After his selection at No. 40 overall last year, national writers called him the steal of the draft. He was thrust into the spotlight 12 games into his career after Sanders injured his Achilles tendon. Then this offseason, Reggie Wayne called Sutton “the future of the Broncos” and “the future of the NFL’s next set of receivers.”
Expectations don’t get much higher than that.
It would be great for the Broncos if he had lived up to those expectations, but it’s clear that he hasn’t. Sutton caught 42 balls for 704 yards and four touchdowns last year – good, but not great. Instead of taking a step forward in camp this year, he’s taken a giant leap backwards. Dropped passes, lazy routes and fistfights aren’t exactly the progress we all hoped for. In that same time, guys like Juwan Winfree and Trinity Benson have stood out, making plays day after day to impress the fans and their new coaching staff.
Second-round pick or not, the coaches that brought Sutton to UCHealth Training Center aren’t in the building anymore. Rich Scangarello and Vic Fangio are in charge, and the wideout’s first impressions have been far from stellar. Frankly, he’s stood out for all the wrong reasons.
If the fight was the only issue, this wouldn’t even be a conversation. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Sutton’s dropped more passes than I can count – not the best way to earn the trust of your new starting quarterback. This time last year, he was dominating Broncos corners and taking extra reps over his teammates. Now when he’s not putting the ball on the turf, he’s standing on the sidelines getting lost in the shuffle.
It’s too early to give up hope on the young wideout, but so far what we’ve seen this year has been more bust than breakout.
Can Sutton make yesterday’s brawl a turning point? He needs to do so.
If all goes well, we’ll be talking about the dynamic duo of SMU receivers on either side of Joe Flacco come Week 1. If not, the Broncos will find another guy to step in and do the job, leaving all those lofty expectations unfulfilled.
Courtland Sutton put up his fists, now it’s time for him to put up or shut up. For his sake, and the sake of the Broncos, I hope he’s ready for the fight.