What’s so offal about talking Cutler and Tebow? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team released its official training camp schedule yesterday; as expected, it will kick off a month from today at Dove Valley.

This means we're facing the dead zone for NFL news, which in turn means the Lard is going to have a whole lot of obscure stories, with plenty of them focused on old/former friends.

Now, we have some readers who are dead tired of reading about Timmy Tebow and my opinion of the punt protector. Others wonder why we're still bothering with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, and some never tire of discussing Kyle Orton and his 12-21 record in Denver. Some have such disdain for NFL players that we can't help but wonder why they bother to watch at all.

To this end, and thanks to a suggestion from reader @wyoeng, we're going to devote a new section of the Lard to ex-Broncos, and as per reader @schmendrick12, it will be dubbed Offal. For those unfamiliar with the term, offal (pronounced like awful) refers to the delicious organs of an animal which most Americans probably think are disgusting, and you do know what goes into your hot dogs, right? Offal includes all sorts of tasty stuff including brains, hearts, livers, kidneys, tripe, and of course, testicles.

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Notes on Denver’s OTAs and Derek Wolfe

With OTAs behind them, the Broncos are off until the two-a-days of training camp start on July 25. Plenty of what emerged from OTAs is worth noting:

Peyton Manning isn’t at full strength yet, which is somewhat terrifying if you’re on the defense. He certainly didn’t have much trouble finding his rhythm or accuracy. Second-round pick Brock Osweiler got high marks from onlookers such as Cecil Lammey in terms of his improvement since the winter, and quarterbacks coach Adam Gase commented on his innate leadership, grasp of the playbook, and even-minded approach to the situation.

Sixth-rounder Danny Trevathan scored some immediate points by absorbing the playbook like a human sponge - the coaches looked at that coupled with his ability to move, and quickly put him with the first team nickel package at Will linebacker. With D.J. Williams’s still challenging his six-game suspension for ‘non-human urine’ in his urinalysis, plus a DUI trial yet to be dealt with, Danny will be fighting against Nate Irving and Wesley Woodyard for game reps at weakside linebacker.

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No Denver offer for LDT Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Naturally, Doug Farrar is among those celebrating the forthcoming availability of All-22 film, and he details its immense value with an example from the most recent Super Bowl.

Unlike the handwringing provincialism of folks like Charley Casserly, Farrar acknowledges that simply having access to All-22 film will not be the same as understanding what is actually going on, but he makes the astute point that there will be people who take the time to study, and those who won't.

This cannot be stressed enough. There's all this talk of more misinformation being out there, and that just doesn't make sense. Bad info tends to come from the same sources. What, so Adam Schein will tell us some guy blew a coverage assignment and everyone will take his word for it? The people who already get their misinformation from Schein will still be getting their misinformation from Schein. Those who choose to get their insight from Farrar, Mike Tanier, Chris Brown, Doc, TJ, and Ted, will still be getting their insight from Farrar, Mike Tanier, Chris Brown, Doc, TJ, and Ted.

Farrar also calls for players and coaches to supplement the visual gold mine by speaking openly about what they are/were trying to accomplish on the field, thus helping us confirm or upend what we'll have seen on film.

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Same old BMarsh Lard

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! From Chicago Tribune writer Jared Hopkins comes a lengthy, detailed profile of old friend Brandon Marshall, who was traded to the Bears and reunited with his pal Jay Cutler earlier this offseason.

It's a unique story, in that Hopkins began his research by speaking with relatives and friends of Brandon's in his hometown Pittsburgh, prompting a call from Marshall himself, along with an invitation into his current home in Florida. Hopkins then spends a few days at Marshall's mansion, observing Brandon's relationship with his wife and hearing about their newfound devotion to Christianity.

Most interesting, if not a surprise, is that Marshall is apparently a lot like his father, a highly successful former high school quarterback whose life has been marked by frequent violence against women. And, despite Marshall and Hopkins spending several days together in close company, Brandon never quite opens up to the reporter, eventually turning on Hopkins after another meeting. In other words, it's a lot of what we've already come to know of Marshall - hard to tell when he's being sincere, if ever, and hard to believe he's actually changed.

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Broncos still have plenty of cap room Lard

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith sent a letter to the Ginger Hammer requesting that the league reopen its investigation of the bounty allegations against the Saints.

In speaking to PFT about the issue, Smith cited "all of the recantations and all of the contradictions" within the league's evidence as reasons to revisit the investigation.

Meanwhile, in an interview on SiriusXM, former Saints LB Scott Fujita said of greeting Goodell at Monday's appeal hearing:

I saw him in the [appeal] hearings and he offered to shake all of our hands. Some of the other players didn't, but I went ahead and shook his hand, and I just said to him, 'What the hell are you doing, Roger?' He had nothing to say. His face sure turned red, though.

Oddly, NFL general counsel Jeff Pash tells Mike Florio the league never issues discipline based upon the intent of players. Yet, isn't that the whole point of the bounty suspensions?

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The Bartlett Defense: Part 2 - Principles for 100% soundness

Happy Friday, friends.  I am taking a break from packing for my upcoming move to bring you Part 2 of my series about the Bartlett Defense, which I am inventing as I go.  Here is Part 1.

As you see, I set the stage for laying out the strategy and tactics of a defense by beginning with a personnel grouping, one which doesn’t really fit the standard 4-3 or 3-4 convention.  You could call it a 4-2-5, or a 3-3-5, or a 3.5-3.5-4, with the two inside DBs being half-LBs, but the thing is, it doesn’t matter how you identify the positions that each player plays.  It may confuse Pro Bowl voters and idiot reporters, but you can’t really worry about that when you’re trying to design a winning defense.

Today, we’re going to holistically begin to take stock of where an every-down big nickel grouping leaves us in terms of defending the whole football field.  As compares to a more traditional defense, strictly by considering personnel, the Bartlett defense is going to be more effective in covering the downfield passing game, and less effective in stopping the power run game.

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Enough already with the 40+ points meme Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! PFW hears that the arrival of Peyton Manning has allowed John Fox to devote more of his time and energy to the defense, and how many times will that unit be blamed for allowing over 40 points in 2011 games? Let's go over a few points, shall we?

  • Denver first allowed 40+ last year to the Packers, who hung 40+ on five other teams, including the Lions and Saints. There is no shame in getting torched by the Packers, and there was a defensive score among Green Bay's seven TDs.
  • Those Lions put up 45 at SAF@MH, and it was a thrashing for sure. But they also forced three turnovers, two of which went the other way for touchdowns. Detroit also posted 34+ points against six other teams, including Green Bay, San Diego, and Dallas.
  • The two losses to New England included no Patriots defensive scores, but the Broncos did cough up five turnovers in the two games. And, the Patriots averaged 32.1 points per game and scored fewer than 27 points in just three regular season games. Like with Green Bay, giving up a lot of points to New England last year was nothing to be embarrassed about.
  • The 40 points scored by Buffalo included a punt return TD, two defensive scores, and just one offensive touchdown.

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Judge dismisses D.J. Williams’s lawsuit; LB faces suspension

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by D.J. Williams against the league, meaning the Broncos linebacker will likely serve a six-game suspension for having violated the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

The league had accused Williams and former teammate Ryan McBean of submitting non-human urine samples for steroid testing, but the two players had already lost their appeals with the commissioner's office by the time their suspensions were announced in March. Both McBean and Williams had received six-game penalties; McBean settled for a three-game ban and dropped his own lawsuit against the league, but Williams was apparently not offered the same deal.

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154 ex-Broncos among those suing league over concussions

The number of retired players suing the NFL for its handling of head injuries has grown almost daily, to the point where there are now 90 lawsuits pending on behalf of 2,397 league alumni. Until now, it's been a bit difficult to keep track of the ex-Broncos among those seeking damages.

But thanks to the Washington Times, we now have a convenient and sortable table to track the plaintiffs. Among them are 154 former Broncos, including players from all five decades of the team's existence prior to the current one.

The cynical view suggests that some of these players are suing for financial gain. But there are far too many names, some of great fame and magnitude, for this to be solely about a money grab. 

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More holes appear in NFL’s bounty evidence Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Saints bounty scandal took some more strange twists yesterday, as interim head coach Joe Vitt called the commissioner and offered to take a lie detector test to prove he did not offer $5K toward a bounty on Brett Favre.

You'll recall that on Monday when the league released some of its evidence against the Saints, it included a typed transcription of a purported bounty ledger, but strangely omitted the original handwritten notes the transcription was based upon. On this typed transcription of the alleged ledger, one entry reads, "Vitt -- $5,000 QB out pool."

This was the first suggestion of any kind by the league that Vitt had contributed to a bounty pool, and the NFL even acknowledges they never made such an accusation during their investigation. Why? Because apparently they didn't feel these handwritten notes were sufficient evidence to make such a claim.

Naturally, this prompts an obvious question which Mike Florio does raise: if this handwritten evidence is not enough to implicate Vitt as contributing to a bounty pool, why is it being used at all, and why is it deemed sufficient in proving the guilt of others?

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