The Daily Lard 4-24-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Elway met with the press (video, partial transcript) yesterday to talk about the draft, which begins only 60 hours from the time of this writing. Elway spoke about the retirement of Brian Dawkins (it was the player's decision), the team's needs at defensive tackle (he claims it's overstated) and at cornerback (you can never have too many), and even the Ring of Fame-worthiness of Simon Fletcher (still not in, despite Elway being tricked into thinking he was just added by a reporter's question).

As for trading picks, Elway says the team is more likely to move down from #25 than up, so we should all prepare for the possibility that Thursday night will come and go without Denver adding a player. He also says the team will again draft with the intent of receiving significant contributions from their early picks as rookies.

More on Elway's comments from Lindsay JonesArnie Stapleton, and Stuart Zaas.

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You Got Served: It’s getting Drafty in here

Happy Monday, friends.  I was hoping to get Part 7 of my Manning Offense series done while I was in Dallas, but alas, we ended up working three long days, and I didn’t have time.  It’s going to have to wait until after the Draft, because I need to shift to that situation.

How is it possible that the best Broncos site in the world hasn’t done a single bit of mockery?  Have you considered that?  I would say that it’s mostly because we think that it’s a waste of time, and that there’s no shortage of people spending their time doing and updating them.  When it comes down to it, we don’t know what the teams are going to do, and when a good mockery performance is getting six or seven picks out of 32 right, what’s the point?

I do one annual piece of mockery, called the Rational Actor Mock Draft (RAMD), and I’ll be doing that tomorrow.  Expect that to be IAOFM’s only foray into mockery, once again.  The way we see it, it’s better to cover what actually happens on Draft weekend than it is to do 74 mocks between January and April.  As in the past, you’ll want to be here for the best coverage between Thursday and Saturday.

For today, I’m going to give you some thoughts about football, the Draft, and what I think the Broncos should do this week.  Fun times, right?  Ready… BEGIN!!

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Brian Dawkins to retire as Philadelphia Eagle

As noted by Lindsay Jones, Denver safety Brian Dawkins is retiring. Via Twitter, Dawkins writes:

The Lord has blessed me to play in the NFL for 16 years. I would like to thank the Eagles & the Broncos 4 believing In me. I would like 2 thank all my teammates & Coaches that I have been blessed 2 go to battle with. Along with u, the fans 4 helping make my career 1 that i have enjoyed tremendously. In other words. I am announcing my retirement from the NFL. #BBTB

Dawkins spent three seasons with the Broncos after 13 in Philadelphia, and he was named to eight Pro Bowls and was a four-time first-team All-Pro. He started 39 of the 41 games he played for Denver, but a neck injury forced the future HOFer to miss the team's regular season finale and two playoff games.

According to LJ and Andrew Mason, Dawkins will officially retire on Saturday as a Philadelphia Eagle.

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NFL playbooks? There’s an app for that Lard 4-23-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday we read that Denver would be moving fully into the future of the NFL game on the field, borrowing from the Packers, Saints, and Colts to develop the passing section of their playbook. We already know they've adopted a forward-looking approach to conditioning with their hiring of Luke Richesson and his subsequent overhaul of the team's workout facilities.

Today, via Andy Vuong, we learn that the Broncos are following the innovative and intuitive leads of the Ravens and Bucs by eschewing the printed playbooks of old for digital ones distributed on iPads. Players will apparently be able to access game plans, film, and scouting reports on their new tablets, with newly added plays pushed to them instantly.

As for security concerns, the team will be able to remotely erase any iPads that potentially go missing, whereas once a printed playbook was lost, there was no recourse.

Nonsensically, the NFL is not yet allowing tablets to be used on the sideline during games, but they at least have relaxed a silly rule that said such devices had to be shut off 90 minutes before kickoff. Instead, players will have access to them in the locker room right until gametime.

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Broncos’ pursuit of Asante Samuel leaves clues to scheme and draft

The Broncos' pursuit of Asante Samuel is more than an admission they want to upgrade their secondary.

It might be the very clue we needed to put this whole question of their defensive scheme (and perhaps their draft strategy) together.

How so?  It starts with the overlooked fact that Asante Samuel's skillset is not tight, man-to-man coverage. It's playing off man in a Cover 2.  In fact, Samuel is world class at this style of cornerback play.  Coincidentally (not so much), it's also Champ Bailey's strength, although Bailey is certainly adept at playing tight man coverage when the situation calls for it.  But Bailey's preference is off man, where he can play five to seven yards off the line of scrimmage, aligned straight legged, and heads up or slightly outside of the receiver, peering into the backfield at the quarterback.  

You'll recall that when Bailey finished runner-up to Jason Taylor as Defensive POY in 2006, he played a majority of his coverages out of this scheme.  It allowed him to utilize his experience with offensive play and route recognition, along with his catlike reflexes.

Samuel, although not in Bailey's league when it comes to man-to-man coverage, has a similar ability to react to the quarterback and read routes out of off-man coverage. Of course, this is exactly why the Broncos wanted to trade for him.  Their intention was for their base defense to feature off-man coverage from the corners.  It's no coincidence the Broncos have also signed Tracy Porter, another cornerback, who, although younger than Samuel, also has a preference for off-man coverage.

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The Daily Lard 4-22-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Woody Paige, the new Denver offense will be complected of:

  • Plays straight out of Indy's playbook, of course
  • Plays that John Fox and Mike McCoy grew fond of during their seven seasons together in Carolina
  • "Pass plays the Broncos had before Tebow," which really means concepts and plays inherited from Josh McDaniels
  • Willis McGahee-friendly rushing plays from last year
  • Plays copied from Green Bay and New Orleans, the preeminent passing offenses of the day
  • Pass plays which suited the skills of new Broncos Joel Dreessen and Andre Caldwell in their prior homes (Houston and Cincy, respectively)

Peyton Manning also tells Woody he's been spending some quality time with Johns Elway and Fox, and that he's found a house in the area.

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The Daily Lard 4-21-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the reason the Eagles and Broncos did not complete a deal to send CB Asante Samuel to Denver is that the Broncos and Samuel were unable to agree to a renegotiated contract. The 10th-year corner has expressed a willingness to rework his deal, but apparently the two sides haven't yet been able to find common ground.

And while Mike Klis's story from yesterday suggests that Denver has given up hope of completing a deal, McLane's account makes it sound more open-ended:

While Samuel has agreed to restructure the remaining two years of his contract - he's slated to earn $10 million this season and $11.5 million next season - he has yet to consent to some other requests by Denver, sources said.

McLane also says the Eagles "appear willing to take whatever they can get before the draft starts Thursday," so this truly isn't a matter of Denver Philly playing chicken.

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Ben Garland granted release from Air Force

Grand Junction native Ben Garland is back with the Broncos after receiving an early release from his Air Force commitment. The 24-year-old defensive tackle was originally signed by Denver as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and tallied six tackles that preseason before being placed on the Reserve/Military list.

During his time at the Air Force Academy, Garland started 34 of the 39 games he played and accumulated 115 tackles and 11.5 sacks while forcing three fumbles and blocking two kicks.

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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.