DST Lard 3-13-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Lots of interesting Broncos-related stuff from Dan Pompei in his Sunday column - he thinks the Bills and Vikings have significant interest in Cam Newton - hopefully this would translate into a nice trade for Denver if Minnesota wants to then leapfrog Buffalo from the 12th spot? Mr. Wilf, perhaps we'll take your second-rounder this year and your first-rounder next year, thank you very much! If not, then we could squeeze a nice pick out of Buffalo for them to move up one spot and keep Minnesota at bay. Pompei is also hearing serious concerns surrounding the health of Da'Quan Bowers' surgically-repaired knee. Plus, he can foresee big bucks for Marc Bulger with the Cards or Niners and Kevin Kolb in Seattle (taking a couple of Kyle Orton trade options out of the picture).

Finally, Pompei has Denver taking Marcell Dareus in his mock draft and lists his favorite NFL unretirement stories, including Tommy Maddox (whom Dan Reeves drafted after his sophomore season instead of Carl Pickens as John Elway was entering his age 32 season). Another of Pompei's favorites is Gary Zimmerman, who didn't come back for the Broncos' first SB win until Elway rode up to Sturgis to go get him (or of course, Zim just wanted to go to Sturgis before suffering the rigors of training camp).

PS. You turned your clocks forward, right?

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Decertified Lockout Lard 3-12-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Well, here we are. The NFLPA decertified yesterday evening, the owners made it sound like they had met the players halfway (halfway from what?) and the players filed suit to block a potential lockout. The owners for a few hours portrayed themselves as still willing to negotiate, fans raged on Twitter, and then the owners moved forward with their lockout. Look, this is not about "feeling bad" for anyone. Yes, we're talking about a sport here, albeit one we all love dearly. But the players (who we turn on the TV to see) and the owners (who represent nothing to us as fans) are business partners and neither can thrive without the other. But the owners have not treated the players as such, and their public stance of having tried to meet the players in the middle is laughable, to say the least. How can anyone believe them when they're playing with imaginary numbers? Until the NFL opens up its books to the players, nothing is going to get done, nor should it...

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Gut Reaction: Decertification

When the NFLPA decertified at 5 PM, they made it highly unlikely that there is any meaningful lockout this season.  This is being widely misunderstood and misreported by the mainstream football media, but it allows the players to sue to in order to block an owner-imposed lockout.  They’ll also file a bunch of  specific suits alleging violations of antitrust laws, in the absence of a CBA.

The players are going to eventually win those lawsuits, in the face of clear and established antitrust law, and they’re going to eventually wind up with a better situation than they could have with continued negotiations.  The NFL was intransigent, and was determined to lock out the players and pressure them into major concessions.  David Doty's recent ruling that the NFL acted in bad faith in negotiating the payment of television fees even in the case of a work stoppage took away all of their leverage for the war of attrition which they were planning.

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Brian Dawkins speaks up on concussions

Current Bronco and former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins spoke with Tim McManus of Philly Sports Daily recently and addressed the serious issue of concussions both mild and severe. Frighteningly, Dawkins told McManus it's impossible to keep track of all the mild head injuries he's suffered throughout his career that didn't take him off the field. Meanwhile, the notoriously hard hitter said he believes he's suffered four concussions that have knocked him out cold and/or caused him memory loss. Dawkins said,

It’s a concern, and it should be a concern to everybody...We have to make sure that the men who play the game are protected for long after they are done so that our legends can be living legends.

McManus' article is a worthwhile read, as is John Miller's related column on the same site. (via PFT)

Statuesque Lard 3-11-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! What a shame. It appears Tim Tebow will have a statue erected in his honor at the Gators' stadium before John Elway gets one outside the stadium THAT HE BUILT. Who knows - perhaps Mr. B has offered to have one created to honor Elway and The Greatest Ever was embarrassed by the idea. And maybe Elway specifically didn't want one because he knew he'd someday be either running the team and/or owning it, so perhaps he thought it would be a bit tacky to have a statue of himself outside his 'office'. Whatever the explanation, Mr. B should still have gone ahead and put up a worthy tribute to John Elway the football player. After all, without Elway would Bowlen have his shiny publicly-subsidized stadium that's named for a company that engaged in market timing?

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The Playbook Abides: Living here in Allentown; Disguised overload blitz

This week we'll continue to examine some of the concepts that new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen will bring to the Broncos.   Last week we looked at the overload blitz.

While Dennis Allen was in New Orleans, the Saints blitzed more than any team in the league on passing downs (52%).  However, blitzing that often can become problematic; one can't always line up eight defenders at the line of scrimmage and yell, "CHARGE!".  Eventually, the offense will adjust with screens and quick passes.

That's why the football gods created deception.  Deception not only separates us from animals (and Raiders fans), but it separates advanced defenses from more primitive ones.

Make no mistake about it--Denver's defense in 2010 wasn't just primitive, it was downright amphibian.  Disguise wasn't something they did well; when the Broncos got pressure, it was often due to coverage, not disguise or creative schemes.

That should change next year - it's safe to say that the Broncos' defense under Dennis Allen won't be the most talented, but you can bet the house that they will be deceptive and creative.  

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The Daily Lard 3-10-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yahoo's Jason Cole is reporting that the NFL and the players' union have agreed to the structure of a new rookie wage scale, in which first-rounders' contracts would be limited to four years in length. There would also apparently be a cap on the signing bonuses and guarantees given, and contracts for players drafted beyond the first round would be limited to three years (which would be followed by restricted free agency). Assuming Cole's report is correct, this is unquestionably good news for the Broncos - it will allow them to either select a player at #2 and not be hamstrung by a massive guarantee, or trade the pick, which would now be more attractive thanks to those same financial restraints.

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Scouting the Broncos: Defensive Line

With the recent release of both Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams, and with Marcus Thomas currently uninterested in signing his tender, Denver is creating a brand new level of opportunity for whatever defensive linemen they acquire over the next six months. One has to hope that there will be a free agency period as well as the draft; and while questions about who Denver will select aren’t answered, the positions to be targeted has become more clear.

I have to admit: the logic behind letting Bannan go eluded me. I know that they didn’t want to pay out his $500K roster bonus or $3.5 million salary, so there’s one scenario that makes the most sense to me, and it follows the oldest laws of crime fighting or of young women who marry men fifty years their senior: Follow the money. Bannan is a good DT and from what I could see on broadcast film (it isn’t the same as coaches film so they may have access to observing weaknesses that we cannot), they wanted to avoid the roster bonus, and also asked him to take a substantial pay cut for doing a pretty good job; he turned it down and he’s now moving on. There’s not much else to say. I wish the big guy the best, and I enjoyed seeing him play as a Bronco. Good luck, JB.

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The Daily Lard 3-9-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Fox spoke at a business breakfast yesterday at the Pepsi Center and made some strange promise that "we'll be in the championship on some level very soon," whatever that means. Once again, Fox spoke of the parallels between his arrivals in Denver this year and in Carolina in 2002, while John Elway talked again about re-signing Champ Bailey. Both men basically said that the decision to re-sign Kevin Vickerson and release Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams was about fielding a younger group.

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You Got Served, Bunker-Hill-is-open style

Happy Tuesday, friends.  Thanks for joining me for another Serving.  As Doug noted yesterday, the topic of the week is the CBA, and we’re going to get into that some today.  We’re also going to “sneak in some football” like Peter King did.  I'm happy because I just got an email saying that Bunker Hill Golf Course is open today for outdoor play.  Even though I'm stuck at work, it puts me in a very good mood, because it reminds me that spring is upon us, even those of us who live in Cleveland.  So armed with that good mood, a slow news week, and a drug called Charlie Sheen that's laced with concentrated Tiger Blood, let's get this thing started.  Ready….. BEGIN!!!

1.  The NFLPA and the NFL continue to negotiate, and I know only one thing for sure.  There won’t be a lockout.  There will either be a deal or a decertification.  The fact that the NFLPA has to decertify in advance of the end of the current CBA to stay in David Doty’s court, and to prevent a lockout dictates that a lockout will never even be an option.

There was some question whether players would actually use the decertification option, but I’m here to tell you, they were ready to do so last Thursday, and they spooked the owners into extending the CBA, first for a day, and then for a week, which continues.  Somebody asked last week if I thought that decertification was some kind of despicable pre-planned tactic by the union, and I never found time to respond in the comments.  The answer is that I don’t think it’s any more despicable than a lockout.  Each side is appropriately a self-interested actor, and has certain tactics they can employ.  It just so happens that the NFLPA has the upper hand right now, tactically speaking.

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