Peter King spent two days at Broncos training camp this weekend and came away with two main thoughts that will appear in his column this week:
Von Miller’s performance this season will be a metaphor for the Broncos’ performance.
Joe Flacco is “16 miles ahead of Drew Lock” right now.
I have some thoughts on both (as you might imagine), so let’s consider King’s explanations.
"Drew Lock just had a TERRIBLE practice... Joe Flacco is about 16 miles ahead of Drew Lock right now"@peter_king on the two Broncos practices he watched, the first leg of his tour.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) July 22, 2019
Plus talks up importance of DEN's TEs: https://t.co/9S7pcRHWN6
‘Von Miller as metaphor’
King believes that Miller’s ability to be disciplined and to “be a key cog” in Vic Fangio’s defense, which King labeled a “classic old Bill Belichick” do-your-job approach, will set the tone for whether the Broncos defense can stay on course and just “do their jobs.”
And how the defense goes, so goes the team.
“There were too many times in 2018 when Von Miller was trying to do too much, trying to freelance,” King said. “He’d jump offsides just trying to get an advantage in pass rush.”
A disciplined Miller will mean the defense can rule the day once again.
And based on what King took away from just two days of camp (which he acknowledged), the defense is going to have to rule the day for the team to have much of a chance.
‘Flacco ahead of Lock’
King’s evaluation of Drew Lock so far was...not good - “Drew Lock just had a terrible practice.”
Before too much freaking out occurs, remember ... just two practices in the first five days of training camp (which King did add as a disclaimer).
But knowing that a lot of fans would like to know how long Flacco can hold off Lock as starting quarterback, King wanted to give fans a dose of reality - it could be a while. On his obviously meticulous calculations, King said Flacco is “16 miles ahead of Drew Lock.”
So the obvious next question is the more important:
How good is Flacco going to be?
King believes it all depends on the tight end position. Given some minor/still recovering injury issues with Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli, plus the usual growing pains for a rookie with first-round pick Noah Fant, it appears that position is still a relatively big question mark.
“The big key is how much of a friend is the tight end position going to be for him?” King said, adding that the Broncos clearly want the tight end to be a big part of the offense.
“Flacco needs that security blanket, especially because the offensive line is so questionable,” King added. “He needs to have an early outlet. We already know he’s got the deep arm and will make some good music with Emmanuel Sanders, but whether [the early outlet] is with Noah Fant or any of those other guys at tight end, that has to happen.”
Calling the offensive line “questionable” is possibly the most revealing - and depressing - thing that King said. Based on camp reports so far, when Flacco had tons of time, the veteran made some good passes. But he has rarely had tons of time.
But despite King’s general tendency to be down on the Broncos (in my opinion), he said he left camp a little optimistic, mainly because of the coach.
“I just love the hire of Vic Fangio,” King said. “I think it’s going to be a very, very interesting team in a very tough division in 2019.”
Vic Fangio keeping it real once again: “Culture is kind of a new word in the sporting vernacular... Culture, to me, is about getting a bunch of good players in here and then a bunch of good coaches and then we win a bunch of games and everybody’s happy so we have good culture.”— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) July 22, 2019