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DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 22: Denver Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio watches warm-ups prior to a regular season game between the Denver Broncos and the visiting Detroit Lions on December 22, 2019 at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, CO. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Mile High Monday: The pressure is on the Broncos coaches in 2020

(Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NFL is nearing the July break where the news cycle goes cold. It’s that time of year where I myself take a little bit of a break and try to get away to reset before the grind of the regular season starts. I work three jobs and don’t get one day off from the end of July to the day after the Super Bowl. It’s a schedule I’ve become used to, and I have my dream job, so it doesn’t seem like work. However, this break for me in July is much needed.

I like gearing up for vacation – even if it’s mostly going to be a staycation for me this year. I’ll drive around in my Shelby for the first time this year. I plan on seeing family and friends along the way, so I’m super excited to hit the road. Because of my three-week vacation, I will be taking time off from “Mile High Monday.” We’ll have it in great hands here at The Fan, and I’ll be back to write about more of my thoughts in late July.

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.


Sounds About Right

Last week Pro Football Focus released their rankings for every roster in the NFL. This is a different ranking than what you usually get from sites across the internet. Instead of ranking a position group, PFF chose the tough task of ranking all the players on the projected 53-man roster. I usually don’t like lists (or list radio), but I thought this was fascinating and a great exercise to see where teams rank in terms of star power and depth.

The Ravens were the No. 1 team in this ranking and the Jaguars were the No. 32 team. PFF had the Broncos listed as the No. 14 team in the NFL when it comes to the entirety of the roster.

I agree the Broncos are a top half of the NFL team in terms of talent on the roster. They have drafted well over the last three years and that’s what has given them quality depth in addition to star power across the depth chart. The Broncos have not fared as well in free agency, but if guys stay healthy (Ja’Wuan James, Bryce Callahan, etc.), then they’ll look much better in that department in 2020.

Not only did I agree with where the Broncos were ranked, but I also now believe the pressure is on the coaching staff more than ever. The Broncos are not a team who lacks talent and would be lucky to make the playoffs. They are a talented team that has several players on the rise like Courtland Sutton, Justin Simmons, Drew Lock, etc. This means the coaching staff has to do their best to ensure the team makes the postseason – especially with an expanded playoff format in 2020.


Healthy Now, but For How Long?

The Broncos went out in free agency last year and gave veteran cornerback Bryce Callahan a lucrative contract. He initially signed a three-year, $21 million deal with $10 million guaranteed in 2019. Callahan then missed the entire 2019 season for the Broncos due to a broken screw in his foot from a previous surgery.

He did choose to restructure his deal earlier this offseason to help guarantee that he would make the final roster in 2020. The restructure freed up $1.8 million in cap space this year. Callahan is now due $5 million in 2020 and can make another $2 million in playtime incentives. That’s a better price tag for Callahan – provided he can stay healthy and actually play for the team this year.

Last week, multiple videos surfaced of Callahan working out and showcasing how far along he is in his recovery. In fact, reports are now claiming that the veteran corner is 100 percent healthy.

He’s healthy now, but how long can he stay that way? Callahan is talented, very talented, and I could easily make the argument that he’s the best slot corner in the league – when healthy. He’s never played a full 16-game season during his pro career and is coming off a completely missed season in 2019.

If Callahan can play at least 10-12 games this year (hopefully more), it would be a huge boost for a Broncos defense that has question marks. The cornerback position is filled with question marks entering this season. Callahan needs to stay healthy, A.J. Bouye needs a bounce-back season after a poor performance for the Jaguars last year and rookie Michael Ojemudia needs to prove that he can make an immediate impact as a pro.

Let’s hope the Broncos can get some return on their sizable investment in Callahan.


More Turnovers Please

The Broncos defense didn’t generate enough turnovers in 2019 under first-year head coach and long-time defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. It’s unusual to think that was the case based on what we know about a swarming Fangio defense and the high expectations there were entering last season with key players still in place.

This system is known for zone pressure and making quarterbacks uncomfortable. That has historically led to an increased number of turnovers for any defense coached by Fangio. In his final season with the Bears, Fangio’s defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL with a whopping 36 turnovers. In his first year with the Broncos, Fangio’s defense really fell short in that department.

My protégé, Luke Patterson from Mile High Huddle, tweeted out the numbers that highlight where the Broncos defense was deficient in 2019.

So, what can they do to improve that number in 2020 – and furthermore, can they really double their turnovers from last year?

The answer is difficult, but I believe that a healthy Bradley Chubb will make a world of difference. An improved pass rush will make opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable and they will rush throws because of it. More pressure means the secondary won’t have to cover as long and they may be able to jump routes to get interceptions. Last year, only one cornerback (Chris Harris Jr.) got an interception for the Broncos defense and that simply can’t be the case this season.

Not only Chubb’s return, but the addition of defensive lineman Jurrell Casey is going to help as well for a similar reason. Quarterbacks get rid of the ball too fast for edge rushers to get home like they used to. Now, defenses must create internal pressure to wreak havoc. This is where Casey comes in. He’s an upgrade over what the Broncos had last year at the position and could push for 10.0 sacks in 2020.

I highly doubt the Broncos defense reaches 30 turnovers this year, but they can easily be better in that department than they were last season.


Spoiler Alert!

Last week, we learned more about what is going to be in the Snyder Cut of Justice League on HBO Max. As a fan of DC Comics, I was initially excited then incredibly disappointed by the Justice League movie that was released in 2017.

For those who don’t know, the Snyder Cut is an extended version of the Justice League movie that we didn’t get to see on the big screen. Director Zack Snyder had personal problems and was replaced on the movie by Warner Bros. Instead of seeing his original vision, former Marvel director Joss Whedon. What we got was an amalgam of two movies with no direction, no vision and it was simply no good.

Now, Snyder is getting over $20 million from Warner Bros. to release his movie on HBO Max as a limited series. In addition to seeing the super villain Darkseid, there was also a spoiler revealed from movie critic and top YouTuber Grace Randolph.

Ryan Reynolds was Green Lantern in a solo movie that was one of the worst superhero movies ever released. He’s hated that movie and has even made fun of it in his smash hit Deadpool movies. Now, Reynolds is back to bring some fun to the Snyder Cut. Any long-time comic book fan will tell you that the Green Lantern has to be in the JLA or it’s just not complete as the Justice League.

I was already excited for the Snyder Cut, and now I’m over the moon about the possibility of what we might see when it’s released in 2021.

How excited are you for the Snyder Cut? Are you going to subscribe to yet another streaming service with HBO Max? Hit me up on social media and let me know.