Doc’s Pregame Thoughts: Week 1 vs Steelers

Come Sunday night, Denver is facing their first game of the Manning Era, and the offense will probably will still have a few wrinkles to try out. On the other side of the ball, the loss of both S Ryan Clark and ROLB James Harrison (Harrison is presumably, according to his own Twitter account, not going to play) should hurt the Steelers. So might the uncertainty of how to defend against a scheme that no one has seen, although much of the run game will be similar to plays that Denver ran in 2011. 
 
One side story that interests me is this:  I thought Dick LeBeau (to whom I wish a happy 75th birthday today) seemed to utterly  blow his defensive coordinator role in the Wild Card game last season. I'm sure that he's redoing that entire issue to match what he sees in Denver's new look and he's hoping that he understands essentially what the Broncos will be bringing. Denver has gone vanilla on both sides of the ball in preseason, as you'd expect, and I'm not sure that we've seen anything like what McCoy/Fox/Manning have concocted for the Steelers to defend. Todd Haley will have some wrinkles of his own, but not to the same degree. The Steelers tend to stay within their standard scheme - run the power game and trust in Ben Roethlisberger's arm. I haven’t read or seen any indication that they’ll change a great deal. 

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Game Day Limerick: Pittsburgh Steelers

Because nothing screams football like a drunken limerick:

I awoke a wee drunk this morn.
It was God I beheld reborn--
not in Tebow's charm,
but in Manning's arm.
It was better than watching porn.

Take your own shot below.  Week 1 is upon us!

Open Thread: Week 1

Enjoy the game everyone, and Go Broncos!

Inactive for Denver are WR Andre Caldwell, RB Ronnie Hillman, LB Steven Johnson, G Philip Blake, DL Malik Jackson, G Chris Kuper, and DT Sealver Siliga.

Pittsburgh will be without LB James Harrison, RB Rashard Mendenhall, QB Charlie Batch, S Ryan Clark, T Kelvin Beachum, G David DeCastro, and DT Alameda Ta'amu.

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Manning era begins in earnest Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I had intended to kick off the season with an extremely thorough version of the Lard, but car issues (the third of our road trip) have us stuck in Beantown for what is hopefully a matter of hours.

Travel problems aside, it's been a great mental break for me, and Ted did a real bang-up job of keeping you posted on the news. I hope you've appreciated his fine work here as much as I have.

Anyway, we're just a few hours away from the early kickoffs on the first Sunday of the 2012 season. The Broncos have thankfully been spared the usual early road game as dictated by CB$'s coverage of the US Open men's final, so we (you) all get to enjoy a full day of football before watching the Broncos and the debut of PMFM without the distraction of other games.

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Last Lard from me

Happy Saturday, friends.  Doug will be back tomorrow, but for one last day, you're stuck with me.  News-wise, it's the calm before the storm, but tomorrow, stuff's about to get real.  For today, you draftnik types can watch some college ball, and start dreaming on this dude or that dude.  I liked what I saw of Utah's DT Star Lotulelei last night, but hopefully, the Broncos aren't picking in the Top 5, and don't have a chance to take him.  Let's start calling this stuff out - who do you like from the Saturday games?

For tomorrow's game, it looks less and less like James Harrison will play.  That will rob the Broncos and their fans of knowing how Peyton Manning's neck will hold up to a hit from the greatest neck-tester in the world.  It may be until the postseason before we know how the neck will manage a hit from Harrison, maybe later, if the Steelers don't make the playoffs, like I expect.

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A Second Helping of Von Miller vs San Francisco

One of the goals that Von Miller has set for his sophomore NFL season is to improve both his run defense and pass coverage.

We’ve already looked at a run play where he showed that improvement - now let’s take a peek at some simple things that he - and the rest of the Broncos - have done to improve in pass defense.

13:39 remains in the second quarter of the preseason game against San Francisco, and the 49ers have scored a touchdown in response to 17 straight points from the Broncos.

If things go well this season, Denver will be facing a lot of obvious passing downs in just such a position - playing with a lead while the opponent tries to get back into the game. It’s 3rd and 6, and the 49ers have driven deep into Broncos territory - they’re on the 15-yard line, and they are seeking either a touchdown or a first down.

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Lard with a ponytail

Happy Friday, friends.  Doug's still vacationing, I'm still pretending to fill his shoes, and from the looks of our numbers, y'all are still reading us.  Fridays are pretty awesome, so we're going to start with something that's extremely awesome.  My favorite ESPN personality John Clayton, as you've never seen him before.  (Unless you saw this video yesterday.

I knock ESPN, because they employ annoying jackasses like Clayton and Chris Berman, and because I think they generally underachieve despite massive resources.  That's the best This is SportsCenter I've seen in a long time, though.  Devil its due.

Who's excited for a full slate of NFL action this weekend?  You know I am.  Let's get to all the news that printed to fit.

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More half-assed Lard

Happy Thursday, friends.  I'm an up-early, tired SOB today, after flipping between the Giants-Cowboys and Bill Clinton's speech last night.  I had one thing on, and kind of watched the play-by-play of the other on Twitter.  I like the Big Dog, and I like football too, so I wanted to catch some of both.  It struck me how natural it felt to experience two events simultaneously, and how it's easy to forget that you couldn't really do that even five years ago.  I'll be interested to see how the ratings looked for both things.  The NFL played last night, instead of Thursday, because they didn't want to go up against the President's speech, but Clinton is a pretty big draw himself.  I wonder how the ratings captures somebody like me, who watched both events.

In football news, the Cowboys had an impressive performance, and won 24-17 over the Super Bowl champion Giants.  Tony Romo made key plays at big moments, and RB DeMarco Murray, WR Kevin Ogletree, and CBs Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne impressed for the Cowboys.  The Giants got off to a slow start offensively, and were hurt by an early Victor Cruz drop on third down, and a fumble by rookie RB David Wilson.

Trailing 24-10, the Giants scored a TD with 2:36 remaining, and had two timeouts and the two-minute warning.  On third-and-1, Murray ran for a first down around left end, but a holding penalty was correctly called, giving the Cowboys 3rd-and-11, and a strong chance for a stop.  Romo hit Ogletree on a 13-yard slant to effectively end the game.  Give Romo and the Cowboys credit for making the plays they needed to make to win a game.

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You Got Served: Thoughts on the AFC South and AFC West

Happy Football Wednesday, friends.  I’m back with some thoughts today on 2 more divisions, and my plan remains to stick to the following schedule.

Tuesday: AFC East, AFC North

Wednesday: AFC South, AFC West

Thursday: NFC East, NFC North

Friday: NFC South, NFC West

Tonight, the season kicks off with the Giants playing the Cowboys.  Also, Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Convention.  Joe’s comments 4 years ago in Denver went a long way toward getting the dumbasses on the Hall of Fame veterans committee to consider his Syracuse classmate Floyd Little, and ultimately, to elect him.  Whether you like his politics or not, it was cool to see a Vice Presidential nominee, and soon-to-be Vice President, take up for a great Bronco, and help right an egregious wrong.  I don’t think Joe knows Randy Gradishar, though, so if you want to just watch tonight’s game, that’s cool. 

Edit - 7:52 PM :  Biden doesn't speak until Thursday night.  My mistake - I should have checked before I used his speech to set up my joke/complaint about Randy Gradishar.  TB

Anyway, on to analyzing a couple of divisions.  I promised the AFC South and the AFC West, and I’m going to deliver.  Ready… BEGIN!!

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A Second Helping of Elvis Dumervil vs San Francisco

Jack Del Rio has made no bones about it - he wants to increase the defense’s pressure on opposing offensive lines.

That pressure will affect the passing game by sacking, hurrying, and harassing the quarterback, making the job of the secondary easier. It also affects the run game, creating more tackles for loss, and more hits and tackles made at or near the line of scrimmage. Even in the simplified world of preseason football, the approaches Denver will take showed glimpses of themselves.

For a prime example, let's review a sack from two weeks ago by Elvis Dumervil against the 49ers and QB Alex Smith.

With 10:36 to go in the first quarter, the 49ers are down 3-0 and facing third and six - a tough down to achieve - and usually an obvious passing down. The 49ers are in a shotgun 11 formation with three wideouts, and Frank Gore alongside quarterback Alex Smith in the backfield.

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