The problem with the NFL’s blackout rule

Earlier in the week came news that the Raiders had chosen to lower their blackout threshold. As a Broncos fan, I'm used to watching a franchise that has an infinitesimal chance of needing to manipulate the blackout rule, but living in San Diego for the last few years has afforded me an up-close view of a franchise that struggles to sell tickets despite having been fairly successful for much of the last decade.

While I understand that to the NFL, control of the product is considered an important linchpin in maintaining their revenue stream, I don't think that teams comprehend the basis for why the blackout rule is bad for both the teams and the fans. I’ve lived here for four years, and I have yet to hear anyone say, “Hey, I want to get to the game this weekend because they’re going to black it out otherwise.”

The truth is, in San Diego you’re fighting a beach-oriented culture in which schoolkids are bussed to the shore for surfing classes, street fairs can pop up at any time because there really isn’t a bad weather season, and the local NFL franchise really isn’t a big draw. The media coverage isn’t exactly fertile, and despite my own interest in the game, I rarely meet a serious Chargers fan. Contrary to some of my experiences on the Internet, the ones that i meet tend to be, well, SoCal folks - laidback, not that attached or as used to the teams’ shenanigans as Chicago's North Siders were to the losing ways of the Cubs.

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Chad Johnson, perhaps not such a great guy Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Players returned to practice yesterday (John Fox, photos, more photos) for the first time following the preseason opener.

Keith Brooking put on the pads for the first time since he signed on Monday, and even got into a scuffle with center J.D. Walton. The fifteenth-year veteran worked at the Will linebacker spot and is also expected to work at the Mike. Brooking says he needs to improve his familiarity with Denver's defensive scheme, and that he expects to be something of a mentor to the younger linebackers.

CB Tracy Porter strained an ab muscle, while LB Danny Trevathan (ankle), FB Chris Gronkowski (groin) sat out due to injuries from Thursday. T Ryan Harris (ankle) and DT Justin Bannan (calf) did not play Thursday or practice yesterday.

Ronnie Hillman returned to full-fledged action following his hamstring injury; fellow running back Xavier Omon and LB Wesley Woodyard excelled. So did S Rahim Moore, and Chris Harris appears to be holding onto his nickel corner role.

The team held a walkthrough in the evening and will have another day off today.

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A Second Helping of Danny Trevathan vs the Bears

The Broncos have just capped off a seven-play, 52-yard drive with a Xavier Omon touchdown run to extend their lead to 17-0 over the Bears. After the ensuing kickoff, the Bears have the ball on their own 23-yard line with 6:23 to go in the third quarter of Thursday's preseason opener.

The Bears are arranged in a 21 (regular) ‘I’ formation with the tight end on the offensive left.  The handoff will be going to #25, tailback Armando Allen, who is intended to follow his fullback and hit the closed side (the one with the tight end) of the formation. The fullback is to fake a block to the strong side and then cut back to the weak side for his blocking assignment. The tight end will help double-team the right defensive end along with the left tackle, or take on the safety if he cheats up.

Denver is in one of their 4-3 defensive fronts, this time using the (traditional) Will (Nate Irving, #56) in a two-point stance at the right end of the DL. From Irving, top to bottom, are right defensive end Cyril Obiozor (54), tackles Ben Garland (63) and Sealver Siliga (98), and left defensive end Jamie Blatnick (77). The four defensive linemen and the Will linebacker want to engage with the entire offensive line including the TE, unless he releases. Irving would take him in that event.

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Broncos weighing Franklin move Lard

Good Morning/Afternoon, Broncos fans! There's been plenty of chatter about the possibility of the Broncos shifting right tackle Orlando Franklin over to guard, and of course, a lot of that took place right here at IAOFM. TJ has been beating that drum since a month after the team drafted the guy, while Ted and Doc have also mentioned the idea of using Franklin to replace Zane Beadles at left guard.

According to Jeff Legwold, the Broncos have indeed pondered a move, although it's not the one-for-one Franklin/Beadles swap. Rather, he says the team is is considering sliding Big O over one spot to Chris Kuper's right guard position, with Kuper likewise moving leftward as the one to replace Beadles.

Of course, the trick here is finding someone good enough to start at right tackle, whether it be Ryan Harris, Chris Clark, or even Beadles. Don't forget - Zane was a tackle at Utah, and his first six starts in the pros came at right tackle when Harris was injured in 2010.

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Eli: Willies were extra wet for ESPN ad

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Back to the Future Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Denver's backups shellacked the Bears' understudies 31-3 (box score, BTV highlights, NFLN highlights, John Fox, Peyton Manning, others) in Chicago last night.

Manning wasn't quite all there - several of his throws fluttered a bit - and his only possession ended with what appeared a poorly-placed throw at the goal line to Brandon Stokley which was tipped and intercepted. FWIW, Stokes claims he ran a poor route on the play, but we'll never know for sure.

But Peyton's legendary footwork, decision-making, and quick release were on full display, and from his postgame comments, it's clear he wasn't so sure a year ago that he'd ever be back in the NFL. Last night was obviously a big deal to Peyton, who we're guessing had as much nervous anticipation for a preseason game as he did for his very first one in 1998.

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Gut Reaction: Preseason Week 1 - Broncos at Bears

They came. They saw. They didn't get injured.  

There was also a little thing called Peyton Manning's return to football.  Other than that, it was just another preseason game.

Excitement reigns in Broncos Country.  The Broncos just destroyed the Chicago Bears in every aspect of the game; their rusty Hall of Fame quarterback is only going to get better; their defense already looks to be a huge upgrade.

Yet, preseason is preseason for good reason.  It means little more than an opportunity for Xavier Omon to heat up message boards all across the nation--for at least a week.

Optimistic? Yes.

Cautiously? More so.

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Open Thread: Preseason Opener 2012

Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Broncos!

PS. We have Peyton MF Manning

Five things you can watch while everyone else is busy talking about Peyton Manning’s arm strength

We get it. The big topic tonight will be the strength of Peyton Manning's arm. Does he have it?  Did he ever lose it?  When will he get it?   

That's fine if all you want is a casual relationship with the Denver Broncos.  But if what you're looking for is a passionate affair--and I'm talking hot, steamy friction--then take your eyes off Manning's member (his arm, dude), and keep your eyes out for a few other things tonight:

Personnel Packages

  • Do the Broncos feature three wide receivers and one tight end? Or do they experiment with a larger package?
  • How often do you see the fullback in the play? Does he function as a tight end?
  • Remember, one way to gauge this is to think of the simple three-number system that goes: RBs-TEs-WRs.  So if you see the Broncos with a tailback, a tight end, and three wideouts, you can simply write it (or say it before the play) as: 113.  Since we're always going to see (generally) two tackles, two guards, a center, and a quarterback, your three numbers will always add up to five.  How the packages are used can provide you some insight into the Broncos' strategy this year.  If you want to use the two-number system, just drop off the last number; it will be implied.  So the example above would be 11 personnel.

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Pregame Limerick: Cutler and Marshall

Nothing beats mocking your opponent in the hours leading up to a game--even if it's only preseason.

Obviously, this week's topic is the Chicago Bears, or as I like to think of them, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. 

Absurd in a word is the pair
of Jay and The Beast in a stare.
The eyes are a lock,
the pattern a mock--
the safety just picks from the air.

Take your shot.  Mocking Jay Cutler never gets old.

And for more limerick fun, check out the entire history of IAOFM's limericks here.

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