Denver Post sports columnist Mark Kiszla answered questions about all things Colorado sports in a live chat on Monday. Here are the highlights.
Hi Mark — I hear some of the sports world talking heads chatting up the Broncos as a young team that will be a contender next year. At times I see brilliant play. Other times, not so much. Your take?
Kiszla: Know why the Broncos have reason for hope?
The Raiders. Yes, the Raiders.
In the third season of the Jon Gruden regime, Las Vegas has beaten the Chiefs once and played KC off its feet in a loss.
The Broncos hope injuries heal and quarterback Drew Lock grows and the defense gels under Vic Fangio’s system in 2021. Year 3.
Or that’s the hope, anyway.
You buying it? Or selling?
Is it time for the Broncos to move past John Elway?
Kiszla: With all due respect for the Super Bowl victories that he has brought Denver, I thought it was time to move past Mr. Elway at the conclusion of 2019. But should the team play poorly down the stretch of this season, would president Joe Ellis want to move on from Elway with future ownership of the team in so much doubt? I dunno. But my guess at 12:11 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020 is: I doubt it.
Your thoughts on Nuggets signing Paul Millsap for another year? I think a year is okay but $10 million seems like a lot.
Kiszla: Ain’t talking about Paul Millsap except to say this:
$100 million! $100 million? $100 freaking million.
That’s how much Millsap has taken the Nuggets for over the course of the past three years and the upcoming season.
Millsap and his uncle (the agent) must be laughing until their bellies hurt.
Forget the Broncos. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon until major changes are made starting with the elimination of both Joe Ellis, Elway and Vic Fangio, and the Bowlens selling the team to someone who is interested in winning. Let’s talk Nuggets!
Kiszla: Before the Broncos get serious about winning another Super Bowl, they have to get serious about settling the ownership dispute of this team, even if it means selling the franchise that the late Mr. B built.
But Nuggets? You really want to talk Nuggets after the worst week in recent franchise memory?
OK. I’m game.
The Nuggets have now lost Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee and Torrey Craig. Moreover, Grant turned down the Nuggets the same offer he signed with the Pistons. I guess team chemistry was not as good as we thought. What’s your opinion on all this? Will the Nuggets be contenders in 2021?
Kiszla: Will the Nuggets be contenders in 2021?
You mean contenders, as in contenders to dethrone King James and the Lakers as NBA champion?
Give me a minute here.
I’ve got to fall on the floor, roll out the door and down the street laughing.
Put it this way:
The Lakers added Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol.
Every single one of those moves is Grade A.
After pursuing a trade for Jrue Holiday and deeming it too expensive for their tastes, the Nuggets messed around with Jerami Grant, their top priority in free agency, and were forced to match an offer from Detroit, where Grant has friends that obviously admire his game more than Nuggets honcho Tim Connelly does.
If you truly value a player, you bring your best offer first.
Matching is reactive.
And Grant said: Buh-bye.
What the Nuggets did here was royally … um … mess up.
Rank the Denver professional team lead personnel guys: John Elway, Tim Connelly, Jeff Bridich and Joe Sakic.
Kiszla: Current rankings:
No. 1: Joe Sakic. Sorry for ever doubting you, Super Joe. Now go get a goalie. Please.
No. 2: Tim Connelly. The best in NBA at drafting and developing talent. Free agency and trades? Not so much.
No. 3: Vacant
No. 4: John Elway. Has done good work recently in the draft. But if his name wasn’t Elway, he wouldn’t still have his job.
No. 87: Jeff Bridich. Have tried to give the man a chance. Really have. Running out of patience.
Grant’s worth $60 million over three years, but Millsap ain’t worth $10 million over one? They’re both too steep, but at least one doesn’t leave us on the hook for two additional years
Kiszla: The Nuggets would’ve been a better team in 2019-20 and probably could’ve locked up Jerami Grant long ago if they had just gone ahead and cut Paul Millsap prior to last season.
Kiz Big Baby blocked me on twitter so sad.
Kiszla: You undoubtedly did some knucklehead thing to deserve it, tough guy.
Apologize profusely and send me a case of nice Italian wine and might — repeat might — give you a second chance.
But you’re welcome to join this chat any time to beg for mercy
People who want the Bowlens to sell the Broncos should be careful what they wish for. New owners could move them couldn’t they?
Kiszla: Yes, a global warming could make Denver a coastal city.
But I do not spend my day borrowing trouble in anticipation of the apocalypse.
Was yesterday’s running game an aberration or a sign of what’s to come?
Kiszla: I gave Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur the basics of the game plan more than a week ago:
Give your running backs more touches that Drew Lock.
It took a 37-12 beatdown in Las Vegas for Shurmur to come around and adopt my plan.
He is most certainly welcome. As are you, my good friends in Broncos Country.
Did Broncos win yesterday’s game, or did Dolphins lose it? (Please don’t write “both.”)
Can Pat Shurmur please call some swing passes to Phillip Lindsay for Pete’s sake?
Kiszla: The Broncos do not believe Phillip Lindsay can catch the football.
Not saying I agree.
But I strongly believe it to be true.
Is it just me or are the Nuggets losing the offseason? I think they lost a ton of defensive toughness and will take a step backwards next year.
Kiszla: The Nuggets, if you ask me, have been the best story in Denver sports for years in a town that obsesses about the Broncos.
And Tim Connelly has been a very good GM for the Nuggets.
And I’m not in the camp that wants to fire coach Michael Malone whenever anything goes wrong.
But this past week?
The Nuggets were PU, run-from-the-room, stinky awful.
Hey. Stuff happens.
Both. Ha! (I shoulda known better.)
Kiszla: The Broncos had a great game plan. And they brought pressure on Tua, making him look like a rookie.
I also thought, with the time line of my Twitter feed to back up the claim, that Miami coach Brian Flores should have removed his struggling young QB from the game earlier and given a shot to a proven veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Flores did eventually make the move.
But too late to beat the Broncos.
Lucky for Denver.
Kiz for Coach of the Year (for offense’s game plan)!
Kiszla: I would like to thank all my peeps, especially the knuckleheads that I’ve been forced to block on Twitter, for making this award possible.
Now pay me.
Has Garett Bolles made a giant step of improvement this year?
Kiszla: Yes, Garett Bolles has made a giant step forward.
And he gave a hint of it in training camp, when he talked with the media and basically said that he had to stop being a knucklehead on the field.
Congrats on the tough self-evalutation.
Congrats on the Pro Bowl worthy season.
And congrats on the big money he’s going to make in his next congrat.
You deserve it all, Mr. Bolles.
Any comments on Avs off-season moves?
Kiszla: I would’ve liked a bigger splash. And a new starting goalie.
But, as I noted earlier in this chat, Super Joe has made me look bad in the past by doubting him.
Woohoo Broncos, about time. But I have a Rockies question, two actually. Should the Rockies pursue Theo Epstein? He brought both the Red Sox and Cubs back. Also, Saunders disagreed with me, but I think the Rockies should follow the Rays strategy and stock up on pitchers in the bull pen. They do not have the greatest bull pen but they do have a plethora of arms that help them win games. Yes that would mean to trade Arenando and Story. Your thoughts on this.
Kiszla: I believe if you dug through the backlog of my columns (punishment no human being should have to endure, I know), that you could find me give a recommendation that the Rockies hire Kim Ng, recently hired by Miami and baseball’s first female GM. I don’t think Dick Monfort likes firing people. So I don’t know if he’s given much thought on any possible replacement for Jeff Bridich. I actually like Bridich’s theory that you need a strong bullpen in Coors Field. The execution of that theory, however, has been generally awful. I agree that a trade of Trevor Story or Nolan Arenado is almost certainly a necessary step if the Rockies want to get serious about rebuilding. But which one? Whew. Tough question. Both great players. But Story might be more valuable overall. I also suspect, however, that Arenado might be more loyal to the Rockies organization, as much as that might surprise folks.
Hello Mr. Kiszla, I am a big fan of Phillip Lindsay and actually got to see him play in a state high school playoff game in Montrose. Being the emotional leader of this Broncos team I think he is a must re-sign. His post game press conferences are great. Does a deal with him get done soon or will we have to wait and see what happens in the off season. Thanks for the good work.
Kiszla: Phillip LIndsay can run the rock and also lead a team. You probably saw it way back when he was in high school. Even a knucklehead like me understood Lindsay’s value to a winning program by the time he pulled on a uniform for the University of Colorado. I think there are some bridges to mend between Lindsay and the Broncos front office. Can it be done. To be honest, I’m not so sure. In pro sports, however, money can heal most all wounds. So I’m saying there’s a chance. Nothing more.
From Peter King regarding the Miami decision to bench Tua: “Fans and some in the media say when a quarterback is benched, ‘Well, that’s it. You can’t go back to the benched guy now. You’ve cast your lot.’ Why? Why can’t a benched quarterback be like a benched goalie in hockey? It should be…Give the coach the ability to use the quarterback the way he uses other players on the field. If he’s not playing well, it’s not a tenured job. Yank him.”
Kiszla: I agree, in large measure. It is possible to bench a QB at the NFL level without it being considered an end-of-the-world move. Especially a young QB that’s struggling. I made that very argument live during the Broncos-Dolphins game on my Twitter feed. And Twitter being Twitter, a number of people told me I was an idiot. Repeatedly. To an extent I blocked two or three of them. Not because the arguments make me upset. I find em funny. But I also think life’s short and Twitter is not to be taken seriously.
I digress …
You absolutlely can bench a young NFL quarterback, whether his name is Tua or Drew, without ruining him.
It’s all how a coach sells a tough move.
You begin with words to these effect:
I love you, young man. I believe in you, young man. We’re going to help you be the best QB you can possibly be, my friend. But right now, what’s best for our football team — and for you — is to make a switch.
My weekly praise for your college scouting acumen from this past April: “OK, here’s why I have a man-crush on (Justin) Jefferson. It seemed like every time LSU quarterback Joe Burrow needed to move the sticks on third down or find a target in the end zone, his eyes were magnetically attracted to Jefferson, who regularly delivered in the clutch.” He’s proving you right again.
Kiszla: The best player on LSU’s national championship team was Justin Jefferson. Period. The end. Even a knucklehead like me could see it.
My favorite two receivers in the 2020 NFL draft were Jefferson and Chase Claypool. I did like Jerry Jeudy. Still like him. A lot. Jeudy was an excellent pick by John Elway. I did not and do not get the choice of KJ Hamler. That’s no knock on Hamler. But it doesn’t make sense. And Hamler is not Claypool. No way. No how.
Is Elway too hard headed to be a perennial good GM?
Kiszla: This is an excellent observation. Not saying I’m buying it. But will say this: Elway’s unbelievable competitive fire has helped him be a champion as a QB and GM. But our strengths can sometimes be a weakness. That’s true for me, you and Elway. Elway wants to win everything. Even contract negotiations. And I think that sometimes translates into perceived disrespect, whether the player sitting across the negotiating table from Elway is Chris Harris Jr or Phillip Lindsay.
I think Lock played his best game of the season yesterday. Maybe the fourth quarter against the Chargers was elite, but for an entire game, yesterday was it. Of course, maybe the bar is really low.
Kiszla: I think Drew Lock can be a competent NFL starting QB.
That’s not a knock. But I don’t think, and have never believed, he’s a franchise QB.
Maybe he will prove me wrong. Hope he does.
He’s a fun QB to be around. And I enjoy covering Lock. He’s a hoot. And loves his job, which is cool.
Kiz, what is your thoughts on the Nuggs not being able to find a roster spot for Craig?
Kiszla: Torrey Craig is a role player. A very good role player. And a fantastic teammate (there are any number of players in the Nuggets locker room that can vouch for that). Denver would not have survived the first-round matchup against San Antonio in 2019 without Craig coming to the rescue. Craig had a bad, maybe even really bad, time in the NBA bubble this summer. He’s not an essential piece. But I think Craig might well still be on the team if the Nuggets hadn’t bungled so many other things during the 10 days on either side of the draft.
Mobile users, if you can’t see the live chat, tap here.
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