Eli: Willies were extra wet for ESPN ad

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Back to the Future Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Denver's backups shellacked the Bears' understudies 31-3 (box score, BTV highlights, NFLN highlights, John Fox, Peyton Manning, others) in Chicago last night.

Manning wasn't quite all there - several of his throws fluttered a bit - and his only possession ended with what appeared a poorly-placed throw at the goal line to Brandon Stokley which was tipped and intercepted. FWIW, Stokes claims he ran a poor route on the play, but we'll never know for sure.

But Peyton's legendary footwork, decision-making, and quick release were on full display, and from his postgame comments, it's clear he wasn't so sure a year ago that he'd ever be back in the NFL. Last night was obviously a big deal to Peyton, who we're guessing had as much nervous anticipation for a preseason game as he did for his very first one in 1998.

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Gut Reaction: Preseason Week 1 - Broncos at Bears

They came. They saw. They didn't get injured.  

There was also a little thing called Peyton Manning's return to football.  Other than that, it was just another preseason game.

Excitement reigns in Broncos Country.  The Broncos just destroyed the Chicago Bears in every aspect of the game; their rusty Hall of Fame quarterback is only going to get better; their defense already looks to be a huge upgrade.

Yet, preseason is preseason for good reason.  It means little more than an opportunity for Xavier Omon to heat up message boards all across the nation--for at least a week.

Optimistic? Yes.

Cautiously? More so.

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Open Thread: Preseason Opener 2012

Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Broncos!

PS. We have Peyton MF Manning

Five things you can watch while everyone else is busy talking about Peyton Manning’s arm strength

We get it. The big topic tonight will be the strength of Peyton Manning's arm. Does he have it?  Did he ever lose it?  When will he get it?   

That's fine if all you want is a casual relationship with the Denver Broncos.  But if what you're looking for is a passionate affair--and I'm talking hot, steamy friction--then take your eyes off Manning's member (his arm, dude), and keep your eyes out for a few other things tonight:

Personnel Packages

  • Do the Broncos feature three wide receivers and one tight end? Or do they experiment with a larger package?
  • How often do you see the fullback in the play? Does he function as a tight end?
  • Remember, one way to gauge this is to think of the simple three-number system that goes: RBs-TEs-WRs.  So if you see the Broncos with a tailback, a tight end, and three wideouts, you can simply write it (or say it before the play) as: 113.  Since we're always going to see (generally) two tackles, two guards, a center, and a quarterback, your three numbers will always add up to five.  How the packages are used can provide you some insight into the Broncos' strategy this year.  If you want to use the two-number system, just drop off the last number; it will be implied.  So the example above would be 11 personnel.

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Pregame Limerick: Cutler and Marshall

Nothing beats mocking your opponent in the hours leading up to a game--even if it's only preseason.

Obviously, this week's topic is the Chicago Bears, or as I like to think of them, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. 

Absurd in a word is the pair
of Jay and The Beast in a stare.
The eyes are a lock,
the pattern a mock--
the safety just picks from the air.

Take your shot.  Mocking Jay Cutler never gets old.

And for more limerick fun, check out the entire history of IAOFM's limericks here.

Turn on the lights; the party’s starting Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team held a walkthrough yesterday morning (John Fox) before heading to Chicago for tonight's preseason opener (BTV). New Broncos Jim Leonhard and Keith Brooking did not make the trip, nor did injured players Justin Bannan, Quinton Carter, Tyler Grisham, and Greg Orton.

Chris Kuper and Ronnie Hillman traveled with the team, but the lineman is not expected to play. The rookie back will be a gametime decision, as is D.J. Williams, who has apparently been working with the scout team during camp and not totally inactive.

Kevin Vickerson and Ty Warren are expected to start at defensive tackle; one matchup to watch for will be Champ Bailey versus Brandon Marshall.

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Here’s why stats are dangerous in the wrong hands

Neat little trick from Jeff Legwold today. He came up with a premise that the Broncos have given up too many big plays of late, and his column was titled thusly:

Broncos defense prone to yielding "explosive plays" in recent years

In classic Legwoldian, he writes that "most teams" consider 10-yard rushes and 20-yard completions to be "explosive plays." Not sure if he polled the league's coaches, or what, for that one.

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Speed Heals: Defense

When Mike Shanahan was fired by the Broncos, he left behind a team that was a shell of its former self. The players who had been stallions during the Super Bowl years were long gone. The defensive players who remained were, they said publicly, treated as second-class citizens.

The roster was depleted in multiple areas and then a young former offensive coordinator tried to move the team to a reflection of the 3-4 system that he’d just left, but without the kind of players who made that system work. The offense wasn’t exactly loaded, either. A lot of things were missing on defense during that transition - stronger players, workable draft picks, a middle linebacker who keeps his helmet on, common sense - but one vacancy stood out as the roster was changed over:

Speed

It means linebackers with the legs to catch a returner in the open field, or to give cornerbacks a shot at covering the multiple players they are matched up against in passing situations. It means backside pursuit and pass rushers who can reach the quarterback before he can carve up the secondary. It’s essential to the new concept of Broncos defense that John Fox and Jack Del Rio will be implementing this season - which, whatever else is true, will require a faster pocket pressure with quicker linebackers and better defensive backfield speed.

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Marshawn Lynch, King of Corn (rows and mazes) Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Justin Bannan (calf), Ryan Harris (ankle), and Quinton Carter (knee, hamstring) were among those who did not participate in yesterday's practice (Peyton Manning, photos, more photos), while Ty Warren left early with a possible stomach virus. Newly signed LB Keith Brooking was already on the field for individual and 7-on-7 drills; he cannot join padded practices until Saturday.

D.J. Williams even saw some action, but it was only at the Sam spot when Von Miller got a late start to the morning walkthrough. A failure to stay in bounds by Knowshon Moreno while trying to run out the clock yesterday calls both his low Wonderlic score and Marion Barber to mind, although he did see first-team snaps.

The Broncos also had a walkthrough yesterday evening, and this morning's practice will be somewhat abbreviated so the team can catch a flight to Chicago for tomorrow's preseason opener.

After several days' worth of heaping praise, Brock Osweiler has struggled in the past couple of practices; Adam Weber was the only QB to lead a successful two-minute drill, as Peyton's turn ended with four straight incompletions at the goal line.

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