Digesting the Packers

Happy Friday friends, and welcome to the first ever edition of Digesting that was written in the air or on an iPad.  It's been a hellaciously busy week as expected, but I'm heartened by the fact that as soon as we got over the clouds on the way out of Cleveland, the overcast gloomy view vanished and it was nothing but sunshine.

This week it's the Green Bay Packers in lovely Wisconsin, land of cow patties and beer farts.  I'm not exactly breaking news to say that this will be challenging, and I'd go so far as to say that I think Brian Burke's model which Doug referenced this morning may be over-optimistic in giving the Broncos a 25% win probability.  I've got my rubber gloves on (I lease them with an option to buy) and I'm ready to conduct the examination, so without further adieu, let's get it on.

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The Daily Lard 9-30-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Surely this is going to bring some cries of diva, but Brandon Lloyd wants to see more deep targets in his direction. He does have 10 catches in just two games played (he missed the Bengals game with a groin injury), but his average reception has gone for just 12.7 yards, a pittance relative to his 18.8-yard average from last season.

Lloyd blames the team's purported commitment to the run, while John Fox says Lloyd just hasn't been healthy enough (probably true). Yet, the Broncos have a split of 62% pass and 38% run so far - they just haven't attacked deep, or as Ted would say, they haven't taken the top off of the defense. To wit, the Broncos and Kyle Orton have only attempted 13 deep passes through three games, completing five of them. Meanwhile, the team has just 7 passes that have gone for 20 or more yards (including YAC) which ties them for 8th-fewest in the league. Meanwhile, the Patriots have had 22 such plays and the Cowboys 20 of them, although the high-octane Packers have had just 9 passes go for 20+ yards and have only attempted 17 deep passes.

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Fat Camp: Screen passes

Denver's defense has bitten - and thus been bitten - a few times on screens this year. The screen that Denver has been biting on is the slow screen, which is sometimes called the conventional screen - it's hard to run and not that many teams use it much. The reason for that is simple - once the team has been together for a while, they usually won't bite on the slow screen.

It's a very hard play to run and time properly. If you're a defensive lineman and you're suddenly not being blocked, there's a reason for it and it generally isn't clean living and good fortune - it's because they're trying to make a sap out of you. Denver has been terribly undisciplined defensively for years now, and I've been a bit disappointed in the lack of progress there - but I do believe that if we give DC Dennis Allen a full season he’ll put a stop to a lot of it, and I doubt that it will be as much of an issue. It’s early in the season, but Broncos DC Dennis Allen looks like one of the finds of the offseason.

Every team needs a screen pass or three on hand to keep the on-rushing defenders honest or to make them pay when they’re not. There are five screens that are generally considered as such - and there is an additional option called a ‘smoke route’ that I’ll also cover, since it does much the same thing - run properly, it makes the defense pay for their tendency towards aggression.

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The Daily Lard 9-29-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver finally got Marcus Thomas back onto the practice field along with Champ Bailey and Elvis Dumervil, albeit in limited fashion for all three. It's been a rough go for Thomas, who suffered a pec injury during training camp and recovered in time for Week 1 before straining a groin during his conditioning test. Obviously, it could take him a while to get back into playing shape - so even if he's able to play on Sunday at all, figure his playing time to be severely limited.

Meanwhile, Knowshon Moreno and D.J. Williams were full participants yesterday, and it will be interesting to see how their respective returns affect how much action Willis McGahee and Wesley Woodyard see in Green Bay. Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas remain sidelined and are unlikely to return prior to Week 7 (following Denver's bye).

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Fattening Up on J.D. Walton

Like several readers who have commented here, I actually enjoyed most of Denver's game Sunday against the Titans. I prefer winning as much as anyone, but I’d like to remind folks of some old words of wisdom. When the fans talked last year, they said that all they wanted was a team that was competitive every game. The Broncos have been, and whether or not their schedule will be tougher, that’s a good thing to see. Von Miller showed that wisdom doesn’t always require age:

We’re not going to let this stop our work habits or slow us down. We are going to get back in the lab tomorrow and analyze the film and keep taking steps to be the team that we want to be.

Getting better is what Denver has to be focused on. I found some research that indicated that in Great Britain they did a study on soaking in tubs and pools at exactly 100-101 degrees for 1.5 to 3 hours a day. It lets me keep up on my reading, and I have to admit - I’m learning to just let things go and relax more.

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The Daily Lard 9-28-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As Legwold reminds us, it's getting about time for the Denver offense to start putting together some longer drives to give its own defense a breather, and to shorten the game for them. Revisiting the drive data I've been going over after games, the Broncos have had 22 possessions the past two weeks excluding the kneeldown to end the win over Cincy. Of these 22 possessions, six resulted in scores, while all 16 non-scoring drives have consumed 2:46 or less of game clock, and the only drive among the 16 that lasted longer than six plays ended in an interception (the one that sealed Sunday's loss). A staggering 10 of the 16 non-scoring drives were three-or-less and out.

Yes, the defense has overall been quite impressive, at least relative to the garbage we became accustomed to in 2008 and 2010. But it's not going to cut it against Aaron Rodgers & Co. unless the offense helps them out a bit, extends some drives and kills some clock, not to mention scores some points. If not, it's going to be a long Sunday for all of us...

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You Got Served - Losing respectably

Happy Rebuilding Tuesday, friends.  Since I got my mind right last week and remembered what was really going on, I found myself significantly less upset about Sunday’s game than I’ve historically been about Broncos losses.  I also decided that I think Foxball is a great way to rebuild, because as TJ pointed out Sunday, it makes it hard to get blown out of games.  As much as I can be a pretty good sport about losing 17-14 on the road when I expected practically that exact result, it remains to be seen how I do with something like the 43-13 stinkbomb against Arizona last season.

In any case, this might be the busiest week that I have all season, because it’s my month-end close, I have a test in my MBA class on Thursday night, and I’m heading out with my girlfriend for a weekend in Key West on Friday morning.  I was a crew member of the original USS Spruance (DD-963), which was the lead ship of the Spruance class, and as such I was invited to attend the commissioning of the second USS Spruance (DDG-111), the 61st ship of the Arleigh Burke class, which will take place on Saturday evening.  I’m going to do the best  I can today and Friday, and I’ll be watching the game on my iPad on Sunday but no other games, because you know, it’s Key West.  Anyway, it’s down to football as time allows.  Ready…BEGIN!!

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The Daily Lard 9-27-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Plenty of injury updates from Mike Klis: Denver is expecting to have Elvis Dumervil, Champ Bailey, D.J. Williams and Knowshon Moreno back in action this week for their game in Green Bay. Obviously, they'll need all the help they can get, so these returns could not come soon enough, although whether having Williams take over for his worthy replacement Wesley Woodyard isn't so clear.

In more great news, Marcus Thomas is expected to practice this week but perhaps on a limited basis - it remains to be seen if  he's anywhere near the proper shape to play after missing most of camp with a strained pec and then missing the first three games with a groin injury. Julius Thomas got rid of his walking boot and could be back next week against San Diego, while the other injured Thomas (Demaryius) is not expected back until Week 7 (after the bye).

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Chewing the Fat: Week 3 - Broncos at Titans

The IAOFM staff discuss the Denver Broncos' 17-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans

TJ: Is it just me or does Elway seem to need a million radio and TV shows?

Ted: I don't really have much of a sense of it, being out of the market.  Is he doing a lot?

TJ: The dude sure does seem to need to be in front of the cameras. He has like 5 weekly deals. Perhaps the real appeal of Fox and Xanders is their deference to Emperor John

Ted: Part of Elway's job is definitely a sales job. They should be selling rebuilding more clearly, but I suspect that they think that Elway's love and goodwill will shield their secret rebuilding program

Doc: Is their rebuilding secret? I thought that Elway was pretty up front about a 3+ year rebuilding?

Ted: Em, I think their initial rhetoric suggested that, but that the messaging since then has strayed way away from it. Well, that's a bad start in staying on schedule

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The Daily Lard 9-26-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! So, welcome to Foxball, everyone. After falling to the Titans in Tennessee 17-14 (box score), Denver's 1-2 record consists of two three-point losses and a two-point victory. Once again, the Broncos' defense did enough to win, and a remarkable lack of discipline by the Titans (11 penalties for 80 yards and three huge first downs) kept Denver in a game where its offense was outclassed (231 net yards on 63 plays for a paltry 3.7-yard average).

Last week against the Bengals, Denver's offense produced two long scoring drives and two quick TDs but sputtered on eight possessions which each took four plays or fewer and consumed 2:13 or less of game clock. Yesterday was much of the same, as the team managed two TD drives but couldn't sustain its other eight possessions, which maxed out at 2:46 worth of game clock. Willis McGahee could gain only 52 yards on 22 attempts, while Kyle Orton's 39 passes garnered a measly 173 yards. That, my friends, is the epitome of inefficiency.

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