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The Daily Lard 1-11-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It was a big day on the coaching carousel yesterday, with the most significant move being Oakland's firing of Huebris* Jackson. As Monte Poole details, it appears the Raiders will finally be operating the way most other sports franchises do: with a clear hierarchy, and with new GM Reggie McKenzie's handpicked coach able to hire/fire his own staff and even call plays without keeping one ear open for a call from Big Al.

But thankfully, a couple of Raiders trademarks will endure: firstly, their locational uncertainty continues, as owner Mark Davis says the team is considering either a move back to LA, shacking up with the Niners, or a new stadium in Oaktown. Secondly, it appears Davis has the potential to someday sport a look as caricature-like as his late father did: his hairdo appears to be an amalgam of those belonging to Lloyd Christmas and Ishmael.

More good news for Denver arrives from Jacksonville, where the Jaguars have hired Mark Mike Mularkey, meaning Mike McCoy is out of the running for that gig. Guess the Broncos are stuck with his terrible playcalling, huh?

Elsewhere, Chargers OC Clarence Shelmon is retiring, and the Jets have replaced Brian Schottenheimer with Tony Sparano (where else could he land but a few miles from the Bada Bing?).

* This one belongs to TJ

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Raiders fire Hue Jackson

Adam Schefter is reporting that the Raiders have fired coach Hue Jackson after just one season. Speculation had grown in recent days that new Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie was considering bringing in a handpicked head coach. It's certainly understandable, especially considering the exceptional amount of power Jackson had wielded in recent months.

Jackson had become the de facto GM following the death of Al Davis, and it had been Jackson's curious decision to trade away two high picks for QB Carson Palmer. Under McKenzie, Jackson would have been taking a step backwards within the organization (even if it was called for), and of course the new GM has his own legacy to forge with the organization. Why do so with a coach who outranks you in terms of seniority, and who just got used to calling all the shots?

Larsen to IR; Broncos promote WR Goodwin

The Broncos have placed FB Spencer Larsen on IR; Larsen injured his knee against KC in Week 17 and along with FB Austin Sylvester did not dress for Sunday's victory over Pittsburgh. To take Larsen's roster spot and play Saturday should Eric Decker's own knee injury keep him out, the Broncos promoted rookie D'Andre Goodwin from the practice squad.

Denver also added WR Tim Toone to the PS to take the spot vacated by Goodwin's promotion. Toone was 2010's Mr. Irrelevant, as the Lions selected him with the final pick in that year's draft; he most recently was a member of the Bills. He also happens to have a head of hair which makes him look like Michael Bolton, except for the dreadlocks.

Striking the right tone

So, um, yeah.  How about them Broncos?  I’ve been thinking for the last few days about how to strike the right tone with regards to Tim Tebow.  As most know, I’ve been saying that the guy will win Super Bowls in the NFL since he was a sophomore in college, long before he was ever drafted by the Broncos.  Having now seen Tebow play great in his first NFL playoff game, I feel like I should revisit that.  I don't want to be a gloater, and I definitely don't want to call out anybody personally who has disagreed with me.

Despite being both a longtime Florida Gators and Denver Broncos fan, I’m not emotionally invested in Tebow’s success.  I made an evaluation of the guy years ago, have basically stuck to it, and I still think I’m right.  Honestly, the Kansas City game made me wonder if the guy wasn’t as fearless as I’d always thought.  Maybe I’d misevaluated that – it happens, right?  If a QB is afraid to throw to a small window against tight coverage, he can’t play in the NFL.  With more evidence of that deficiency, I’d have completely supported a change.

I’ve said this before, but I don’t care about whether I was correct in the past, I care about being correct right now.  Being a good analyst is kind of like playing Cornerback; you have to forget the times you got burned, and be ready to dominate on the next snap.  I'm right a lot more often than I'm wrong, and I have years of archives to back that up.  As they say, tape don't lie.

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The Daily Lard 1-10-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In FO's Audibles column, Tom Gower points out the Broncos had an illegal formation (only six on the LOS) for their game-winning play. Did I say something yesterday about the breaks going against Denver? Here's a story on the same from the DP, including a screenshot.

Of course, this is a rather nitpicky point, and it pales in comparison to the blown lateral call which had the very real potential of costing Denver the game. To think, that mistake (and subsequent Pittsburgh TD) in concert with a different result on the OT coin toss, and we instead could all be rightfully bitching for the next several months over how the Broncos got jobbed. Or, the officials could have called back the touchdown, Denver could have lost, and again we'd be stuck focusing on the lateral non-call. Just another reminder that it usually often comes down to a little bit of luck.

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Monday Musings: Denver, Robert Ayers and value

They did it. They shocked me, and I’ve got a lot of company. It might not have been a great passing performance, but it was a very good one with multiple long receptions. The Steelers were down to their starting QB limping and their starting RB out as well as some line problems, and that’s a shame, because I think that on that day, Denver would have beaten them, healthy or not. The whole team talked about it all week long - this isn’t about some QB. This is the Denver Broncos, they were at home in the playoffs, they earned it, and ending the regular season with three losses wasn’t making anyone in that locker room happy. The team came out of the runway and ran straight into history. I can’t imagine anyone complaining about the pass protection - the OL gave Tim Tebow lots of time, and while he didn’t complete for a high percentage, he threw big passes. Sometime I think he likes it that way. Beating Pittsburgh, at home, after the last time Denver faced them in the playoffs, was special. Winning in overtime at home is even more so.

One thing that I really liked (and there were many) was David Bruton’s performance. He kept his gap discipline on the Pittsburgh 17-yard run in the fourth quarter:  the run was not directly inside his gap, but two or three three techniques over. He immediately saw that there was no defender, took off from a full stop and built speed quickly: he took a good angle to make the tackle, downfield or not, and with his speed, he kept it out of the endzone. He had a half-dozen good plays over the course of the day. I’ve always believed that Bruton has what it takes to make it as a starting safety. Yesterday suggested the same thing.

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The Daily Lard 1-9-12

GOOD MORNING, Broncos fans! Your Denver Broncos notched their first playoff win in six years yesterday with a 29-23 overtime victory over the defending AFC champion Steelers, setting up a rematch with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and now, Josh McDaniels - this time in Foxborough on Saturday night at 8PM ET.

So, what was it this time? Score on defense? Uh uh. Score on a special teams return? Negative. Win the turnover battle? No. Opponent gifts/brain farts? Nope. Foxball? Nah. Tebow Time? Not the kind we've seen before. Instead, Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas connected on a slew of big plays, none bigger than an 80-yard catch and run on the lone play of overtime. Tebow produced 366 yards of offense and three scores on 10 pass completions and 10 rushes, and his fellow 2010 first-rounder caught four passes for 204 yards and the game-winner.

A week ago against KC, Denver's longest play from scrimmage was a 17-yard catch and run by Thomas. Yesterday, Tebow had pass completions of 80, 58, 51, and 15 yards to Thomas; 40 and 17 yards to Daniel Fells; 30, 13 and 9 yards to Eddie Royal (the 30-yarder opened Denver's scoring on what was probably Tim's finest pass yet as a pro); and a 6-yarder to Lance Ball. Plus, Tim ran for three first downs, two of them crucial gains which led to Matt Prater's fourth-quarter FG.

Put simply, Tebow was fabulous.

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Gut Reaction - Wild Card Round: Broncos vs Steelers

The rumors of the fall of Tim Tebow have been greatly exaggerated.

In one of the biggest upset victories in Broncos history, Tebow did exactly what John Elway would have done--he pulled the trigger.

The game was electric; the pace was deadly; the results were amazing.

1998 never looked so good.

The defense was bend but don't break.  The offense was breakout.

Bring on the Patriots.  Stranger things have happened.

Today, I'm only giving Postives and nothing more. It's a playoff win, man!  Let it rip!  This one is for the readers.  Give us your thoughts on the first Broncos playoff win in six years!!!!!

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Open Thread - Wild Card Sunday

Enjoy the games, everyone - and Go Broncos! Denver's inactives today are S Brian Dawkins, FB Austin Sylvester, FB Spencer Larsen, LB Mike Mohamed, T Ryan Harris, TE Julius Thomas, and DE Derrick Harvey. Interesting that the Broncos will go without a fullback today, although TEs Dante Rosario and Virgil Green can fill in there when needed. This also means reserve linemen Tony Hills and Manny Ramirez are active; David Bruton is starting in place of Dawkins at strong safety.

For Pittsburgh, RB Mewelde Moore, S Ryan Clark, CB Cortez Allen, C Maurkice Pouncey, LB Mortty Ivy, DT Al Woods, and T Jamon Meredith are out.

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