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(Graphic by K.J. Rigli/Bonneville Denver)
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Mile High Monday: What a difference a week makes for Broncos

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

The Broncos were embarrassed on Thursday night in Week 7 by the Chiefs. Instead of putting together another win, the Broncos couldn’t beat a Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs team at home.

I like when this team is good, although it’s been years since once could say that was the case. Going through a rebuild is a painful process, but it’s something I feel the Broncos have put off for far too long.

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ – even if it’s a little cold! The following is a result of those trips during the week.

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


Sanders on the Move

We’ve all been able to speculate that Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders would be on the trade block. While others are worried about who was credited as “breaking” this incredibly obvious story, I’m more interested in finding out where could Sanders go.

What are his most likely destinations? Here’s what I’m hearing from my sources around the league.

Everyone is speculating that the Patriots will make a run at the veteran receiver. Things didn’t work out for them with Antonio Brown and it’s not like Josh Gordon has been lighting up the stat sheet for Tom Brady and Company. Sanders still has plenty of game left and could step in, start and star for the Patriots from day one. That team is still in a Super Bowl window, and making a move for Sanders would greatly help their passing game.

The Eagles and 49ers are also two teams that could have interest. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman is addicted to trading and has no qualms about moving picks to add talent. The team is missing DeSean Jackson due to injury and they need some life injected into their passing attack. The 49ers and the Broncos are really close from a front office perspective. It’s not like the Broncos would give the 49ers a sweetheart deal, but they would be friendly with each other when it comes to negotiations.

A team that I’ve heard could also be interested is the Vikings. At the beginning of the calendar year, the Vikings hired Gary Kubiak as an offensive adviser. He is a close confidante to former Redskins coach (and Broncos legend) Mike Shanahan, and it was Shanahan who loved and drafted Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins years ago. Before free agency started in 2018, Sanders said he would “love” it if the Broncos added Cousins. Instead of adding Cousins, the Broncos signed Case Keenum and the rest is history. It would be interesting to see if Sanders would finally get to play with Cousins – and he’d be reunited with Kubiak.

Oh yeah, the Vikings lost their top receiver Adam Thielen to a hamstring injury on Sunday so the need at the position is there. Stay tuned, there’s a really good chance that Sanders does not play for the Broncos on Sunday as he could be dealt sometime this week.


Lock Watch

It’s funny how quickly things change in the NFL. A week ago, in this very column – in this very spot – I wrote about how the back-to-back wins for the Broncos meant that rookie quarterback Drew Lock may not be “designated to return” from the Injured Reserve List.

All bets are off now that the Broncos lost to the Chiefs in Week 7.

In fact, Lock will begin practicing this week for the Broncos. He’s fully recovered from the thumb injury that forced him onto the Injured Reserve List to start his rookie season. With Joe Flacco – and the entire team – struggling, the Broncos may go ahead and activate Lock in two weeks.

Lock has a big arm and can make every throw required in the NFL. The rookie also is known as a fiery leader who can rally his teammates around him. Lock has the athleticism to keep plays alive with his feet while keeping his eyes downfield, and he just seems to have that “athletic arrogance” that franchise quarterbacks possess.

They need to find out what they have in Lock, and they need to give him as much time as possible in order to do just that. If Lock can look good – even though losses and rough patches as a rookie – that’s a sign the team may just want to build around him and his strong arm.

However, if Lock struggles to perform at a high level and the team is losing games, it would put them in a better position to select a quarterback with a premium pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Broncos don’t want to win too many games if they’ll be in the quarterback market (again) next offseason.


Hall of Very Good

A favorite of mine for years, Matthew Stafford has unfortunately had to make his NFL career in the purgatory that is Detroit. The Lions have gone through several coaching staffs since Stafford was selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. These moves and the ineptitude of that franchise have held Stafford back from true greatness even though he’s a fine quarterback.

On Sunday, in a thrilling loss to the Vikings, Stafford became the fastest quarterback to reach 40,000 passing yards, topping Matt Ryan’s previous 151-game achievement in only 147 contests.

It would be nice to see him go elsewhere to get a realistic shot at a championship. Stafford still has the strong arm, high football intelligence and leadership qualities that you want in a franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, the team around him has never been that good – even during seasons where the Lions are winning and Stafford is putting up gargantuan numbers.

Stafford may just go down as a “Hall of Very Good” quarterback when his playing days are done. He’s been in the league for more than a decade and there’s zero signs that the Lions will ever contend for a championship for the rest of Stafford’s career.


Are You Excited?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love “Star Wars.” I have been a fan of “Star Wars” since the original trilogy and the first time I saw Chewbacca (and company) on the big screen. The music, the special effects, the characters and the science fiction spin on “The Hero’s Journey” have fascinated me my entire life.

On Monday night, the final trailer for the “Rise of Skywalker” will show during the Jets versus Patriots game. This is the end of the Skywalker saga, a journey that has spanned four decades and nine feature films. It’s going to be interesting to see how they finish up everything, especially since “The Last Jedi” was such a disappointment.

So, are you excited about the new “Star Wars” movie? Did “The Last Jedi” ruin the franchise for you or were you checked out after the prequel trilogy? Let me know your thoughts on social networking.