ENGLEWOOD • Peyton Manning was a guest at Raiders training camp, DeMarcus Ware continues to consult with the Cowboys, and Eric Decker signed a contract with the Patriots.
Other than that, Broncos Country, how was your Thursday?
Guess the 2017 season was worse than we thought. Where’s everybody going?
Hate to be the bearer of good news, but here goes nothin’: through five days of training camp as Colorado’s quarterback, Case “Mr. Sunshine” Keenum has yet to throw an interception. The QB who would be king has played 18 holes of golf with Justin Verlander, published a Christian devotional (“Playing for More”), afforded Vance Joseph a sense of security, tossed touchdowns to Courtland Sutton (a memorable, acrobatic, leaping catch in the back of the end zone), Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders (a bunch of times), Phillip Lindsay, Jake Butt and others on ‘O.’ Not one Keenum pass has gone to Chris Harris Jr., Von Miller, Bradley Chubb or Roby, Darian Stewart, Justin Simmons, Brandon Marshall or others on ‘D.’
(The alternate, Grumpy Gus headline: Broncos Defense Still Struggling To Force Turnovers.)
This is purely speculation, but I believe if the Broncos throw zero interceptions in ‘18, they will win the AFC West. Maybe then their greatest alumnus will remember who signed their checks.
Jon Gruden and the Raiders? Really, Peyton?
The Pats? What about our time together, Eric?
The Cowbo ... OK, DeMarcus. That makes sense.
“It looks like DeMarcus is coaching everybody now. I have to talk to him about that,” Von Miller said with a laugh. “He’s with the Cowboys, he’s with the Chicago Bears. I thought he was just going to coach with us.”
Are the Broncos alumni defecting because Vance Joseph was not honest with us about practice?
“Great week of practice,” Joseph said so often during the lost season of ‘17.
From what we know now, Joseph must have known then that simply wasn’t true.
“He was showing us (practice) clips from last year and we look like two totally different teams,” linebacker Todd Davis said. “We’re faster. We’re more efficient. We’re more tenacious.
“I think the way we prepare now is going to show a lot in the way we play games,” Davis said.
Nobody — and I mean nobody — practices better than the Denver Broncos.
“It’s practice, and sometimes you guys watch and it all looks good. It’s not. We’re not there yet,” Joseph said Wednesday.
Fine, then I won’t commend Keenum for not throwing a single interception. Given the state of Broncos quarterbacking A.P. (After Peyton), the total void of interceptions feels noteworthy. (For the record, Keenum has been just fine — nothing spectacular, nothing dreadful.) And I won’t commend Sutton for looking like a dark horse candidate for offensive rookie of the year (“So far he’s a beast,” said defensive coordinator Joe Woods), Bradley Chubb for providing the yin to Von Miller’s yang, Emmanuel Sanders for reminding the rookie wide receivers he’s still here and still exceedingly difficult to cover. Still think Sanders should be back there returning punts, though.
And I won’t say the Broncos may have found their starting quarterback, but now they must find a backup. Paxton Lynch threw an interception in a 7-on-7 drill with no pass rush; Chad Kelly has been the first quarterback on the practice field, the least impressive once practice starts. Or that right tackle remains a bugaboo, as free agent acquisition Jared Veldheer can’t contain Chubb and/or Miller. (Is that Veldheer’s fault, or a testament to the pass rushers?) Or that replacing Aqib Talib with Roby is going to work out just fine, as well — but the Broncos must find a third cornerback to replace Roby.
“We don’t look at it like you guys do,” Joseph said of practice.
From their sound bytes in training camp here is how the Broncos are looking at it: the quarterback was the issue, and now that the new guy has stopped throwing interceptions, all is right in Broncos Country.
“He’s better, in my opinion, than what I saw on film,” Joseph said. “His accuracy, his command, his smarts, his feel — he’s better now than he was last year.”
Hope that’s true. The 5-11 Broncos I covered in ‘17 had far more holes than just at quarterback. Now they are all-in on Keenum to fix what went wrong.
(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)