The Daily Lard 3-29-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Elway provided some insight into how the Denver and Manning offenses will be melded, and what he said wasn't much of a surprise: Peyton will get to use the verbiage he's familiar with when making calls at the line.

Obviously, this will require all of his new teammates to adjust to him rather than vice versa, but it makes sense. Since the players cannot work out at Dove Valley or under coaches' supervision, they can get to learning right away, and since Manning is already organizing workouts, there's a good chance they've already started the process.

Besides, they probably all forgot what it's like to change a play at the line anyway...so what's the difference?

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Scouting the Draft: 2012 Defensive backs

I recently rewatched the Combine film from Indy to study the DB tests and drills again. Combine can be overrated, but there’s an aspect to the live views of players that’s very helpful to a guy like me who makes part of his living doing and teaching postural analysis. It comes into evaluating players - usually ones that i’ve seen before, but if not, it helps me to understand what’s being said about them and to look for those tendencies, even on highlight film (which is often terrible).

I enjoyed watching the various players through the drills - not as much the tests, although I always like getting a greater feel for the players’ posture, and build - before I went back for a second and third look purely out of the pleasure of it. Although I strongly agree with those that feel the Combine tests are often heavily overweighted, the opportunity to do some analysis of why you see the things that pop out on film of the drill segment is one that I don’t get all that often.

Say, for example, that you have a player who has problems in his backpedal. On your average broadcast film, the back end of the field is out of the frame more often than not. I get to see the guy as the snap occurs (usually), then there’s generally a point where they don’t show anything on the defensive backfield until the pass is thrown or the runner breaks into the second level.

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Stokley may yet return Lard 3-28-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver is reportedly among several teams to have shown interest in Bears DT Amobi Okoye, the remarkable young man who graduated from Louisville at 19 years old before the Texans drafted him 10th overall in 2007.

Meanwhile, the team may end up bringing back WR Brandon Stokley as had been rumored shortly after Denver signed Peyton Manning. DT Marcus Thomas is apparently choosing between the Broncos and two other teams, and Denver is also trying to re-sign DE Jason Hunter.

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Was Manning’s velocity waning even before the injury?

Today's article from Albert Breer may give Broncos fans pause.  Breer suggests that the velocity on Peyton Manning's throws was already in decline during 2010--before his neck injury. Breer writes:

"The fall-off was significant on film," said one scout from a rival AFC team. "He showed stiffness and lost athletic traits. What made him special was never his athletic ability or movement skills, but you could see it with his arm strength, too. We break the field into 'short', 'intermediate' and 'deep', and on patterns deep and outside the numbers, you'd notice more air under the ball. There'd be more arc. Some it's by design, placing the ball where it needs to be. But it looked like his velocity was tailing off at the end of 2010. That's probably what he's most worried about. His rotation was fine, his accuracy was fine. But as far as the ball getting from Point A to Point B, and how much time he was giving defensive backs to drive on the football, there was enough there for concern."

The questions about Manning's arm strength go all the way back to the day he was drafted (Ryan Leaf had a stronger arm, after all).  However, was it possible that in 2010, Manning had lost too much zip on his passes?  The statistics certainly suggest as much.  His Y/A, AY/A, NY/A, and ANY/A were all down by a full yard. At the same time, guys like Blair White, Pierre Garcon (which I believe means "dropped pass" in French), and Austin Collie weren't helping Manning's cause.  And we saw what happened to the Colts in 2011 without Manning: they went down like they'd been shot by a sniper. 

Manning has had other seasons with lower numbers than he had in 2010.  So what is one to make of all of this?

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Fat Camp: Understanding the Manning offense - Part 2

Happy Tuesday, friends, and welcome back to Fat Camp.  Today, as part of the ongoing series covering the Manning offense, I’ve decided to do some work on identification concepts that Peyton will use in diagnosing the defense and getting the Broncos into the right play.  Most of this stuff is standard across all teams, and all offenses, but it’s so important to what we’ll see from the Broncos that it deserves a couple thousand words and prominent placement on a football Tuesday.

If you missed Part 1 from Saturday, here’s the link:

Part 1 – Basics – Formations, Personnel Groupings, and Fit of Existing Personnel

Have you ever watched a football game and wondered what the QB is doing at the line of scrimmage?  He says some stuff and looks at things, and then the play happens.  Today, I aim to demonstrate, through the liberal use of diagrams, what Mr. Manning will be looking at, and what it means he will/should set the play as.  Exciting, huh?  (Yes, I just used the word liberal – I wonder if I’ll be accused of making this a political pontification?  Probably.)

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2012 Draft order finalized

Having awarded 32 compensatory picks yesterday, the NFL announced the finalized order for the 2012 Draft, which begins with the first round on Thursday, April 26 at 8 pm ET. The second and third rounds will be held the next night starting at 7 pm, while rounds four through seven will begin at noon that Saturday.

Denver currently has seven picks as follows:

Round Pick (Overall) Note Round Pick (Overall) Note
1 25 (25)   4 25 (120)  
2 25 (57)   5 2 (137) via STL (Brandon Lloyd)
3 25 (87)   6 18 (188) via NYJ (Tebow)
4 13 (108) via NYJ (Tim Tebow)      

Denver's own 5th-rounder went to Cleveland in the Peyton Hillis/Brady Quinn deal, their 6th-rounder to Philly in the J.J. Arrington/Joe Mays trade, and their 7th-rounder went to the Jets in the Tebow swap.

Broncos may open vs Steelers on SNF Lard 3-27-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The NFL's annual league meetings got off to a busy start yesterday:

  • 32 compensatory picks were dispensed among 15 teams; Oakland's depleted arsenal was replenished with third-, fourth-, and fifth-round picks, while the Chargers got a seven.
  • Saints owner Tom Benson addressed his peers about the bounty scandal
  • Sean Payton is in attendance, and he's spoken with his old boss Bill Parcells about taking his place coaching the Saints while Payton is suspended. Parcells, reprising his role as the original Brett Favre, says he doesn't think he wants to coach again, probably because doing so might delay his HOF induction. Tuna will meet with Payton and GM Mickey Loomis today.
  • The Commish says he'd allow Payton to coach during a potential appeal, and the team is permitted to hire an outsider to stand in for Payton. Goodell appears most upset about the Saints trying to cover up their bounty system, and he says the league has several sources, none of them named Jeremy Shockey.

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Times-Union: Broncos shopped Tebow during Combine

It appears that our suspicions were right all along--the Broncos sought a cure for Tebowmania sooner than we were told.

According to Tania Gangiuli of the Florida Times-Union, Denver started shopping Tebow during last month's pre-draft Combine:

The Broncos began quietly shopping the quarterback at the NFL scouting combine in February. When the Broncos became the frontrunners to acquire former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. Tebow’s days in Denver seemed numbered.

The narrative that kept the kids nestled comfortably and sleeping peacefully in their beds all over Broncos Country--namely, that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get Peyton Manning and that the Broncos were more than comfortable to go into 2012 with Tebow as their starter--was, apparently, a spoonful of sugar fed to Tebowmaniacs to help the medicine go down.

The aftertaste? Bitter.

(h/t: LBS)

Scouting the Draft: 2012 Linebackers

Perhaps the best linebacker-specific quote I’ve ever heard came from Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher:

I always say this: running backs and linebackers are very easy to recruit. When you hand them the ball and watch them, and you have to tell him where to run and what's going on, he's not a running back. If he's a linebacker and he's standing around the pile, he's not a linebacker. If he's at the bottom of the pile, he's a linebacker.”

I think that pretty much covers it. I want the guys who you find at the bottom of pile after pile. They generally have that only-slightly-controlled insanity that a top LB, particularly a middle linebacker, tends to carry, and finding them at the bottom of the pile tends to mean that they either made or helped make the tackle, or they've stolen the ball.

It’s official - according to the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective, there is no correlation between Combine tests or drills and success in the NFL. This is not news to me. The drills give me a chance to look at postures - how do they set their feet? Do they drop their hips easily on the backpedal? Smoothness? Power? The tests - the 40, three-cone and so forth - can confirm what you see on film, and they can sometimes give a marginal player’s scouts a reason to review his film, but they don’t prove much about future success. I list them for what they do or do not confirm, not what they predict.

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Winning Super Bowls is difficult Lard 3-26-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Dave Anderson finds it notable that Peyton Manning would join only Norm Van Brocklin (pre-SB era) as a great QB to win a title after a late-career team switch, if he wins one in Denver.

We're going to be subjected to a lot of this stuff going forward, for however long Peyton plays in Denver (unless, of course, he wins one).

But really, the list of championship quarterbacks is pretty short to begin with (29 different SB winners), and the tally of guys who led their team to a SB title at 36 or older is obviously shorter (John Elway, Johnny Unitas, Jim Plunkett). And as we can see from Anderson's column, the list of great QBs who switched teams during the autumn of their NFL time is quite brief to begin with. Teams tend to hang onto great QBs, unless they are the rare organization like the Niners or Packers with a great replacement on tap like Steve Young or Aaron Rodgers.

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