“It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” The Twilight Zone (1959 tv series)
That is one of the best tv intros of all time and it fits perfectly this time of year for sports fans. It’s a time where all hope is placed on the Colorado Rockies to keep us talking playoffs…..at least until late July when the Broncos and the rest of the NFL start training camp. It’s a time where the NBA, although extremely predictable, gave us much to chew on. Even for non-hockey fans the Colorado Eagles kept sports fans on the edge of their seats as they won their second Kelly Cup in a row while in their last ECHL season. It’s the mid June to mid July sports twilight zone. A time where the rest of the MLB doesn’t heat up until after the All-Star break. So….I decided to make this week’s Deep Thoughts all about the key story lines we will be focusing on in the next few months leading into a very important fall for damn near every sports team we cover on the Hull Show.
The Broncos: Just how big is the 2018 season for the Denver Broncos? How many jobs are on the line? Head Coach Vance Joseph’s for starters. In his first year he saw his team spiral out of control, losing 10 of their final 12 games. If he can’t improve to AT LEAST .500 then look for Joseph to be gone and John Elway will be in search of his fourth head coach in 9 seasons. And don’t think that just because Elway is a Broncos legend he is exempt from the pressure of losing a job. So far, Elway has shown he is very good at locking up big time free agents or at the very least, locking up one big free agent in Peyton Manning and attracting a pack of other talented guys along the way. The Manning signing was a major success, earning 2 trips to the SB and one victory. But without Manning the Broncos under Elway are 22-26 (pre Manning with Tebow and post Manning with Siemian, Osweiler and Lynch.) Not having a plan B will forever haunt The Duke. His drafting has been average to slightly below depending on the positions you review. At QB?? Gotta say an F. Brock Osweiler headed for open waters and when he came back, the Broncos were a mess offensively. Paxton Lynch, a first rounder, has been atrocious and forced Denver to dip back into the free agency pool with Case Keenum. So while Vance Joseph has no room for error, Mr. Elway shouldn’t be too far behind.
The Nuggets: 46 wins and no playoffs. Life isn’t fair. And fair or not, Mike Malone could be in his last season as the head coach of the Denver Nuggets. I like Malone but I’ll admit he had some questionable rotation calls late in the season and finding creative ways to isolate Jokic wasn’t a strength, especially down the stretch. He has the talent in Jokic, Harris, Murray and Millsap but does he have the time? 46 wins, 47 wins…even 50….it won’t matter if he can’t get the Nuggets into some post season play. New uniforms or not, the pressure is on Denver next season. Tim Connelly, like John Elway, is under just about as much pressure as his HC. He needs to find another descent enough player to compliment his young core next season if they want to take that next step.
The Avalanche: Under Jared Bednar the Avs made a HUGE improvement this season. They went from one of the worst teams in the NHL to a playoff team. Because of the Avalanche, the Pepsi Center saw some playoff action for the first time in 4 years. They also kept it together despite a ton of big injuries. Were it not for the Vegas Golden Nights stunning success, Jared Bednar would have a case for the NHL’s coach of the year. Now that the rest of the league sees that Bednar and his Avs are for real it will be interesting to see how they handle next year.
The Rockies: We continue to bang our heads against the wall here. Hitting? Starting pitching? The Bullpen? Coors field? None of it is really going the right way for the Rockies yet they are within reach of the NL West lead. However, I can easily see the crumble on its way for Colorado as soon as late June. Can the bullpen step up and hold onto a lead for a change?
The Eagles: Back to back Kelly Cup champs! What a huge season for the Colorado Eagles. Now they get set for their biggest challenge yet; moving up to the AHL. It’s a completely different game and some Eagles will be lucky to be on the team next season. It’s a great change for a VERY popular Northern Colorado team that will only grow their brand. But one can’t help but wonder how severe the growing pains will be next season.
The CSU Rams: There’s a lot of questions surrounding this team. They were so bad defensively that their entire defensive coaching staff has changed. And with several offensive studs like Michael Gallup and Nick Stevens out of the picture, Mike Bobo’s high powered offense is in need of some immediate help. Collin Hill was suppose to be the guy this season but he tore his ACL in a pickup game of hoops. So Bobo brought Washington transfer, K.J. Carta-Samuels to likely take the job. They also got former Nebraska Huskers QB, Patrick O’Brien but he can’t play until next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Can CSU finally get past that 7 win total this season or will they be lucky to finish around .500?
The UNC Bears: Do or die time for Earnest Collins Jr. I love the guy. He’s great in the community and great with his players but at the end of the day it’s about W’s. Getting Jacob Knipp back from injury will be huge for the Bears but keeping him healthy is the trick. He’s been hurt off and on over the past few seasons and that severely crippled the Bears offensively. After hearing about several new players on signing day, I am optimistic UNC can turn it around..but a turn around for the Bears might only be a handful of wins….enough wins to save their Head Coach’s job? We shall see.
The CU Buffs: After an amazing season in 2016, a season that saw them get to the Pac 12 championship, the Buffs took a step back last season going 5-7 and missing a bowl game. Head Coach Mike MacIntyre wants to see some leadership and accountability this season in order to bounce back.”Last year was good, but not as good as the year before,” he told buffzone.com http://www.buffzone.com/football-cubuffs/ci_31934234/macintyre-emphasizing-leadership-buffs-this-offseason “(In 2016), you had some guys that had been through a lot of things and really valued every bit of it. Not saying the other guys didn’t. I think (in 2016), there was just a little bit … just a little extra.” In 2018, in order to get back to something similar to their 2016 run, they’ll need a LOT extra.