Fat Camp: Intricacies of cornerback play

It’s become common in recent times to say that the quarterback, left tackle and rush linebacker are the three most important parts when constructing a team, but that hasn’t always been the case. When John Madden used to talk about team building, he was very firm that the two most important things were your offensive line (especially the left tackle, but you need the whole group to be anywhere from solid to exceptional) and the cornerback slot. There’s good reason to still see things that way.  How important is the defensive secondary? Just consider these numbers:

  • 1977 - NFL teams ran 14,650 times (57.7%) and passed/were sacked 10,741 times (42.3%)
  • 1978 - NFL teams ran 16,075 times and passed/were sacked 12,850 times (55.6% vs. 44.4%)
  • 2010 - NFL teams ran 13,920 times and passed/were sacked 18,399 times (43.1% vs. 56.9%)

You easily get the idea: it’s not news that the NFL’s passing game has been bolstered since the (in)famous 1978 rule change that permitted offensive linemen to hold, as long as it was within certain parameters. That rule change began a long series of decisions that put the power in the hands of the offenses in order to make games more exciting to the fans.

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Courtroom Lard 4-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Today is the first big day in the players' antitrust suit against the league (Brady v. NFL) to try and end the lockout. As Andrew Brandt points out, Judge Susan Nelson has the power in this case to halt the lockout (which would then be subject to appeal), allow it to continue, defer to the National Labor Relations Board (unlikely), or she could even order the two sides to undergo more mediation towards a settlement. Although Brandt says it's hard to figure out which way Judge Nelson may turn (unlike the predictable Judge David Doty), he thinks the lattermost option makes the most sense.

Meanwhile, Albert Breer writes that several of the most important figures in the case don't think it important enough to attend, including Commissioner Goodell, his incendiary head counsel Jeff Pash, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. However, it is expected that DeMaurice Smith, David Boies and Von Miller will be present. Aren't you excited for all of the relentless TV coverage from outside the courtroom starting today?!?! Hopefully you've got plenty popcorn. Yay legal wrangling!!!

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You Got Served - UConn FTW edition

Happy Tuesday, friends, and welcome to a Great day to be from Connecticut edition of You Got Served.  As you can imagine, I was tied up for most of Monday evening, so this is going to be shorter than usual, but since it didn’t really cost you anything, I was thinking you’d be happy enough with it anyway.  Armed with home-state pride, a minor snakebite buzz, and the knowledge that I’m unlikely to wind down enough to fall asleep until about 3 AM, we’re getting underway.  Ready…. BEGIN!!

1.  In case you hadn’t heard, not much of substance has been going on in the NFL lately, and a couple weeks ago, I swore off speculating on the CBA situation until something real happens.  I knew in a small way that I was handicapping my ability to find interesting football topics during the lockout, but I didn’t quite fully appreciate the gravity of the decision.

Of course, I’m a stubborn SOB, so I am sticking to my guns, so add that to the more obvious reasons I’m hoping for an injunction in the next couple weeks.  Your boy needs something to write about.

Something interesting beyond the glorious Connecticut victory happened today, actually.  I made a deal on a new place to live and decided to rent a townhouse in Westlake, which is one of the nicest suburbs of Cleveland.  A key feature of the new place is that I am able to get DirecTV and fire Time Warner Cable, which is the corporate personification of awfulness.

I didn’t exactly announce this during the OneManFootball era, but a key reason that I was less prolific as a writer in 2010 than I had been the previous two seasons was that I didn’t have access to nearly as many games.  I have a policy that I don’t comment on football that I haven’t seen with my own eyes, so I honestly had less to say.

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Visitation Lard 4-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers visited Dove Valley yesterday along with Temple safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, while A&M linebacker Von Miller is due in today. Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley is expected tomorrow, with other visits this week coming from Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Washington linebacker Mason Foster and Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin. In total, there are 13 player meetings scheduled for this week. Meanwhile, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton will be visiting the Broncos in two weeks.

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Scouting the Broncos: Tight ends

As we covered last week, the Broncos are well-stocked at wide receiver; meanwhile, the tight end position is somewhat more of a cipher. This is the position that many fans consider the least important on the field. On the other hand, the legendary Sid Gillman said that with two good TEs you could control the entire middle of the field. The comment may be a little dated, but it’s still fair to note that you can use TEs mainly as blockers, send them underneath when you need three or so yards, throw them up the seam against Cover 2, or employ them primarily as receivers with a wide spectrum of routes - and, you can still use them as blockers. You can set them out in a three-TE set that’s sometimes called a ‘Magic 3’, with a good blocking/receiving WR and a RB/FB who can block, run or receive to drive the other defense nuts and who can run or receive a pass in multiple ways out of that formation. However - that’s not how new Broncos coach John Fox tends to like to use them, and whatever happens will take that into account. The point here is, though, the TE position has long been underestimated and has a world of approaches and uses.

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The Daily Lard 4-4-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his MMQB today, Peter King focuses in on the quarterback class, which Mel Kiper is calling the wackiest he's seen. There are quite a few notable circumstances, with guys staying in school a year later than expected and affecting the draft in a major way - Jake Locker and Andrew Luck, for instance. PK finds out a bit more about Ryan Mallett, although none of it firsthand (the QB wouldn't talk to him) and, like everyone else, thinks Warren Moon was just a bit off base in his comments last week. Plus, he claims Locker will go earlier than everyone thinks (didn't everyone just raise his "stock" after his pro day workout?).

King goes on to write that Da'Quan Bowers' knee issues could drop him into the lower half of the first round and reminds us that recent newsmakers Dez Bryant and Aqib Talib had those classic pre-draft "character concerns" that perhaps aren't as overblown as we'd all like to think (Perrish *cough* Cox *cough*).

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The Daily Lard 4-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Not that we've ever come out and branded ourselves as Fair & Balanced™ but perhaps some levity is due after yesterday's somber Lard. Thankfully, Wesley Woodyard has come through with some comic Broncos gold; he announced via Twitter last night that he'd posted on YouTube his own spoof of teammate Brian Dawkins. As Woodyard explains, the video was created during training camp last year, and it involves multiple costumes for him and clearly a good deal of production help. It's quite brilliant, especially the Wolverine-clawed butt scratching...

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The really, really blind side: 18-game schedule

An 18-game schedule may be off the table in the current battle between the owners and the players.  Until we get the official word, however, I'll just assume that Roger Goodell is profoundly concerned with the safety of the players...

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RIP Shane Dronett Lard 4-2-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The family of the late Shane Dronett, a former Broncos 2nd-round draft pick, has finally received some closure regarding the behavioral deterioration that led to his suicide two years ago. Researchers at Boston University have determined that Dronett was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the same brain disease that had previously felled former NFL players Mike Webster, Andre Waters, Justin Strzelczyk, Tom McHale, Terry Long, John Grimsley, possibly Dave Duerson and countless unknown others.

Meanwhile, another disturbing and eye-opening story from Jeanne Marie Laskas was published in the March issue of GQ; this one details the day-to-day struggles of former Vikings star LB Fred McNeill, an accomplished attorney in his post-playing days who is now a shell of his old self. Laskas' first article on the subject chronicled the discovery of CTE by Dr. Bennet Omalu (a forensic pathologist) and his subsequent blackballing by the NFL and its concussion committee, which was (darkly comically) headed by a rheumatologist, Dr. Elliot Pellman. We (not the royal) strongly encourage you to read all three of these articles, on Omalu, McNeill and Dronett; I've linked to Laskas' first piece before, and I will surely do so again.

Writers and readers alike, we are all here thanks to our love for the sport of football, but some things are bigger than the orange and blue uniforms we root for; the men who wear them are losing their minds and their lives in the name of playing a game, enduring countless head injuries for an eight-second appearance on SportsCenter or our patron saint's old Jacked Up! segment. Something has to change, and if that means watching an NFL that is far different in nature than the one we have all become quite familiar, then so be it. These players and their families are paying a price far greater than whatever glory and compensation playing in the NFL has provided them with.

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You Got Served - More rosterbation

Happy Friday, friends, and welcome to part two of Ted’s Grand Rosterbation Exercise.  I haven’t gone blind yet, so maybe it’s just a myth.  Whatevs… I’ll risk it.  Armed with a starting point of 20/15 eyesight (thanks to the fine people at LASIKPlus), the comfort of having completed two midterms this week, and the home state pride of seeing both UConn’s men’s and women’s basketball teams in the Final Four (again), I’m getting this thing underway.  Ready….. BEGIN!!!

I came with some serious mockery last week, and I decided that I’d close the circle today and create and discuss my conception of a Rational Actor roster for the Broncos.  First, let’s revisit where we are vis-à-vis the Draft:

  • We traded Kyle Orton to San Francisco for a 3rd-round pick, and a conditional 2012 pick that could be as high as another 3rd-rounder.
  • When Carolina took Cam Newton first overall, we sold off the #2 pick to the team that wanted Blaine Gabbert the most, the Arizona Cardinals.  To move down to #5, we acquired #38 and #69, as well as a 3rd-rounder in 2012.  (Yes, that’s a reasonable deal.  Think of the Giants/Chargers Manning/Rivers deal in 2004, and you’ll see it’s comparable.)
  • We drafted the following players:

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