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Broncos Mailbag: Why has Courtland Sutton’s production declined over the last four games?

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Broncos Fifth Quarter: Offense unable — or unwilling — to stretch field against Eagles’ defense

Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag periodically during the season. Submit questions to Ryan here.

What is going on with Courtland Sutton? Is there a reason his activity is so low these past few games?

— Rich Berger, Idaho Springs

Rich is correct — Sutton’s production has dipped in the four games since Jerry Jeudy returned from injury. The totals against Washington, Dallas, Philadelphia and the Chargers:

  • Sutton — 12 targets, seven catches, 95 yards and no touchdowns.
  • Jeudy — 24 targets, 18 catches, 181 yards and no touchdowns.
  • Tim Patrick — 17 targets, 12 catches, 192 yards and one touchdown.

Coverage dictates where the football goes and the Broncos had only 25 pass attempts against the Chargers. Plus, they have gotten Jeudy involved with shorter passes. But if this offense wants to get more explosive, it starts by challenging teams more often downfield with Sutton.

What do you think it’s going to take to get our passing game booted up? General manager George Paton gave Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton nice extensions, but the two combined for just four catches for 43 yards. I feel like we should be throwing to them more.

— Harold, Fort Collins

Four catches for 43 yards, but that represented 26.7% of the Broncos’ completions and 27.7% of their passing yards against the Chargers.

Sunday’s game was ideal from a Broncos’ offensive standpoint. They improved to 4-0 when they rush at least 30 times — they ran 33 times for 147 yards.

Sutton had only two catches for 17 yards, but he did draw a 15-yard pass interference penalty on the Chargers.

But you’re right, Harold. Starting Sunday night at Kansas City, finding ways to complete chunk passes to Sutton and Patrick (and Jeudy) will be required.

Being that Vic Fangio was a great defensive coach when calling plays from the booth, would it be beneficial to hire an offensive coordinator as a co-head coach and move Fangio back to the booth?

— Matthew Gomez, Pueblo

Well, I give Matthew an “A” for not just thinking outside the box, but outside the box that contains the box. As a defensive coordinator, Fangio did call games from upstairs, but the scenario presented has no chance of conspiring. If Fangio is sitting upstairs next year during a game, it’s because he’s the defensive coordinator for another NFL team.

Ryan, what the heck was Drew Lock thinking on that awful pass that was picked off by Derwin James? He’s done here in Denver.

— Mike, Denver

A question and a comment from Mike. Lock’s interception was a great catch by safety Derwin James, but an awful decision considering the score (14-0) and situation (late in the first half).

Lock was trying to make something happen and it backfired. At that point, Teddy Bridgewater was going to re-enter the game so long as he could protect himself. Lock will only play this year if Bridgewater is injured. Fangio said on Monday that Lock remains the No. 2 quarterback.

Teddy Bridgewater had a gutsy performance Sunday. Any chance he winds up being re-signed next year? I don’t know if we can land Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson next year, and with a draft pick that’ll probably be in the mid-to-late teens of the first round, we’re not getting a blue-chip quarterback to mold.

— Miles, Parker

My first choice would be Wilson. The Seahawks need the draft picks to start their re-load (I’m going to call it rebuild) and Wilson would help kick-start that effort and it would allow the Broncos to keep their skill-position core intact.

As for Bridgewater, who is a free agent in March, his best possible plan is to show the Broncos enough to re-sign and be the place-holder for a quarterback they will draft in the first two rounds.

I still believe the Broncos will go big-game searching this offseason to find quarterback stability.

I think the Broncos need to use draft picks and go get Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett.

— Barri Hicks, Ogden, Utah

Broncos general manager George Paton was in Pittsburgh last month to watch Pickett play for the Panthers.

Pickett, 23, has helped Pitt to a 10-2 record this year and has 40 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

The issue for Paton, if he bypasses trading/signing a veteran: How many draft assets is he willing to give up to move up? My lean is Broncos fans should want to see what Paton can do with a full stock of picks.

Should the Broncos need to find their future franchise quarterback in the draft, do you see one this year they can select based on where they will approximately pick or will they have to wait another year with a place-holder at the position?

— Yoann, Beine-Nauroy, France

The scenarios: 1. Trade for a current starter. 2. Sign a place-holding veteran. 3. Keep Bridgewater. 4. Draft a quarterback.

I think it would behoove the Broncos to draft a quarterback in the first two rounds even if they acquire Aaron Rodgers from Green Bay. It isn’t as crucial if they acquire Russell Wilson from Seattle.

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Vail Resorts is threatening immigration status of foreign investors in Mount Snow project, Vermont regulators allege

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Vail Resorts is threatening immigration status of foreign investors in Mount Snow project, Vermont regulators allege

Vermont regulators this month issued a cease-and-desist order to Vail Resorts, alleging that the Colorado-based ski giant is reneging on an agreement with roughly 30 immigrant investors that could lead to their deportation.

These foreign investors came to the United States under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program — created by Congress in 1990 to facilitate economic development in exchange for the chance to receive a green card, or permanent U.S. residency status.

In 2014, more than 100 people invested $500,000 with Peak Resorts — which Vail Resorts bought in 2019 — for the purposes of building an improved ski lodge and upgraded snowmaking facility at Mount Snow in southern Vermont. In return for their capital and job creation, the investors received temporary residency, with the ability to become permanent U.S. residents in the future.

But Vermont regulators, in their Jan. 7 order, said Vail Resorts is trying to return money to dozens of investors involved in the Mount Snow project before their immigration petitions have been processed by the federal government — which, the state argued, would violate Vermont security laws and could result in investors losing their legal status to remain in the country.

“If your application hasn’t been decided yet and you get refunded, you’re out of possibilities to get your permanent green card,” said Michael S. Pieciak, a commissioner with Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation, which filed the cease-and-desist order. “That’s a very serious outcome for these investors.”

Quinn Kelsey, a Vail Resorts spokesperson, said in a statement that the company is “evaluating our legal recourse” but that it is “confident our practices are fully compliant.”

“Since the Mount Snow EB-5 Project’s formation in 2014, our communications with investors have been transparent, clear and compliant with securities laws,” Kelsey said.

Vail Resorts did not respond when asked why it was refunding the Mount Snow investors.

These investments are primarily an avenue for people to get a coveted green card, rather than make a significant return on investment, Pieciak said.

The state became aware of the refunds in late November and early December when investors told them they had been contacted by Vail Resorts, asking them to complete a form with bank wire transfer instructions.

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These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if you don’t ski

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These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if you don’t ski

Not being a skier in Colorado is the equivalent of blurting “Voldemort” at Hogwarts. People look at you in shock. How dare you not ski?! The thing is, skiing and snowboarding can be pricey — season pass or lift tickets, skis or snowboard, boots, helmet, and layers of cold-weather gear. Plus, trying to get anywhere in the mountains along  I-70 is so … trying.

So what else is there to do, then?

Turns out, there’s a lot more to Colorado in the winter than shredding pow. You can snowshoe to a glorious, four-course dinner, spectate at an elite ice climbing competition, soak your muscles in a hot springs, or ride through a snowy wonderland by train. Read on for tips for finding winter fun off the slopes.

Daniel Brenner, Special to the Denver Post

A competitor loses an edge during the 72nd Running of Leadville Skijoring on March 8, 2020, in Leadville.

Leadville

Billed as the highest city in the country, Leadville is surrounded by fourteeners and is home to snow almost year-round. You could try summiting a peak, but this is recommended only if you have experience climbing in winter. Fortunately, you don’t have to climb one to enjoy great mountain views. There are world-renowned trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Or take the 1-mile trail to the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse for a four-course dinner with a backdrop like no other.

Plan your visit around Crystal Carnival Weekend (March 5-6) and enjoy the skijoring — kind of like waterskiing, but instead of water there’s snow and instead of a boat there’s a horse. That’s right! A horse and rider gallop down the street towing a rope — and on the other end of that rope there’s a person on skis. They race through downtown in a series of jumps. It’s a hootin’-hollerin’ good time! And if someone in your group does want to ski, Ski Cooper is a short drive away.

1642600101 966 These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if

Provided by Ouray Ice Park

The town of Ouray offers a few glimpses of natural waterfall wonders, but this man-made (and free!) ice park is truly spectacular. It’s a mecca for climbers and non-climbers to behold, too.

Ouray

This southwestern mountain town isn’t always easy to get to (keep your eye on storms), but once you’re there, you’ll quickly understand why it’s called the “Little Switzerland of Colorado.”

Ouray is a winter dreamscape nestled in a valley between high mountain cliffs. Every year, staff at Ouray Ice Park turn Uncompahgre Gorge into frigid walls of ice fit for the most talented climbers. You can try the sport yourself or simply watch others. Visit in January to watch the best ice climbers in the world compete.

There are plenty of other activities, if ice climbing isn’t your thing. You can soak in the hot springs, walk around Box Canyon Falls Park, drive along the Million Dollar Highway, or hike the Ouray Perimeter Trail. If someone in your group does want to ski, it’s not far to Telluride.

Cortez

If you’re looking for a perfect après ski atmosphere without ever skiing, head to Cortez, between Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park. It’s a great area in winter since crowds are minimal and the views are endless.

Finding sustenance (in both liquid and solid form) is easy on Cortez’s main drag and in surrounding towns. Grab a pint at WildEdge Brewing Collective, Main Street Brewery, or J Fargo’s Micro Brewery and pair it with pub favorites (the beer nachos are incredible at WildEdge). Dolores River Brewery and Mancos Brewing Co. are good options if you venture further from town. The Farm Bistro just off Main Street has a new lounge that serves only Colorado beer, wine and spirits. Plus, it offers a true farm-to-table experience described as delivering “comfort food with style.” Yum.

1642600101 159 These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if

Liz Copan, Summit Daily News via AP

Dog-sledding guide Tim Thiessen of Leadville brings his huskies down a trail off Tiger Road on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, at Good Times Adventures in Breckenridge.

Buena Vista

Opt to warm yourself instead of freeze on the slopes with a trip to Buena Vista. There’s a large concentration of hot springs in the area to soak the weariest muscles.

Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort offers pools of varying temperatures and even a 400-foot water slide. Or rent a private cabin at Antero Hot Springs or the Merrifield Homestead Cabins for more of a secluded retreat. Head south to find Joyful Journey Hot Springs or Salida Hot Springs and Aquatic Center to swim in one of the largest indoor hot springs pools in the country.

If something more exciting beckons, try Monarch Dog Sled rides. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be in the Iditarod? It’s not as easy as you might think to stay standing on a dog sled. Not to worry, though, if you don’t want to drive the dogs; you can stay seated up front. Make sure to bundle up and wear goggles since snow is bound to get kicked up into your face.

Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek is known for the casinos lining its main street, but there’s more to this town than you might realize. Visit in February, and you’ll find the downtown corridor transform into a sea of ice as the town hosts the state’s largest ice carving competition. Artists from all over try their hand at creating masterpieces from hundreds of pounds of ice. There’s an ice maze for kids to outwit, an ice slide for those who are a kid at heart, and even an ice martini bar! It’s a lot of fun for the whole family.

Draft horses with Horses Are Us, ...

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Draft horses pull sleigh rides during the Georgetown Christmas Market on Dec. 8, 2019.

Georgetown

You may have to fight ski traffic for a bit to get to Georgetown, but it’s worth it. It’s the perfect family-friendly day trip from Denver. Every December, Georgetown’s Sixth Street transforms into a quintessential Christmas postcard. Stringed lights illuminated downtown and the smell of roasting chestnuts fills the air; you may think you’ve stepping onto the set of a holiday movie. Take a sleigh ride around town, listen to carolers, and stroll through vendors to pick out gifts for the whole family. After you’ve filled up on eggnog, head to the Georgetown Loop Railroad. Every year it features holiday excursions that traverse Santa’s Lighted Forest and might even include a visit from the jolly man himself! Every kid goes home from the train ride with a special treat and smiles for days.

1642600101 868 These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

The skies are full of stars above the unique formations of the Wheeler Geologic Area in the Rio Grande National Forest on Aug. 7, 2020, near Creede.

Creede

You might not think of Creede as a winter destination, but there are few prettier scenes than this little town, nearly surrounded by mountain cliffs blanketed in snow.

Plan your visit to take in the annual Chocolate Festival, where local business owners showcase delectable chocolate specialties. January brings the annual TommyKnocker Pond Hockey Tournament. Whether you’re on the ice yourself or just spectating, there’s plenty of live entertainment and good food. If you’re “officially over winter” by February, head to Creede for its aptly-named Cabin Fever Daze. There’s live music, night skating, curling, bonfires, improv theater, and all-around good fun.

1642600101 468 These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if
The Springs Resort and Spa in downtown Pagosa Springs is like a water park for hot springs lovers — and its just a 30-minute drive from Wolf Creek Ski Area. There are 25 pools in a lovingly manicured resort along the San Juan River. The mineral-rich water will soothe body and mind. (T. Carter, The Springs Resort and Spa)
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“This is a crisis”: 672 people died in Colorado traffic crashes last year — the highest number in nearly two decades

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“This is a crisis”: 672 people died in Colorado traffic crashes last year — the highest number in nearly two decades

More people died in crashes on Colorado’s roads last year than any other year in nearly two decades, prompting highway officials to call for drivers to change the way they act to reverse the tragic trend.

At least 672 people died in traffic crashes last year, though Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said he expects the number to exceed 700 once the year’s data is finalized. Driving is the most dangerous activity many Coloradans do on an average day despite the fact that nearly all crash deaths are preventable, he said in a Tuesday news conference.

The number of deaths last year is 50% higher than the number recorded in 2011 and the highest on record since 2002, data compiled by the Colorado Department of Transportation shows.

“This is a crisis in our state,” Packard said. “This is a crisis we’re dealing with across the country. And I don’t use that word lightly.”

Packard and other officials attributed the rise in deaths to drivers’ lack of personal responsibility. Too many people are driving while impaired, using excessive speeds and allowing themselves to be distracted behind the wheel, he said.

Colorado’s population and the number of people using its roads have increased in the last two decades but they have not risen at the same rate as the number of crash deaths, said John Lorme, director of maintenance and operations for the Colorado Department of Transportation. Traffic deaths increased in 2020 from 2019 even as the use of Colorado’s roads plummeted during the beginning of the pandemic, he said.

“Drivers must do their part,” Lorme said.

At least 246 of 2021’s traffic deaths, or 37%, involved an impaired driver, up from 212 such deaths in 2020. Data about which substances drivers were using last year was not yet available because toxicology reports can take months, Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Sam Cole said. The department will publish a report when the data is final.

The final number of deaths caused by distracted drivers also was not yet available, Cole said.

Officials urged Coloradans to use seatbelts while traveling. At least 226 of the people who died in traffic crashes last year were not wearing seatbelts — or a third of the total deaths.

The five counties with the highest number of crashes are some of the state’s most populous: El Paso, Adams, Denver, Jefferson and Arapahoe. Of those counties, El Paso is the only one to see a decrease from 2020 and no growth from the average number of deaths from the prior three years. Adams, Denver and Jefferson counties each saw a 14% increase from their three-year averages and Arapahoe saw a 10% increase.

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