The Daily Lard 10-11-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! So, it sounds like John Fox will name Tim Tebow the starting quarterback today, because what else can he do? The cat's out of the bag, and Kyle Orton has been terrible. As Andy Benoit sees it, Fox is in a very difficult position, and he writes:

In truth, Fox and his staff know that a gameplan full of quarterback draws and screen passes can work in improvisational fashion, but not against a defense that will have seen it on film and prepared accordingly. This logic won’t register with a lot of Bronco fans. All they know is that Tebow came in and showed grit, had that “It” factor and gave the offense a spark.

He's right. The very same Tebow that played on Sunday is not going to win many NFL games, folks (if any). Sure, we can confirm our biases by citing the QB Rating of someone who threw nine passes (plus one spike) in two quarters of work, or point to the energy of the team and the crowd, but honestly this is what happens anytime a backup QB takes over for someone as unpopular as Orton has become in Denver. Everyone goes nuts, and the result doesn't even matter - because the guy "gave us a chance." Let's just go over what throws Tebow actually made on Sunday...

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Vickerson to IR; FB Quinn Johnson claimed off waivers

The Broncos made a few roster moves today, placing DT Kevin Vickerson on IR with an ankle injury and replacing him on the roster with FB Quinn Johnson, whom they claimed off waivers from the Titans. Denver also waived RB Brandon Minor, who had been on IR. Johnson is a third-year player from LSU who spent his first two NFL seasons with the Packers, who selected him in the fifth round of the 2009 Draft and dealt him to Tennessee in September for an undisclosed draft pick. Johnson has appeared in 24 NFL games including four this year and caught two passes for 17 yards against the Broncos in Week 3.

Meanwhile, John Fox today said there's a "strong likelihood" he'll make an announcement tomorrow regarding the Broncos' QB situation - presumably that Tim Tebow will be the starter going forward. Also, rookie RT Orlando Franklin left the team today to mourn the loss of his younger brother.

Chewing the Fat: Week 5 - Broncos vs Chargers

The IAOFM staff discuss the Denver Broncos' 29-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Denver goes three and out on the first drive of the game

Ted: Marv Albert's toupee looks particularly striking today

TJ: I promise not to beat up Kyle too bad today, at least for one series. Kyle said on the pregame that they were going to run the ball with authority

Doug: Oh yeah? How? Oh, by using 3 tackles apparently

Ted: I think that SD's DL isn't so good this year. Decker needs to catch that pass

TJ: Well, this game could have started better

Doug: Yeah we can't afford to be losing the field position battle so badly - to anyone

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The Daily Lard 10-10-11

Good Morning, and welcome to Confirmation Bias Week, Broncos fans! I know, I know. We finally had something to get excited about and I'm Mr. Wet Towel. But step back from the hyperbole machine - yesterday did not prove that Tim Tebow is going to be a great NFL QB, nor that he's a flat out winner - and that doesn't even consider the fact that Denver actually lost the game, 29-24 (box score). For those hoping to see Tebow fail, the botched snaps from under center and the bounced throws at receivers' feet are likewise not proof that Tebow will not be an NFL success.

It's practically a foregone conclusion that Tebow will be named the starter for the balance of the season, as well he should be. Kyle Orton has clearly played his way out of the starting job, with more turnovers (nine) than touchdowns this year (eight) and a 6.3 YPA which ties him with rookie Blaine Gabbert for 28th in the league. And to be honest, it's better this way - because however Tebow does going forward, there will be no pressure to put Orton back in, and it's such an obvious choice that the locker room will likely support the move fully.

There were some encouraging signs of progress from Tebow yesterday, including a bit more patience in reading his progressions rather than tucking and running at the first sign of trouble or with his first read covered. Let's see if that continues to improve, if his pocket presence becomes a bit less frenetic (he looked nervous yesterday), and if those snap and accuracy problems are softened over the rest of the season and with first-team snaps. We've got eleven games left in the season - let's see what he's got.

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Gut Reaction: Week 5 - Broncos vs Chargers

After five games, I've seen enough.  The Kyle Orton era is over in Denver.

Orton may very well play more games this year as the starting quaterback.  Today, though, things broke bad--really bad.

Today's NFL is about making plays, whether they are scripted or not.  The Broncos simply don't have enough time build the perfect offensive line around Orton so he can become the next Troy Aikman.  They've barely got enough draft picks to fix the defense.

I've said this before: In a vacuum, Kyle Orton is the perfect quarterback.  If he has time to sit in the pocket for four or five seconds, he'll rape and pillage.  Unfortunately, that's not the game of football.  You can't call max protection on each and every play.

The game is messy.  Half of the plays the offensive coordinator calls are going to bust.  In short, the vacuum Kyle Orton needs doesn't exist.  It never will.

It's got nothing to do with Tim Tebow.  Tebow may or may not be the answer.  This is Kyle Orton evaluated against Kyle Orton.

He might be the best quarterback on the roster.  But he's not the quarterback 11 games from now.  He's probably not the quarterback in two weeks.

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Open Thread - Sunday Week 5

Enjoy the games everyone, and Go Broncos!

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The Daily Lard 10-9-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Lindsay Jones and I spoke a few days ago about Denver fans' feelings of empowerment, and she quoted me and linked to IAOFM within her article today. Obviously, we're flattered that Lindsay sought out our opinion - here's what I said, plus some expanded thoughts on the topic:

It seems like fans feel like their voice matters, that it counts, and that it should carry some weight. We don't really see it that way. It's a horrible way to run a team. You can't win games consistently over a long period of time if you operate that way.

The organization’s responsibility is to win as many games as possible, and that requires a long-term plan and vision. Fans tend to take the short view, while teams (businesses) should be less myopic. The moment a team starts “hearing” what the fans want in terms of which players to draft/sign/cut/sit/play, or whom to hire/fire is precisely when their chance of being successful ceases. That's not to say that the Broncos' current management (or any other) is always right, or that the fans are consistently wrong. No owner, general manager, coach, or head of football operations is ever 100% correct, and of course the fans aren't just ignorant dummies either. But we always have to remember that those making the decisions for the Broncos are operating with plenty more information than are any of us, no matter what we think of their ability to process it well. Of course, our goal here at IAOFM is to constantly narrow that knowledge gap by providing you with the best independent analysis of the Broncos anywhere, and we hope we are succeeding. As always, thanks for being here.

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Fat Pickins (and probability) - Week 5

Welcome to yet another week of Fat Pickins, our little experiment in math, the wisdom of crowds, and drunken stupors.

Here we put the weekly picks of Fat Man's finest up against a drunk, a mob, and an idiot.  We'll leave it up to you to determine the latter.

We also mix in some probability and Baxter McLove's stone-cold drunk locks of the week.  If you haven't followed McLove's locks, he's undefeated this season at 8-0.

Before we jump into last week's results and this week's games, let me say that if you wagered hard-earned money on the Broncos game today, I respect you.  At the same time, I think you are certifiably loco.  Or you've got a rich uncle named Joe Ellis.  Perhaps both.

The Broncos have a 50.06% chance to win.

In other words, no one has a clue about this game.

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Fat off the Bone: Week 5 - Chargers

Last week, the Packers did almost everything the scouting report said they would, but the Broncos were powerless to stop them.  Although the Broncos employed the right strategy defensively (playing nickel most of the game), they simply didn't have the horses to stay in the fight.

This week, the Broncos will again be the least talented team on the field; however, their familiarity with the Chargers' scheme and the Chargers' scheme itself should help the Broncos stay in the game.

Before we break down the percentages, remember that the system that Norv Turner uses in San Diego is the same system he's used since the days when he was the offensive coordinator for all the great Dallas Cowboys teams of the 1990s.  Troy Aikman is played by Philip Rivers.  Michael Irvin is now known as Vincent Jackson.  Antonio Gates is Jay Novacek.  At its core, it's a deep spread passing game, in which the quarterback, unlike other systems, reads deep to short.  In other words, Philip Rivers isn't playing around.   If the deep ball is there, he's going to take it.  

Perhaps that's why his career average yards per attempt is 8.0.  In Turner's offense, almost all of the passing plays have a deep option available to Rivers.  The receivers are taught to get as much space as possible between their intermediate and long routes and between their short and intermediate routes.  Rivers rarely uses a three-step drop.  Instead, in Turner's offense, he consistently uses a lot of five- and seven-step drops.  That doesn't mean he takes a lot of sacks, though.  That's because in Turner's offense, which relies on timing, the quarterback is taught to get the ball out quickly.  You've probably heard and read that Philip Rivers has a quick release.  Part of the reason is because he actually does have a quick release.  The other part is because he's expected to get rid of the ball as soon as his back foot hits at the end of his drop.

With this as our backdrop, let's look at how the Chargers attack a 4-3.

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Gut Reaction - Al Davis is gone

My biggest punch line is gone.

Goodbye, Al Davis, we're going to miss you.

Davis died today at the age of 82 at his home, presumably with his middle finger still pointed at the NFL and at Roger Goodell.

If you were hoping for a rosebud moment, keep hoping.  Davis wouldn't give Goodell the pleasure.

That's exactly why Davis was good for the game, of course.  Unlike today's NFL, replete with waves upon waves of lawyers, and a commissioner whose plastic emotions--whether they're reserved for concussions or for passionate fans--are as transparent as bottled water, Davis was a football guy first.

He wore his emotions on his jumpsuit.

Davis used lawyers, but only because he knew that punching Goodell in the face would result in wounds that would heal.

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