The Daily Lard 12-4-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As distant and microscopic a possibility playoff contention had appeared just a few weeks back, Denver has a chance to move into a tie for first place in the AFC West today with a victory in Minnesota combined with an Oakland loss at Miami. Key to the Broncos' chances will be the status of Von Miller, who had surgery on Tuesday to repair torn thumb ligaments and will be a game-time decision. But even if he does play, he'll be wearing a cast on his right hand and will likely cede a good deal of playing time to Mario Haggan.

For those of you clamoring for Tebow's pass/run data combined, stay tuned...

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If you’re gonna tackle Tebow, you better pack your lunch

Former Florida stars Tebow and Harvin face off
lacrossetribune.com

“I’m not sure,’’ Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson said, asked why the Broncos are thriving with an offense that’s not supposed to work. “I was one of those guys that said the same thing, just because of the amount of time your quarterback is going to get hit. But maybe they’re successful because of the durability of Tebow, him being a bigger guy and having a running back size compared to a normal quarterback.’‘

At 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, Tebow packs a punch, and he’s faster than a fullback. He ran the ball 22 times last week in a win over San Diego, the most in a game by an NFL quarterback since 1950. Sanford said he thought he was done defending the option when he left college.

“He’s strong, really one of strongest guys I’ve ever come across, especially at quarterback,’’ [Jamarca] Sanford said. “He’s really like a tailback. When you come to tackle him, you better pack your lunch.’‘

You might consider bringing your hard hat and steel toe boots, too, son.

ESPN masters the obvious: beat Tebow by scoring on the Broncos’ defense

How to beat the Broncos
insider.espn.go.com

The Broncos are also winning with Tebow posting a Total QBR of 34.6 (31st in the league). However, it’s fair to note that while QBR does account for a quarterback’s running ability, it doesn’t account for the return of the option quarterback. The option hadn’t been seen in the NFL for decades and is even being phased out in college football. But the Broncos are running it and Tebow is making it work.

According to our video analysis team, up to this point, the Broncos’ option is working at a rate of about 55 percent, a rate far exceeding that of normal rushing plays around the league (about 44 percent), and an enormous jump on the Broncos’ running success rate when not using the option (about 36 percent). Given that Tebow has to make the quick decisions on what to do with the ball, he deserves some credit for this that QBR is currently not giving him.

You'll need an ESPN Insider subscription to access this article, but if you don't have one, let me summarize Dean Oliver's earth-shattering game plan for beating the Broncos:

  1. Score on the Broncos' amazing defense
  2. Use play-action passes
  3. If you get a lead, don't go Marty Schottenheimer
  4. Play Cover 2 with the safeties and spy Tebow
  5. Don't overload the box in running situations; the Broncos are being deceptive.

Oliver does offer another fact that doesn't constitute a strategy, but is interesting (and obvious if one has been paying attention)--namely, that the Broncos have been trying to trick opponents by showing 3-wide receiver sets when they are, in fact, going to run the football.   Of course they have, my dear Oliver.  It's simply another way of forcing the defense to use a defensive back against a 245-pound quarterback who loves to truck guys smaller than him.

Fortunately for the Broncos, Oliver's plan is not not easily executed unless you're the Green Bay Packers. Six teams have tried.  Five teams have failed. Something is working.  The last time I remember reading articles like this, it was 1998.

The Daily Lard 12-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I know some of you are probably exhausted by the Tebow/stats talk, but in the comments of yesterday's Lard, reader DavidinLA shared a link to a Mark Kriegel column about those very topics, and I think it's worthy of some discussion. If nothing else, I'd like to share my opinion of stats and writing about them in general.

My first reaction to Kriegel's column is that a red flag goes up for me anytime a sports columnist who rarely or never mention stats in their typical writing decides to suddenly cite them because they happen to support his/her viewpoint. In this case, Kriegel sought out some stats to prove his point, which is the worst mindset from which to turn to stats - when you set out to prove something via stats, you are going to have blinders on, and you're going to get someone to feed you some line of crap, because damnit you've got a deadline to meet and a premise to bolster.

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Why even call it Denver anymore?

NFL.com Is Still Calling The Broncos The "Denver Tebows"
deadspin.com

The “fast-charging Denver Tebows” are still “in the hunt” for a Wild Card spot, according to NFL.com. I’d prefer the Denver Not Kyle Ortons, but that’s just me.

Miller to be game-time decision; Peterson out for Vikes

Von Miller was a limited participant in practice Friday and will be a game-time decision for Sunday's matchup in Minnesota. Eddie Royal and Willis McGahee also practiced.

Update 2:19pm ET - Miller and Royal are listed as questionable for Sunday, while McGahee, Ryan Clady, Daniel Fells, and David Bruton are probable. In equally big news (if not bigger), Adrian Peterson is listed as out for Minnesota, Percy Harvin did not practice due to illness but is expected to play, as are LB E.J. Henderson, G Anthony Herrera and TE Kyle Rudolph, and CB Asher Allen is questionable.

Digesting the Vikings

Happy Friday, friends.  It’s time to Digest the Minnesota Vikings, who despite their 2-9 record have a bit of power behind their punches, and can knock you out if you don’t come correct.  They’re lining up to have a very high draft pick in 2012, and I think that they can have a pretty quick turnaround in 2012 assuming they pick wisely, and their young QB improves.  For now, though, let’s take a look at them in their current state.

Generally, I’d say that the Vikings profile kind of similarly to the Broncos in some important ways.  To wit:

a.  Both teams start young QBs who can look good one play and bad the next.

b.  Both teams struggle to protect the passer in the straight-up dropback passing game, but both can get the running game blocked a lot of the time.

c.  Both teams can rush the passer creditably from both edges, although the Vikings’ second-best guy (Brian Robison) is not really close to the Broncos’ (Elvis Dumervil) level.

d.  Both teams have a good set of DTs who stuff the run well, and both teams’ LB corps are better against the run than in coverage.

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Lombardi: Tebow is wearing opponents down in Denver

Eagles must change, beginning with Reid; Week 13 notes
www.nfl.com

One of the elements of Tim Tebow’s game that goes unnoticed is that when he plays at home in the Mile High City, the altitude affects the opponents after spending three quarters chasing Tebow around. John Elway would wear out his opponents with his ability to move around, and Tebow does the same. They have different styles but the results are the same—defenses get tired.

Mike Silver has accepted that Tim Tebow just wins

Talking Tebow, spiraling Eagles and big awards
sports.yahoo.com

If you’re wondering whether others have similarly skeptical beliefs about Tebow – yes, they do: Others being virtually every player, coach and talent evaluator I’ve spoken to over the past month-and-a-half. And you know what? None of that matters. The running game’s working, the defense is playing lights out and Tebow is winning. And opponents are starting to get affected, too, simultaneously playing scared and overextending, like a talented tennis player getting mentally undone by an opponent who’s just pushing the ball back and trying not to make mistakes. Never mind that Tebow, by all objective standards, is terrible at throwing the ball, or that his success makes no rational sense: I’m over it. I’ve accepted the fact that it just works, somehow, and it doesn’t seem like the madness will stop anytime soon.

I know what some of you are wondering, but I just can't answer that right now...

Schefter: Tebow makes history weekly

Tim Tebow is history in the making
espn.go.com

He is a phenomenon. Since taking over as the Broncos’ starting quarterback, he has given both his critics and his supporters the evidence they need. What’s undeniable is that in each game he has started and won, he has accomplished historic quarterback feats…Tebow is entertaining, captivating, polarizing. But nearly every week, he’s also history.

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