Worried about the Broncos’ 2012 schedule? Don’t be.

NFL.com said the Broncos' 2012 schedule "might be the most difficult schedule in NFL history."

Chris Corbellini of Fox Sports wrote that the "Broncos have a brutal slate," while Gregg Rosenthal lamented: "Peyton Manning has an uphill climb to the playoffs."

Finally, The Old Man and the Hyperbole, Woody Paige, wrote:

Hannibal never endured such a demanding march, or October — road games against the Patriots and the Chargers and a home game with the Saints. Guess what? The final eight games are no bargain. The Broncos do get the Bucs and the Browns at home, and conclude the regular season at SAF at Mile High, as they did last year, against those pesky Chiefs. But they must play at Carolina — ever heard of Cam Newton? — and K.C., Oakland and Baltimore.

Woo. I've been covering the Broncos since 1974, and there hasn't been a schedule this grueling in any season since then — or, certainly, before.

This, of course, settles the issue, since 1974 was a watershed year.  It brought us "Jungle Boogie" from Kool and the Gang, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (warning, nightmares will ensue), and Woody Paige, Denver's own cuddly serial killer of football knowledge.

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DirecTV lowers Sunday Ticket pricing

Great news for all of us out-of-town fans - DirecTV has cut prices for its NFL Sunday Ticket package. The Max package, which includes computer and mobile access to game broadcasts, the Red Zone channel, and the 30-minute Short Cuts versions of games, will now cost $299.95, down from the $385 price from 2011. The price for the standard Sunday Ticket package has been slashed 40% from $334.95 to $199.95, and Sunday Ticket will again be offered at no extra charge to new DirecTV subscribers.

The Daily Lard 4-20-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Now that the 2012 schedule has been released, Judy Battista offers a fascinating look at how the schedule makers come up with their final product. And as silly as the leadup to the announcement each year may seem, with talk that the slate may or may not be made public on a certain day, there's apparently good reason for it.

What starts as 14,000 skeds gets narrowed down to 150, and those are painstakingly studied to come up with the best possible schedule, all the while accounting for religious holidays, weather, time zones, baseball playoffs, and even concerts. And that's before they even get to requests made by the teams themselves, nixing lengthy road trips, and trying to keep the TV networks happy.

As Battista tells it, it wasn't Peyton Manning's presence that spurred the league to schedule Denver for five primetime games, as was written by every football writer under the sun this week. Rather, it was Tim Tebow. The SNF opener which will have Denver hosting Pittsburgh in a rematch of their playoff meeting? That was already likely to happen pre-Peyton, and the league was looking to capitalize on Tebow's immense popularity with plenty of night games for the Broncos this season. So, they would have happened anyway - Denver will just have a better chance now of winning those games.

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The Daily Lard 4-19-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! We're only one week away from the start of the 2012 NFL Draft, and that can mean only one thing: it's time to celebrate The Passion of the Legwold.

Legwold kicks off Passion Week by breaking the news that Denver desires an impact player at #25, as opposed to the middling prospects they would normally be after in the first round. He also reiterates that the team has interest in BSU runner Doug Martin and could see them taking Martin at #25 if the top defensive tackles are all gone at that point. In fact, that's exactly what he has them doing in his first-round mock.

As for offensive linemen, The Impassioned One says the team is "giving long looks" to center and guard prospects because Peyton Manning is coming off an injury, not because J.D. Walton and Zane Beadles were pretty terrible last season. And, if Peyton were 100% healthy, they wouldn't want to give him great protection?

Presumably it's Legwold (or, could be Klis) who reviews Denver's 1st-to-3rd-round picks of the past 11 years, incredibly calling Jay Cutler just an "OK" pick, while generously calling Beadles and Walton "Good" picks. Look, Cutler may be a jerk, and we give the guy a ton of grief here, but let's be serious - he is a legitimate starting NFL QB and should remain one for a long time, and he is BY FAR the best QB from that 2006 Draft. To equate the expenditure of resources to select Cutler with those spent for Tebow, and to call Beadles and Walton better values than Jay is pure hackery. Really, it's a complete and utter joke.

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Scouting the Broncos: Tracy Porter on film

Bill Walsh pretty much had it covered, even over 20 years ago. He said this about cornerbacks:

Ideal size: 6-2, 195, but good ones come in all sizes

You would prefer a good-sized cornerback, but fortunately they have come in all sizes. Some of the best coverage men have been extremely small and dwarfed by their wide receivers and still were able to cover because of quickness, explosion and anticipation.

But the great cornerbacks have been able to play a physical game with receivers. They can bump the receiver on the release, but more important go up for a ball and not be overwhelmed or knocked off the pass by the receiver.

Of course, you need quickness and explosion. Full-sprint speed is important, but there have been cornerbacks who have overcome a lack of sprinters' speed and played many years and become Pro Bowl participants. You'd like to think of the cornerback being able to run 40 yards in under 4.5 seconds.

He must be able to do the kinds of things receivers do when they go up for a ball.

My emphasis added. Now, let’s walk through some game film and start seeing who Denver has this year, starting with new CB Tracy Porter.

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The Daily Lard 4-18-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jeff Legwold continues his The Position I'm Writing About Today is a Notably Risky One to Draft series with wide receivers up next. Now, in fairness to Legwold, we did cite this piece yesterday in which Matt Waldman said teams find it especially hard to evaluate QBs, WRs and DBs. But name a position that Legwold hasn't written up as being a super duper gamble and we'll give you a gold star sticker.

Legwold also claims Denver needs more depth now that they have a QB who loves to throw the ball a ton, although this of course ignores the fact that running a no-huddle offense means not changing personnel all that much from play to play. As Ted has noted, the same players tend to stay on the field with Manning.

In reality, Peyton Manning does distribute the ball to a lot of players, but those players are basically all starters. A look back at his time in Indy finds that each year, the bulk of his passes would go to two or three wideouts, two or three tight ends, and two or three running backs. At almost no point in his career has a fourth WR caught very many passes, and early on it was essentially Marvin Harrison and nobody else.

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Denver Broncos 2012 schedule

Here is the 2012 schedule; all times are expressed in Eastern Time.

Week Day Date Opponent Time Network
1 Sunday Sep 9, 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers 8:20 pm NBC
2 Monday Sep 17, 2012 at Atlanta Falcons 8:30 pm ESPN
3 Sunday Sep 23, 2012 Houston Texans 4:25 pm CBS
4 Sunday Sep 30, 2012 Oakland Raiders 4:05 pm CBS
5 Sunday Oct 7, 2012 at New England Patriots 4:25 pm CBS
6 Monday Oct 15, 2012 at San Diego Chargers 8:30 pm ESPN
7 BYE        
8 Sunday Oct 28, 2012 New Orleans Saints 8:20 pm NBC
9 Sunday Nov 4, 2012 at Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 pm CBS
10 Sunday Nov 11, 2012 at Carolina Panthers 1:00 pm CBS
11 Sunday Nov 18, 2012 San Diego Chargers 4:25 pm CBS
12 Sunday Nov 25, 2012 at Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 pm CBS
13 Sunday Dec 2, 2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4:05 pm FOX
14 Thursday Dec 6, 2012 at Oakland Raiders 8:20 pm NFLN
15 Sunday Dec 16, 2012 at Baltimore Ravens 1:00 pm CBS
16 Sunday Dec 23, 2012 Cleveland Browns 4:05 pm CBS
17 Sunday Dec 30, 2012 Kansas City Chiefs 4:25 pm CBS

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Fat Camp: Understanding the Manning offense - Part 6

Happy Tuesday, friends.  Welcome to Part 6 of our seven-part series about how Peyton Manning plays offense.  Today, we’ll cover the seven-step passing and screen games.  Later this week, we’ll close out the series, and then it’s on to Draft coverage.

Here are links to the first five parts of the series if you need to catch up on something:

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

Part 2 – Presnap Recognition Concepts

Part 3 – The Running Game

Part 4 – The Three-Step Passing Game

Part 5 – The Five-Step Passing Game

As I mentioned on Wednesday, the Manning offense tends to revolve around the three- and five-step passing games, particularly the five-step version.  The seven-step game takes a long time to work and requires better protection, generally with fewer receivers in the pattern.

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The Daily Lard 4-17-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's offseason workout program began yesterday, and Peyton Manning, Champ Bailey, Eric Decker, and Von Miller (all videos) all met with the press afterward.

Manning says he's still basically living at Dove Valley, although that's probably something of an exaggeration. Judging by his secretive nature, he probably already bought a house in the area. Of course, the practice nut seems very excited to have started the official, albeit voluntary, portion of the offseason.

Meanwhile, Miller says his injured thumb is still only at 85%, while Decker's knee is free of pain. The third-year wideout says he is already familiar with the "new-age" techniques utilized by strength coach Luke Richesson from having worked out at API the past couple years.

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Why didn’t the Broncos make a run at Dallas Clark? Here’s your answer.

We've known this for several weeks now, but did not pass it along to our readers because we thought there was still a small chance the Broncos might sign Dallas Clark.  As it turns out, Albert Breer was probably right.  Jason Cole confirmed that Clark is likely done playing (at least for the year) at age 33:

The word on the street is that Clark, who was such a dynamic force in his prime with Indianapolis, is done. Maybe a good offseason of rest will help. Getting a tight end who knows how to work the middle is a valuable commodity.

There was speculation that Clark would be joining Manning in Denver. Now we know why the Broncos didn't make it happen: Clark is simply too battered and bruised from years of taking punishing hits.  

If you doubt it, check out the clip below the jump and fast forward to 0:43 where John Lynch gives Clark a love tap.

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