Open Thread: Sunday Week 16

Enjoy the games, and Go Broncos, Vikings, and Jaguars!

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Prater still not worth the dough Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! We've been highly critical of John Elway & Co. for having made the strong-legged but inaccurate Matt Prater one of the league's highest paid kickers this season.

After using their franchise tag to retain the restricted free agent last off-season, Denver gave the sixth-year kicker $4.25M in guarantees as part of a four-year, $13M deal. Those guarantees amount to his 2012 compensation, and he's due salaries of $2.5M, $3M, and $3.25M over the next three seasons.

Has Prater lived up to the tag, or the contract? So far, he absolutely has not.

At 23/29 (79.3%) on the season, the UCF alum ranks 26th out of 31 kickers who have attempted at least 15 field goals.

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Open Thread: Saturday Week 16 - Falcons @ Lions

Sam Monson previews the matchup. Enjoy the game!

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Broncos are fumbling less, lucky when they do Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver has gone four weeks without having lost a fumble. In most years, this probably wouldn't be particularly notable.

But in the case of these 2012 Broncos, it's quite a turnaround, given that they had lost at least one fumble in nine of their first ten games, for a total of 13 lost fumbles out of 16. As we had shown after nine games, much of this was a matter of luck, but the team's improved fortunes have not solely been about not losing fumbles - they've also been putting the ball on the ground much less often.

After those 16 fumbles in 10 games, Denver has just three fumbles in its past four games - a poor snap by Dan Koppen against Tampa Bay, a muffed punt by Trindon Holliday at Oakland, and a Holliday fumble on a kickoff last week. The former two were recovered by Denver, while the latter went out of bounds and stayed with the Broncos.

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Taxpayer Santa Claus gives Ralph Wilson and family an early Xmas present

Rockin' around the Christmas tree, at the Christmas party slop.

I love the myth of the free market and the bootstrapping entrepreneur.  Without it, our business schools wouldn't continue to surge with wide-eyed future (and underemployed) alumni donors. I also love it because the narrative is so simple.  It's black and white, really--I did everything, all by myself.  Despite the lessons from behavioral economics and history, the narrative's insistence on oversimplifying complex issues into laissez-faire dogma provides for some great comedic context.

Enter the humor of Bills owner Ralph Wilson.  In 2011, Wilson gave an interview in which he gave this tidy little homespun answer to a question about how much he profits from his ownership of the Buffalo Bills:

I came into this game 50 years ago because I enjoyed the game of pro football. Not to make money.  In those days, everybody was hoping to break even. We lost money for a number of years. I am really not into the game to make money, but I would like to break even or make a little.

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Kuper doubtful with ankle, migraine problems

Broncos starting right guard Chris Kuper again missed practice Friday and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against Cleveland; it would be the third consecutive game he's missed due to injury, and the ninth in total.

According to John Fox, Kuper continues to be hindered by scar tissue in his surgically-repaired ankle, and is also dealing with migraine problems. Manny Ramirez will again start in his place; Peyton Manning has taken just two sacks with Kuper in the lineup, but 19 with Ramirez starting.

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Post-Mayan apocalypse Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Hey, so we're still all here, right?

In lieu of a full STDL column, let's take a quick look at the advanced metrics and where the Broncos and Browns stand:

Denver remains atop Brian Burke's efficiency rankings (third on offense, second on defense), with an 81% probability of beating the Browns and an 86% chance of gaining a first-round bye. Cleveland is 23rd in overall efficiency (25th on offense, 13th on defense).

PFR's Simple Rating System ranks Denver fourth overall (offense second, defense fifth), and Cleveland 25th (28th, 17th (tie)).

The Broncos remain second to the Niners in PFF's grading, but they narrowed the gap a good deal last week. Denver grades out at third on offense, and first on defense, while Cleveland ranks 23rd on offense, 11th on defense, and 17th overall.

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You Got Served: Talking DTs, and dipping our toe in the draft

To answer some questions that were in the comments of today's Lard, the Broncos play a hybrid defense, which is more akin to a 3-4 than it is to a true 4-3.  You can think of it as a 3.5-3.5 if you’d like.  The discussion was around whether the Broncos have featured an adequate interior pass rush from its defensive tackles, and whether the scheme actually calls for them to really rush the passer.

The Broncos use three 300-pounders on their base defensive line, in Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson, and Justin Bannan.  That’s why I say it’s more like a 3-4 than it is like a 4-3, because in the base running scheme, the defense is asking those three players to two-gap, and to effectively control six of the eight gaps.  That’s a challenging task, and the front three for the Broncos has been consistently up to the task this year.

The two edges are manned by SLB Von Miller and open-side DE Elvis Dumervil (or Robert Ayers).  Eight gaps are accounted for by five players, and that allows the ILBs (two from among Wesley Woodyard, Keith Brooking, D.J. Williams, and Danny Trevathan) to read the run play, and flow to the action.  It also allows them to briefly maintain their initial depth, and avoid biting on play action.

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Vick to LOLJets would be more of the same Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's been an especially rough few days for the LOLJets and their QB impersonators; it's only getting worse for their fans. 

Monday night saw Buttfumble commit five more turnovers, including a game-ending bobble that put to rest the team's slim playoff hopes. That brought his two-year giveaway total to an even fifty, the most in the league.

The next day, it was announced that the team's third-string quarterback would take over for the starter, leapfrogging the purported backup. BTW, does that sound familiar?

For his part, the most epic of NFL fizzles says that all he ever wanted was a chance; apparently, the opportunity to prove oneself in practice doesn't count. Adding insult to insult, the UT™ is reportedly single once more.

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Broncos rack up another weekly award - this time, Knowshon

Nine straight wins, all by a touchdown or more. Nine games scoring at least 30 points. Six weekly player honors.

Make that seven.

Knowshon Moreno has been named the AFC's Offensive POW for his 24-touch, 126-yard, one-touchdown effort at Baltimore, which came on the heels of a more prolific 36-touch, 167-yard, one-score performance at Oakland.