The Daily Lard 10-24-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's Monday, which means it's time for another wet towel to dampen all the excitement. I know, a win is a win, right? Especially when you come back from down 15-0 with 5:23 left on the clock to emerge 18-15 in OT (box score), and especially when your QB is making his fourth NFL start, right? Obviously, the ending was exhilirating, improbable and memorable, and if one had flipped on the game at that point they'd think Tim Tebow was an excellent NFL QB - and for those 5:23 of game time, that would be pretty accurate.

But here's the thing - we can't just judge Tim on those two drives. We all witnessed the first 54:37 of the game and Denver's prior 11 possessions, two of which went for more than 16 yards (34 and 54, to be exact). No, the playcalling wasn't good. But Tebow was worse. He was beyond terrible. What kind of calls can you make when your QB is missing wide open targets by 10 yards, or throwing the ball five yards out of bounds with open receivers and no pressure? Not only were the Broncos without a third-down conversion until the fourth quarter, but they were without a single passing first down until more than half of the fourth quarter was gone.

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Gut Reaction: Week 7 - Broncos at Dolphins

Confirmation bias isn't just a river in Egypt.

This week, every Broncos fan will have a legitimate claim to their view.

Does Tim Tebow have what it takes to be the Broncos starting quarterback?

The score says yes.  So do the thousands of Tebowites who skipped church this morning to witness Tebow's 4th-quarter comeback.

But the game plan says no.  John Fox and Mike McCoy called this game like they couldn't trust their quarterback--or their team.  Without an onside kick recovery, an OT turnover, some amazing catches by Demaryius Thomas and Daniel Fells, and a Dolphins team that ran a prevent defense that only prevented them from winning, this game is a loss to a brutally bad team.

The Broncos had fourteen days to create a game plan for the Miami Dolphins.  It was clearly thirteen days too many.  They could have done better by simply letting Tebow use his old Florida playbook and flying in Urban Meyer.  At least they would have converted a 3rd down before the fourth quarter.

This game did nothing to resolve the quarterback issue for the Broncos, but at least it was exciting in the end.  That's more than the Broncos have had in a long time.

(Update & Correction:  The coverage noted in the last two drives was clearly NOT prevent, quarter coverage, it was nickel, deep-zone coverage)

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Open Thread - Sunday Week 7

Enjoy the games, everyone - and Go Broncos!

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Fat Pickins (and Probability) - Week 7

Before I get to this week's picks, let me give you a quick scouting report on the Miami Dolphins.

They try to run.  When that doesn't work, Brandon Marshall tries to push off up the field to get separation.  Call it the bully route.  

It's not been working that well this year.  In fact, it's been a bit clumsy.

Gee, where have I heard that before?

Look for the trend to continue.

Now, on to the picks.

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The Daily Lard 10-23-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know what really grinds my gears? People like Dan Gainor (whom Kiszla quotes extensively in his column today) who say they're rooting for Tim Tebow because he's a "good role model" and a "player whose jersey you can wear and not worry about wanting to burn it tomorrow" because presumably he's not engaging in any scandalous behavior. Right, because most players are involved in scandals? Are the Broncos lacking in role models? What's wrong with Champ Bailey, Brian Dawkins, Elvis Dumervil, Eddie Royal, or Kyle Orton among the notable Denver veterans?

What's even funnier, is that Gainor goes on to say that if whatever criticism is directed at Tebow were instead aimed at a racial minority, there would be quite the backlash. This prompts a simple question. Would folks like Gainor be so interested in Tebow or in extolling his virtues if Tim weren't white?

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The Daily Lard 10-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver is hoping to have Julius Thomas in action tomorrow, although he's listed as questionable. Brian Dawkins, Demaryius Thomas, Eddie Royal and Willis McGahee are all listed as probably and will play.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins are banged up at free safety and are unlikely to have usual starter Reshad Jones (doubtful) and his main backup Chris Clemons (questionable). That leaves Tyrone Culver, who's primarily a special-teams player, and Gerald Alexander (who was just re-signed on Wednesday) to man the position. CB Vontae Davis and TE Will Yeatman are also questionable, while Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush, LB Cameron Wake, RB Daniel Thomas, and CB Nolan Carroll are all listed as probable.

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Digesting the Dolphins

Happy Friday, friends.  I hope you're hungry, because today we're going to munch on some Dolphins that got caught in the nets.  The Broncos travel south to sunny Miami, where they've never won a regular season game.  Since the Dolphins seem hell-bent on winning the Suck for Luck sweepstakes, it's looking like the Broncos will have a solid chance to end that streak.  Can you hear the zealots?  Tebow is the greatest ever!  He did something that no Broncos QB has ever done!

Personally, I'd be happy with continuous improvement from Tebow, and effective overall play.  If the Broncos get that, and if the defense plays like it did in the second half vs. San Diego, I feel pretty good about their chances to improve to 2-4.  If not, there's always next week.  Anyway, let's get on with the show.  As En Vogue once said, Now it's time for a breakdown.

Game Watched: Dolphins at NY Jets (Week 6)

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The Daily Lard 10-21-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Chris Benson previews Sunday's game for PFF, and he's looking forward to seeing what Denver's young wideouts have to offer - he says Demaryius Thomas provides the most potential, and that Eric Decker must prove that he can get open without Brandon Lloyd commanding the attention of opposing defenses. Benson writes that winning the game (for either team) will be a matter of committing to the run and not making big/costly mistakes in the passing game, and he points out that Joe Mays has been very much hit or miss (literally) in run defense. In fact, Mays is among the leaders among inside backers in terms of defensive stops, but he's got a stomach-turning number of whiffed tackles (eight in five games).

Finally, Benson is interested to see how Orlando Franklin fares (along with whatever TE help Denver provides him) in keeping Dolphins pass rusher Cameron Wake away from Tim Tebow, and he considers it another important key to the game.

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STDL: Week 7 - Broncos at Dolphins

Welcome to the 2008 Gators Edition of the Stats That Don't Lie. After all, if the Dolphins are honoring Tim Tebow's championship team as he leads our Broncos into town, then who the hell are we not to do the same? In that light, for just this week we're going to name each category for a key figure from that title team.

Obviously, the context that overlies this Gators edition of STDL is that both teams have new quarterbacks - Tebow making his first start of the season, and Matt Moore making just his second for Miami, if his atrocious performance Monday night even counts. Let's get right to it...

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Sitting at the corner of Randomness and Hindsight Bias

For Jason Campbell last Sunday, it was just another play in a drive in a season in a year in which the Oakland Raiders were back, perhaps all the way back.  The journey had been a tough one, but the Raiders had accumulated enough talent on both sides of the ball to survive the loss of TE Zach Miller.  One of the first steps in the journey had been the signing of Campbell to a free-agent contract in 2010.  At the time, Al Davis had declared that Campbell reminded him of Jim Plunkett.  Davis foresaw great things from Campbell; he said that he knew Campbell wasn't going to let him down.  It was thought that at the end of 2011, Campbell was going to sign a big-money extension with the Raiders if he had made good on his end of Davis' bargain.

Campbell had played well enough to lead the Raiders to a .500 record his first year and was gunning for nothing less than a playoff berth this year.  So with 4:08 remaining in the 2nd quarter and the Raiders up 14-7 on the visiting Cleveland Browns, Campbell was going to do what he'd been doing all along when facing 3rd and long.  He was going to make a play.

The Browns showed blitz and man-to-man coverage with two safeties over the top.  Campbell instantly recognized the play was going to be trouble because all three of his primary receivers were either running a deep post or a deep out.  In essence, his receivers were headed right into the teeth of the coverage.

It took Campbell only a flash to confirm his suspicion,  step up in the pocket, and begin his swift scramble for the sticks just eight yards away...

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