Carney column: The Colorado sports scene as I see it
If you’re a diehard Colorado sports fan at the professional level, or even the collegiate level, it was a rough weekend for you. Not only did Broncos lose in embarrassing fashion to the New York Jets on the road, the Rockies were swept out of the National League Division Series with merely a whimper at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers. Fear not though, better days are ahead, at least for the two overlooked professional franchises in Colorado.
I’m going to try something new this week with my column. Rather than focus on one topic and give you my thoughts, I’m going to give you my thoughts in bits and pieces on a number of topics that have popped up around professional and collegiate sports in Colorado.
• Vance Joseph has got to go. I’ve said it over and over again: John Elway made a colossal mistake hanging on to Joseph for this season after spending some time last offseason going back and forth on the decision to fire him. Joseph was never qualified to be a head coach after serving as the defensive coordinator of the worst defense in the league in 2016 with the Miami Dolphins, and he’s put together a pretty poor coaching staff, highlighted by defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who is equally overmatched. Neither seems to have the respect of the locker room, considering the comments that have come out of that room in recent weeks after losses from Chris Harris Jr. and Derek Wolfe. The Broncos are a mess for the second year in a row after starting 2-0. It won’t get any easier this week at home against the Los Angeles Rams.
• Speaking of the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday’s game at Mile High Stadium could be the final nail in the coffin for Joseph as the head coach of this historic franchise. The Rams are currently the Super Bowl favorite, and are an offensive juggernaut, thanks to NFL MVP favorite Todd Gurley, and budding star second-year quarterback Jared Goff. There’s a good chance the Rams just blow the Broncos off the field on Sunday. Should that happen, Joseph shouldn’t be allowed into the facility Monday morning. If Elway wants to turn this franchise around after all the work he did in the offseason to reshape the roster, he needs to move on from Joseph as soon as possible, especially if this mid-season swoon continues.
• Yes, the Rockies lost in disappointing fashion, but what a season it was. Maybe if the Rockies took care of business last Monday at Dodgers Stadium and won the NL West, they’d be advancing to the National League Championship Series like the Dodgers are to face the Brewers. Colorado matched up much better with Atlanta on paper than they did the Dodgers, but that just goes to show how pivotal each game is throughout a 162-game schedule. If the Rockies’ bullpen doesn’t blow a lead in April and the Rockies hang on to win one of those games, they’d probably still be playing while planning to raise an NL West championship flag on Opening Day next spring.
Bud Black had a rough September and early October. Really, I’m not sure how in a must-win game on Sunday at Coors Field, he doesn’t hand the ball to Denver native Kyle Freeland in hopes of forcing a Game 4. Freeland was masterful Tuesday evening in Chicago against the Cubs in the Wild Card game, but even then Bud Black messed up, pulling Freeland after just 82 pitches. You all know how that went: Adam Ottavino allowed an RBI double to Javier Baez, forcing extras. Fortunately for Black and the Rockies, Colorado won in 13 innings. Then, in the division series, Black wouldn’t give the ball to Freeland in Game 3 at home after Freeland had a full five days off after the Wild Card win. Instead, German Marquez blew up, and the Rockies are sitting at home watching the Championship series.
• With the Rockies out of the playoffs and the Broncos in a major funk, sports fans should turn their attention to the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets. The Avs are off to a hot start in the third year under Jared Bednar, holding a +6 goal advantage through the first two games of the season, meaning they’re winning in convincing fashion. Joe Sakic rebuilt this team on the fly over the summer after the club made the playoffs last spring, adding a legitimate No. 1 goaltender in Philipp Grubauer and a solid third-pairing defenseman in Ian Cole. This team has a ton of firepower up front and should be able to put up a ton of goals this season, but with a solidified back end, the Avs could take the next step this year and embark on a deep playoff run. With the Nuggets, they might be the most underrated team in the Western Conference. The signing of Isaiah Thomas adds offensive firepower to an already potent Nugget offense. Overall, the Nuggets are impressively deep. While they missed the playoffs last year by one game, this group appears on the verge of really taking off this season under Michael Malone. It will be interesting to see what Michael Porter Jr. can bring to this group this season, but the guy I have my eyes on is Torrey Craig.
• One last thing: Laviska Shenault Jr. is a stud. Colorado seems to churn out talented receivers every year now under Mike MacIntyre, but Shenault is easily the best one. Shenault might end up finishing in the top 3 of the Heisman Trophy Award voting if he keeps this up. It’s surprising that defensive coordinators haven’t figured out how to slow him down. That’s a testament to Shenault.
Josh Carney is the Sports Editor of the Post Independent. He loves to talk sports with anyone that will listen. Have something you want to talk about? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
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