Digesting the Patriots

Happy Friday, friends.  It’s time to Digest the New England Patriots.  This isn’t the same Patriots team that we’re used to, and the Broncos obviously aren’t the same Broncos team that Tom Brady and company are used to losing to, so it should be very interesting.

Off the top, it’s interesting that the Patriots are seven-point favorites on the road against a team that has won six straight games.  I almost never talk about betting lines, because I don’t believe in betting on sports, but this is an interesting bit of narrative psychology to me.  The media has set a narrative around the Broncos such that Joe Six-pack is led to believe that there was some magic happening, and a plucky QB who loves his Jesus was behind it, but just wait until the Tebows play the Bradys.  The Tebows will come back to Earth.  People are betting heavy for the Patriots, obviously, I think because they think in terms of media narratives.

Of course, I think conflating a whole team with its QB is completely stupid.  There’s so much happening on a football field on any play that it’s silly to just focus on who’s throwing the ball.  As always, today, we’re going to explore the rest of the story.

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The Daily Lard 12-16-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! As Dave Krieger points out, John Fox is now the first NFL coach to win three OT games in a single season for two different teams, as his 2003 Panthers played in five extra-session games including one in the playoffs, and winning four of them. Interestingly, Fox's teams have only been to overtime three times in his other eight seasons, and when combined, those '03 Panthers and these '11 Broncos are 7-1 in overtime.

Another crazy set of numbers? Those two squads are a combined 19-10 despite a mediocre minus-12 in point differential. Naturally, a point differential like that would suggest a record more along the lines of 14-15 or 15-14. Luck? Great coaching? Crappy offenses? Conservative coaching? Obviously, it's a combination of all of those. Perhaps at some point we'll take a look at OT coaching records and how they compare to regulation records. OT records will of course provide tiny samples, but it'd be interesting to see if they mirror a coach's overall record as he coaches more OT games.

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Open Thread - Thursday Week 15

Enjoy the game, everyone! Mike Tanier, Matt Bowen and Joe Fortenbaugh analyze the matchup.

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Dawk, Goody practice; McDaniels frontrunner in KC

Brian Dawkins and Andre' Goodman were both back at practice today for Denver, pretty much a prerequisite for the Broncos to have any chance at winning Sunday.

Meanwhile, plenty of news involving old friends - PFW is hearing Josh McDaniels is the current frontrunner to replace Handshake Haley in Kansas City, it appears that Kyle Orton will be starting for the Chiefs on Sunday, and Wade Phillips had surgery on his kidney and gall bladder.

Obviously, McDaniels ending up in KC would be a perpetual fountain of storylines - Denver's most emphatic victory of last season came at the Chiefs' expense and ended in the infamous non-handshake, the rematch in KC three weeks later would be McDaniels' final game as Denver's coach, and of course his pursuit of Matt Cassel led to the trade of Jay Cutler in return for Orton and the draft picks that would eventually be part of Denver acquiring Tim Tebow.

Lastly, this Sam Hurd story is only going to get more and more interesting - not only was Hurd apparently one of the biggest dealers in Chi-town, but the police have a list of fellow NFL players Hurd dealt to.

Wellington Mara and John Fox

Hi, folks. Thanks to some fast repair work on my computer system, I’m able to dictate a little ahead of schedule and I just wanted to share a vignette with you. After the Broncos took over first place in the division with yet another late-game surge, It may help to put the hiring of John Fox and the way the team is coming together into a little more perspective.

You see, with regard to all of the things that people are excited about concerning the Broncos (and most teams), the head coach frequently ranks up there with leftover oatmeal and strep throat. It’s hardly an uncommon feeling in football cities around the league - few cities don’t have groups that publicly dislike the coach, from the many websites I’ve visited, and coaches go from icons to idiots as quickly as Champ Bailey can sneak a hand onto an incoming pass. It just goes with the territory.

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The Daily Lard 12-15-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Woody Paige dumps plenty of blame on Denver's receivers when it comes to not catching Tim Tebow's passes, and he gets pretty creative with it. On one hand the bad throws are supposedly a direct order from John Fox to throw balls in the dirt, and some more fault lies with John Elway for not having helped Tebow much during training camp. So, let's get this straight - Tebow's been playing QB his whole life (despite the narrative being falsely put out there that nobody wanted him to play QB). He came into the league with question marks about his throwing and his accuracy, and he supposedly spent countless hours (remember, nobody works harder) fixing/working on his throwing before being drafted, and then again last offseason (in between selling books and underwear). He has shown those very accuracy problems each and every week, but John Elway has the magic solution and it's just a matter of him not having shared his proprietary secret with Tim?

But back to the receivers, gotta hit them some more - Eric Decker couldn't see Sunday, Demaryius Thomas runs before he catches, and all of them "are just using their hands, not their arms" (huh?), and Woody's double-secret inside source tells him Decker and Thomas are still "learning touch and control" and his other sources say the young receivers simply aren't very good. Oh, and Brandon Lloyd is selfish and was an anonymous source, but who knows what that has to do with this. Tebow wasn't working with the guy in camp anyway, right Woodrow?

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The Daily Lard 12-14-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I was just about to write how fascinating it was that Alex Marvez is the first writer to point to the fact that Mike McCoy worked under Urban Meyer at Utah (How could it be that everyone missed that one?!), but then I realized there are a couple of problems with that. One, McCoy never worked for Utah, only playing for them from 1992 to 1994. Two, Meyer coached there from 2003 to 2004 while McCoy was coaching quarterbacks for John Fox with the Panthers. Marvez also points out that Tim Tebow threw a pick-six against Detroit but ignores/forgets that a fumble by Tim was returned for a score too. Man, where does Marvez get his facts from? The latter omission is easily excused, but to link McCoy and Meyer after apparently interviewing McCoy in depth is just mind-blowing. Well, he does work for FOX where quality journalism isn't exactly the highest of priorities.

Anyway, the rest of the article is pretty interesting as it talks about McCoy watching college film for inspiration to help him add wrinkles to the Denver offense, and he has apparently consulted with Demaryius Thomas, who played his college ball in Georgia Tech's triple-option offense. At least, that's what Marvez says. It's not a direct quote, which it would appear are the only things we can totally trust are accurate from Marvez, our latest inductee to the Hall of Hackery.

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Broncos promote Carter, waive McCarthy and Domino

Denver has promoted CB Tony Carter from their practice squad and waived S Kyle McCarthy to create room for him. Carter's promotion would appear to signal that the concussion Andre' Goodman suffered on Sunday is likely to keep him out of action this week against the Pats. The team also waived/injured Derek of the Dominos.

Meanwhile, congratulations are due Matt Prater, who was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his 59-yard game knotter and 51-yard winner.

In ex-Broncos news, 2009 draftees Darcel McBath and Richard Quinn finally caught on with new teams - Jacksonville and Washington, respectively.

Why Tim Tebow is better in the 4th Quarter

Happy Tuesday, friends.  I’ve had some unexpected professional challenges/opportunities come up that have had me working day and night lately, while simultaneously finishing a semester up in my MBA program, and it’s briefly messed up my writing schedule.  I’m sorry I wasn’t able to deliver a Digesting article on Friday, but I’m optimistic about doing one for this week. 

For today, I’m going short blog-post style, on a topic that seems to be flummoxing the whole football watching world.  Why is Tim Tebow so much better in the 4th quarter of games?  I know the answer to this question, and I’m going to share it with you today.  It’s a matter of seeing the forest through the trees, and looking back to Tebow’s time at Florida to understand the phenomenon.

First, let’s start with a thought exercise.  Based on Tebow’s skill set, what’s the best approach that the Broncos can take to being successful on offense?  Consider personnel groupings, play-calling, and overall philosophy.  Really consider this, and get the answer in your head.

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The Daily Lard 12-13-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In reviewing Sunday's win for PFF, Trey Cunningham says it appears Tim Tebow "is continuing to mature as an NFL quarterback," and he says Tim's TD pass to Demaryius Thomas was an impressive play (it was, especially since Tebow was moving to his right at the time of the throw). He also points out that it was Tebow's first second multi-turnover game of the season, not necessarily a huge mark against him considering the Bears' penchant for taking the ball away.

As for the O-line, only Zane Beadles came away with a positive score in pass protection, and as Cunningham states, if not for Tebow's athleticism he likely would have been hit more and sacked more than the five times he was. Oh yeah, and of course there's praise for the defense, especially Von Miller and Brodrick Bunkley.

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