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(Graphic by K.J. Rigli/Bonneville Denver)
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Mile High Monday: Flacco comparisons, Browns falter, 20th anniversary

(Graphic by K.J. Rigli/Bonneville Denver)

The Broncos are playing their first game of the 2019 regular season on Monday night against the Raiders. With the Chiefs and Chargers winning on Sunday, the Broncos need to win in Week 1 or else they will immediately be at the bottom of the AFC West.

I like that regular season football is back. There’s nothing better for a football fan than watching NFL Redzone Channel and eight hours of commercial-free football. The notes were scribbled furiously and the cold pops were flowing for me yesterday. I still see reasons why I love this game every Sunday, and I like we won’t have a Sunday without football until next February.

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ. The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.


Do Not Compare Flacco to Jackson

The Ravens moved on from Joe Flacco. They did so last year after Flacco was hurt and 2018 first-round pick Lamar Jackson took over. Last year as a rookie, Jackson struggled to throw the ball, but the Ravens revamped their offense to fit his incredibly athleticism and rushing style.

On Sunday against the Dolphins, Jackson showed that he has made improvements as a passer. The Ravens stomped the Dolphins 59-10 and Jackson went 17-of-20 for 324 yards and five passing touchdowns in the contest. He was nearly perfect as a passer and left the game early due to the huge lead.

Football fans should not compare what the Ravens are doing to what Flacco is set to do with the Broncos. Jackson was incredible as a passer on Sunday (and rookie WR Marquise Brown looks like a superstar), but he’s a different quarterback and the team will have a different plan for him each week.

They were able to curb stomp the Dolphins because that team is tanking and 31 of the 53-man roster has changed from last season. The Ravens are unlikely to score 59 points in any of the 15 regular season games left this year.

Jackson is unlikely to throw for five touchdowns in any of those games either. I’m not putting the Ravens down, I’m just stating a fact that they were up against an opponent that has given up before the season even started.

Flacco is unlikely to throw for five touchdowns in a single game this season. That doesn’t mean the Ravens were right, however. Let’s look at the team records at the end of the year, it just means that Baltimore is running a different scheme from Denver. Rather than compare Flacco to what the Ravens are doing, I would rather just compare him to what other quarterbacks have done in this system – primarily Flacco himself back in 2014. I believe that is much more fair and accurate.


Is Case Keenum Better?

While it’s incorrect to compare Flacco to Jackson, perhaps it’s not bad to keep an eye on what Case Keenum is doing this year. The Broncos got rid of the veteran journeyman earlier this year after they traded for Flacco, and Keenum won the starting job for the Redskins in training camp.

Washington lost their season opener against the Eagles, but Keenum played at a high level in Week 1. Keenum finished the game going 30-of-44 for 380 passing yards with three touchdowns. He never threw for 380 or more yards during his one season starting for the Broncos, and in fact that total was a career high for Keenum.

He did get off to a hot start last year for the Broncos (329 yards), so perhaps things fall apart for him in Washington like they did in Denver. Keenum is trying to hold off rookie first-round pick Dwayne Hasksins while at the same time head coach Jay Gruden is trying to save his job. It seems likely that Keenum will be replaced at some point this year unless the team can win more than most are expecting in 2019.

If Keenum is lighting up the stat sheet and Flacco is not, that is an interesting talking point. However, it’s all about wins in the NFL. Keenum set a career-high in passing yards on Sunday, yet his team still lost. If he throws for more yards than Flacco, but Denver is winning, then the stat argument will be moot.

I do not think there will be any sort of “seller’s remorse” for the Broncos this year with Keenum. He can do his thing in Washington, write another book if he wants to, the Broncos just have to take care of business on their end and it doesn’t matter what their former quarterback is doing with his new team.


Cleveland Doesn’t Rock

The hype around the Browns has been off the charts this offseason. It’s cool to a certain point because Browns fans have been tormented with an embarrassing football team for years. Ever since the NFL violated the “Walking Dead” rule (don’t bring something back from the dead) in 1999, the (then) new Browns have been one of the worst teams in the league.

The Browns were once again embarrassed in the season opener by the Titans. After scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, the Browns ended up losing to the Titans by a score of 43-13. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised as the Browns haven’t won a season opener in 16 years, but given the way Cleveland was hyped as a potential Super Bowl contender, it was incredibly disappointing.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, is now one of the faces of the NFL. He’s doing national commercials and is the spokesperson on more than one campaign. Mayfield is not distracted by these commercials and increase in attention, but people will start thinking that if this Browns team doesn’t at least make the postseason.

The Browns were getting booed by their home crowd in the third quarter and the pressure is more than this team has ever been used to. Mayfield threw three interceptions against the Titans and got banged up. He’ll need to stay healthy and play up to his potential in order to quiet the doubters who have now come out of the woodwork.

Things change quickly in the NFL, and the Browns went from a sexy Super Bowl pick to thought of as a team in trouble literally in the first week of the season. I’ll never count Mayfield out, and it will be interesting to see if this team can get on the track that most thought they’d be on – even if they’re not truly ready for that level of expectation.


Still Dreaming

On Monday, it will be the 20th anniversary of the Sega Dreamcast, my favorite console of all-time. I still remember waiting in line to get the Dreamcast from a video game store in Denver on the memorable launch date of 9.9.99. The Dreamcast came out over a year before the Playstation 2, and it was groundbreaking for the time.

While it didn’t play DVDs (remember those) like the PS2, the Dreamcast was the first console on the internet. It came with an ethernet port out of the box and helped introduce thousands of gamers to playing online. Now, playing online is what every gamer does, leaving solo missions as a thing of the past. The Dreamcast was well ahead of its time.

The Dreamcast only lasted three years on the market before Sega pulled the plug. They got out of the hardware business and have not made another console since then.

The console has been dead since 2001, but there are still new games coming out for the system due to the demand from retro gamers such as myself. Every year since 2001 except one, there have been studio releases for the Dreamcast – and some years there may be as many as seven or eight games released in a calendar year.

On a recent trip to New York City, I picked up one of the newest games for the Dreamcast.

It is great to see new games for this system. They are not officially sanctioned by Sega, but the company doesn’t care. Independent developers are making new games or porting old games over to the Dreamcast and pressing the games in a factory with an official release for retro gamers.

I love the fact that 20 years after the release of the Dreamcast, it’s the only “zombie console” that is still getting new titles for fans to enjoy!