Isaiah McKenzie is one of the least-liked players on the Denver Broncos. If you were to ask the average fan, anyway. His rookie season was filled with poor judgement and inability to hold onto the football, which is the quickest way to earn the contempt from a rabid and often unforgiving fanbase.
Name: Isaiah McKenzie
Position: Wide Receiver / Kick Returner
Weight: 164 lbs
Experience: 2nd season
Once the mistakes began to pile up, it just seemed like the fear of making another led to another and so on. You could see the frustration in his body language on the field and that was when head coach Vance Joseph failed to do his job last season.
When a player loses all confidence in himself and you can see it as clear as day, he needs to see the bench. Joseph let those mistakes pile up before finally, mercifully sending the rookie to the bench in Week 12.
Look, I’ve spent the first few paragraphs ripping the guy, but he has athletic talent that is still promising despite all of the negatives I’ve mentioned. He dominated the NFL Combine with the best 3 Cone Drill of 6.64 seconds and ran a 4.42 40-yard dash.
The problem at this point is all confidence. Until he gets a chance to make some positive plays, the jury will remain out on his career long-term.
In my opinion, his chances need to come exclusively on offense. Have him work on his routes and get him in the games for mismatch opportunities. Give him a chance to make those big plays on offense.
The bad is on Vance Joseph right now. According to Mike Klis of 9News, McKenzie is at the top of the depth chart on punt return duties.
Punt return is still shaky for the #Broncos.. Isaiah McKenzi is still the top guy right now.. says @MikeKlis @Broncos @9NEWSSports insider w/@Tyler_Polumbus @AndyKOASports #BroncosCountry https://t.co/gDTPg8zyvy— Orange & Blue 760 (@OrangeBlue760) July 27, 2018
Frankly, McKenzie should not return a single punt in 2018. He may one day be a good punt returner, but that one day cannot happen this season. He needs to regain some confidence before he gets another shot in that arena.
The Broncos new Special Teams Coordinator, Tom McMahon mentioned McKenzie during Broncos Minicamp in June. He has a preference for smaller kick returners and was anxious at the time to see what McKenzie could do on special teams.
“I think that the little man is back in,” McMahon said of smaller sized kick returners. “When I say the little man, I mean the smaller returners are now going to be able to get back there because it is more like a punt return. You can take your best returner, you don’t need the big back that’s going to take the big shots coming through a wedge. I’m excited to see what Isaiah [McKenzie] can do. You’re going to see the smaller guys, Tyreek Hill, those type of body types back in this game, in my opinion.”
He apparently hadn’t watched the Broncos 2017 film, yet.
With Carlos Henderson seemingly on the cusp of ending what was once a promising career in the NFL and with Jordan Taylor starting the season on the PUP list, the door is wide open for a guy like McKenzie to get his short career back on track.
It’ll be key for him to run crisp routes and use his elite agility to get open for the big plays down field. His job in 2018 has to be 100% focused on being a wide receiver. That’s where he can get his career back on track and work his way back into the good graces of this demanding Broncos fanbase.