Digesting the Raiders

Happy Friday, friends.  Today, since the Broncos have already played the Raiders this season, we’re going to leverage the article I wrote before that game, and I’ll focus on where things have changed between then and now.  Then, we’ll talk about how the Broncos can work toward a better outcome this time than the 23-20 opening night loss they took at home.

We all hate the Raiders, and they hate us too, but it seems that they’ve built the sort of team that has been giving the Broncos trouble over the last couple seasons.  They’re big, physical and fast, and those are three good things to be as a football team. Luckily, they're still the Raiders, and they still make dumb trades, so we have that going for us.

Continue reading "Digesting the Raiders"

The Daily Lard 11-4-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Chris Benson previews Sunday's matchup in Oakland for PFF, and he writes that it's something of a must-win for both teams, as the loser will surely be faced with big questions about its QB in the aftermath. Will Denver stick with Tim Tebow if he doesn't show progress? Did the Raiders overpay for Carson Palmer? Benson also speculates that a loss for Denver could mean a shakeup in the starting lineup, and it's a fair point.

Benson says Oakland's fans likely won't be long on patience for their new QB given the ransom they gave up to acquire him, although he figures Palmer should do well against a pass defense that has struggled for almost the whole season. Unfortunately, Sunday has the potential to be another brutal day for Orlando Franklin, whose assignment will be to fend off yet another top pass rusher - this time LB Kamerion Wimbley, whom he was not able to contain in the opener (six hurries).

Finally, Benson theorizes that the reason for Tebow's success as a starter last year and apparent regression this season is partly a matter of opposing teams having a better idea of how to game plan him - playing him less like a passing threat and focusing more upon keeping him in the pocket. So, can the Broncos manage to run the ball efficiently if they're facing 8 or 9 men in the box? Will Tebow be able to make some throws against man coverage and soften up the Oakland defense? If not, it will be another long Sunday...

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 11-4-11"

STDL: Week 9 - Broncos at Raiders

Welcome to the Al Davis Memorial Edition of the Stats That Don't Lie. Being that this Sunday will mark the first matchup between the Broncos and their fiercest rivals* since the passing of The Crypt Keeper, I thought it appropriate to honor some of Big Al's finest personnel moves with today's STDL.

As for the game, this is not much of a rematch from the MNF opener, as both teams have new QBs (neither of whom has played as well as the guy they replaced, although it's early) and the Raiders will likely be without their best offensive player, RB Darren McFadden. DMC has 510 yards from scrimmage in the teams' last three matchups, helping turn both 2010 meetings into blowouts. Hopefully the absence of McFadden and the newness of Carson Palmer to Oakland helps narrow the gap between these two teams:

* If you think it's the Chargers, ask your dad or older brother

Continue reading "STDL: Week 9 - Broncos at Raiders"

Defending Tebow (just a little)

I find myself in a strange place today. I'm going to speak in defense of Tim Tebow.

It's an interesting time in Broncos history. I can't remember a time when a Broncos player--in a matter of one week--has gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Tim Tebow was a polarizing figure to begin with, but his performance against the Lions last week seemed to give every Tebow critic the opportunity to jump into the arena.

As an OG of Tebow critics, my personal space was being violated. Every analyst in the entire world, outside of Mike Lombardi, said Tebow regressed from the week before in Miami. John Elway's assessment was only slightly better. He said Tebow simply hadn't improved.

It was suddenly safe to come out of the closet; declaring oneself openly anti-Tebow was cool.

The worst of these criticisms went something like this: Tim Tebow is the dumbest quarterback in the league and reads a defense like a high-school quarterback.

This sort of criticism seems particularly brutal; it strikes me as piling on.  I also believe it's wrong.

Continue reading "Defending Tebow (just a little)"

The Daily Lard 11-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Quinton Carter, Virgil Green and Cassius Vaughn did not practice yesterday, while Willis McGahee and Orlando Franklin were limited. John Fox says McGahee will only play Sunday if he's able to use both of his hands effectively.

Out in Oakland, RB Darren McFadden is still on crutches and in a walking boot, so don't expect him to play Sunday; rather, Denver can figure upon seeing a steady diet of Michael Bush, a RB many Broncos fans had hoped the team would acquire via FA. Also not practicing were LB Rolando McClain, K Sebastian Janikowski, and CBs Chris Johnson and Chimdi Chekwa. Janikowski is expected to play, and his replacement against KC, Dave Rayner, is no longer on the team's roster.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 11-3-11"

Tebow hatred spawns comedy gold

Tebowing was fun for about zero five minutes. There's a new, more creative and at all more entertaining Tebow meme, and it's taking place over at ESPN.com in the comments section of Bill Williamson's post-Tebow column from Sunday night. You see, the media lovefest for Tebow was bound to create a massive backlash, and here it is, in the form of the equation X > Tebow, where X = wherever your funny bone wants to take it. (h/t Deadspin) A few gems:

Gigli > Tebow
sharting > Tebow
Leonard Nimoy's scrotum > Tebow
planking > Tebow

Fattening Up on Chris Kuper

Nothing like getting millions of viewers sure that your roster is thinner than Karen Carpenter, is there? That was a full team effort on Sunday - nearly everyone played a role in how badly it went. That said, let’s start with a fun fact or two:

Going into the game against the Lions, none of Denver’s TEs had dropped a pass so far this year. Daniel Fells had been targeted 18 times, but only 11 of those were considered catchable, and Fells had caught all 11. That’s being consistent:  Fells is looking more and more like a serious find. Add Julius Thomas’ pass catching to the mix (and keeping him healthy, although he had a drop against Detroit to break the TEs' streak) and you’ve got a very good starting two. Virgil Green has gone from a seventh-round afterthought to a key player late in the Miami game and may be that much needed third TE - I hope his injury isn’t severe, because he has been the better blocking TE. The TEs as a group have now caught 19 passes with just the one drop. That says a lot of good things about consistency and the talent of the squad. Denver has some good young talent, of which Fells in just his fourth season out of UC-Davis and Dante Rosario in his fifth year out of Oregon are the 'old men' of the group.

Continue reading "Fattening Up on Chris Kuper"

The Daily Lard 11-2-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Greg Gabriel believes it's pretty much time to move Tim Tebow to another position, if not now than sooner than later. Gabriel says that Tebow was blessed in his Florida career to have arguably the best players in the country surrounding him, and that with the offensive scheme, line and skill players at his disposal, Tim was bound to be successful there. A quick glance at Tebow's 2008 BCS Title team shows NFL starters Cam Newton, the Pouncey twins, Aaron Hernandez, David Nelson, Percy Harvin, Carlos Dunlap, Joe Haden, Brandon Spikes, and Major Wright, plus lesser NFL lights (but still in the league) Louis Murphy, Riley Cooper and Ahmad Black, among others. Gabriel states that this vast talent supply helped Tebow get away with his poor mechanics, and he writes:

He does not read defenses well, he lacks accuracy and he is too impatient to let plays develop. All things that are needed to be a good NFL quarterback. Denver has adjusted its offense to try and call plays to Tebow’s strengths, using the shotgun more and having some run/pass options.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 11-2-11"

When the circus leaves town, what’s left?

Happy Tuesday, friends.  I re-watched the Lions-Broncos game on Monday night, and then I started feeling ill.  I’m not saying that one thing caused the other, but a case could definitely be made that it did.  Anyway, I normally write my 5,000ish word articles on Monday night, and that fits into a very tightly scheduled week that has no slack in it.  (People sometimes ask how I fit my writing here in with my day job and my MBA program – that’s how; schedule the hell out of it, and stay on schedule.) 

Because I ended up going to sleep pretty early on Monday night and had nothing substantial written, I’m up early on Tuesday morning before work to deliver something.  (I’m feeling better now.)  It’s not going to be the typical YGS, but something is better than nothing, right?

I’ve decided that TJ is right, and I’m not going to fight it anymore.  It’s not about football evaluation, it’s about recognizing an organizational decision.  Tim Tebow won’t be the starting QB of the Denver Broncos next season, and I’m okay with that.  As I’ve said a number of times, I’ve always been okay with that, even if I don’t find it preferable.

Continue reading "When the circus leaves town, what’s left?"

The Daily Lard 11-1-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Thankfully, we don't have to bother speculating on who will play QB on Sunday, because John Fox confirmed it will be Tim Tebow, although he didn't commit beyond that.

Meanwhile, Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports' Eye on Football reviews all of Tebow's throws, and he writes,

Tebow continues to struggle with identifying coverages, going through his progressions, and getting the ball out of his hands on time. Couple that with average arm strength, poor mechanics and inaccuracy issues, and you get a lot of bad football.

Wilson has apparently been doing this all year long for Tebow including the preseason; here is his analysis of Tebow's first start in Miami.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 11-1-11"