The Daily Lard 6-8-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Remember the negotiations that led to Champ Bailey's latest contract with Denver? You know, when Champ announced he was putting his Littleton house on the market and a few people called the esteemed vet a selfish prima donna? Well, even if Champ later admitted it was nothing more than a negotiating tactic once he was signed and delivered, it turns out he wasn't totally bluffing. That very same house of Bailey's just went into contract on Monday for what's reported as a $1.39 million sale. Just another reminder of why it's okay if Champ loses a step or two over the next few years - his wisdom and ability to disguise what he's up to is good enough to fool us, and that's not even on the field. BTW, anyone else feel like this all happened about six years ago? That's the effect of the lockout for us...

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A rabbit’s foot and a hoodie

Will John Fox be a good coach?  Will he be a great coach?  Will he be fired after two seasons?

Rather than offer up a Kool-Aid-based opinion, in which I defend Fox as a turnaround artist and the victim of bad ownership in Carolina, I thought I'd let sheer randomness take a crack at the question.

So let's start our own NFL.  You've always wanted to do that, haven't you?  Now, instead of being born an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, you can just have a team.  Yeah, I'm that nice a guy. Savor it.

The ground rules of our league are quite simple.  We don't even need to pay Roger Goodell his meager $1 salary.  The rules are as follows:

  • You have thirty-two teams
  • All of the teams have new coaches
  • Twelve out of these thirty-two teams will make the playoffs each year
  • Each team has an same probability of making the playoffs each and every year (37.5% or 12/32)
  • We play four seasons

Why four seasons?  Well, that happens to be a common contract length for a new coach.  But who's counting, eh?

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Multifaceted Lloyd Lard 6-7-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! PFF has a lengthy interview with Brandon Lloyd, and there's plenty of interesting stuff. For one, Lloyd has had quite an interesting offseason - he's been selling specialty metal to aerospace companies in what he says started "as a joke". BLloyd says that although he grew up in KC, he was not a Chiefs fan per se - yet, he was a big Nick Lowery fan - go figure. Plus, he says what gives him the ability to make so many acrobatic catches is that he actually visualizes and dreams about doing so.

Lloyd also spoke of his relationship with Josh McDaniels, who apparently had wanted the Pats to draft the WR after running his Illinois pro day. But Brandon says he's not concerned by the switch to a more defensive-minded coach in John Fox and that he'll prepare the same way he always does - plus, that he would rather win more games and catch fewer balls. He also pointed to opposing defenses' shift to Cover 2 from Cover 1 as having hurt the Broncos' passing attack later in the season and says the team was outcoached in McDaniels' final game in KC.

In addition to marveling at Tim Tebow's will and determination (and whose mechanics he says need tightening) and rehashing his past in San Fran and Washington, Lloyd thankfully says that playing football has still not become "a job" for him, and that he still enjoys the game, which he says he figures he only has 3-5 years left playing. Frankly, if Lloyd were to slip back to catching 10 or 20 balls a year I'd still like to see him in Denver, just to hear what he has to say...

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Scouting the Broncos: Safeties

As a defensive back, Denver Broncos safety Renaldo Hill has seen it all.

By all, what I mean isn’t limited to the length of his career, although that is moving into its 11th year. Hill has seen the change in the modern game to ever-increasingly pass-oriented offenses which use more of the short pass as a staple of their approach. That movement (although some teams still predominatly use the longer, Coryell-type offensive passing strategy) has led to a need for the safeties - both strong and free safeties - to have coverage skills as well as to be strong hitters. The lines between the strong and the free safety are becoming blurred, as compared to the historical versions of those positions. Hill is a good example, since he began his career in 2001 as a cornerback with the Arizona Cardinals before sliding back to safety, where he’s quietly been highly effective ever since. Brian Dawkins has said that he and Hill tend to take turns quarterbacking the defense. Both are excellent at reading the offense and calling the responses.

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The Daily Lard 6-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest MMQB column, PK says he hopes the players and owners will continue to meet sans lawyers and makes the case for said lawyers to shut the hell up. Plus, monitoring concussions - there's an iPhone app for that - PK's ridiculous shadow top 100 list, and a bunch of book reviews from King. Finally, PK points out that not only are team staffers dealing with reduced salaries, but so are NFL Films employees. Stay classy, NFL...

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Revisiting White Boy Day

Happy Sunday, friends.  Y'all remember White Boy Day, right?  Of course you do; I think some of you are still mad at me about it.  I have found it interesting how a middle-of-the-pack NFL RB - who tailed off late in the 2010 season due to overuse and led the league in fumbles while playing for a losing team - was voted the Madden coverboy.  I have posited several times over the last few years that Hillis's wide popularity is largely due to the fact that he's very rare as a caucasian tailback.  People get pissed at me for saying so, but I think all this stuff about "grit" and "blue collar" is code for "he looks like us, and we can relate to him."

I think that's fine, and that it doesn't in and of itself make anybody a racist.  People of all ethnic groups tend to naturally identify with their own, and it's an instinct-driven defense mechanism.  It's good that the world is consciously moving toward widespread racial tolerance, but it's a societal choice that we're making, and not something that happened naturally, in the sense of evolutionary biology.

So, I continue to believe that Hillis is massively popular because he's caucasian, and the majority of NFL fans are caucasian.  I have tended to think that that popularity drove the voting victory for Hillis in appearing on the cover of Madden.  It turns out that his race had little to do with his victory, at least in the final round of voting.  I know some of you are thrilled, and feel vindicated by me telling you this.  Last night, I learned how and why Hillis actually won, and I feel like I should share that information with you all, so that we all have the record straight.

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Tatooed Lard 6-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Von Miller has stirred up a bit of controversy with a tattoo he got the other day - it's a band on his arm of Pac-Man, a slice of watermelon, a dollar sign, a fried chicken leg and a Pac-Man enemy/ghost. I can't say I'm totally equipped to write about this properly, but my first reaction is that Von didn't do himself a favor with this one. While I'd like to think Miller did this to make us think about stereotypes and reflect on race relations in American society, his Twitter stream makes it seems more like he didn't quite think it through. What are your thoughts?

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When the going gets tough, the tough don’t cut payroll

The NFL lockout has given many teams an excuse to trim payroll.  Cuts (or furloughs) for coaches and staff are reported to have hit the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaquars, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Tampa Bay Bucs. 

Greedy owners?  Sure.  Greedier than other teams that aren't cutting payroll?  Perhaps.

Stupid?  Absolutely.

The Denver Broncos are one of several teams who have said they won't be cutting back.  

They should be lauded for the move, but not for some moral, ethical, or emotional argument.  They should be lauded because it's smart business.

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The Daily Lard 6-4-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Many of you will recall former Denver backup QB Matt Mauck, best known for having guided LSU to a share of the 2003 National Championship with Southern Cal as a 24-year-old junior. What you may not remember is that Mauck, who spent three years in the Cubs organization before heading to LSU, was rumored to be considering dental school over his final year of eligibility and a possible NFL career. This turned out to be untrue, and Denver selected him in the seventh round of the 2004 Draft. Mauck did not appear in a game during his one year in Denver before spending three seasons with the Titans.

So why are we talking about Mauck today? Well, his story has come full circle - following his retirement from the NFL he headed to CU's dental school, from which he graduated last week - and Mauck will be returning to the Broncos as one of their team dentists. He will be working in their dental office and be on the sideline at the Big IF in case of player injuries. Rather than the more typical path of returning to football as a coach, Mauck has now gone from minor-league baseball player, to D-1 national champion, to backup NFL QB, to team dentist. Congratulations Matt, and welcome back!

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Eighth Circuit hears lockout arguments; owners reportedly making concessions in talks

Mike Freeman of CBS Sports wrote this morning (via PFT) that the NFL's owners have made sizeable concessions this week which have resulted in significant progress toward a resolution. Freeman writes:

My highly educated guess: one of them is the owners continuing to come down significantly from their original demand of taking another $1 billion off the top of player earnings. The players always believed this was an outrageous demand and the players were right.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the two sides appeared in St. Louis today before the Eighth Circuit to argue the validity of the lockout. According to Andrew Brandt, the tenor of the hearing was a direct contrast to that which was presided over by Judge Susan Nelson and resulted in the lockout injunction. Brandt writes that the two Republican-leaning judges appeared to be "empathetic to the Owners' argument" and expects they'll rule in the league's favor.

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