First comeback Lard 12-27-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver won yesterday for just the fourth time all year, breaking a five-game losing streak as Tim Tebow earned his first NFL victory, fourth-quarter comeback and 300-yard game. The Broncos overcame a 17-0 halftime deficit and trailed the Texans 23-10 as the final period began - Denver dominated the fourth quarter as Tebow threw for one touchdown (a 23-yard catch-and-run by Correll Buckhalter) and ran the game winner in from six yards out with 3:11 remaining. Tebow finished the game with 308 yards passing and 27 yards rushing to go with the two touchdowns and an ugly first-drive interception in the Texans' endzone. Over the course of his first two NFL starts, Tebow has put forth an impressive 93.4 QB rating with an eye-popping 9.9 YPA while generating an average of 8.7 yards of adjusted total offense per chance*, along with a TD on 6.1% of his chances. By comparison, previous starting QB Kyle Orton has averaged 7.2 YPA and 6.2 yards adjusted total offense, and a 3.6 TD% passing and rushing over the past two seasons.

Small sample? Yes, of course. Stats we'd never have considered pre-Tebow? Absolutely. But that's the point - Tebow brings a different dimension to the Denver offense via his ability to make plays on the run. So, is it more fair to compare Tebow to Jay Cutler, Orton's predecessor? Cutler averaged 7.4 YPA, 6.2 yards adjusted total offense and scored a TD 4.1% of the time as Denver's starting QB - numbers very much like those Orton has produced as a Bronco, and also significantly less productive than Tebow. Again, small sample. But these are the numbers that matter, if you're in the business of trying to win football games.

* I've taken PFR's Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt (which factors in TDs and INTs) and also added in rushing stats. Chance = Pass Attempts + Sacks + Rush Attempts

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Gut Reactions - Week 16, Broncos-Texans

ralphie And God said, "Let there be two halves."

How could the Broncos look so bad in the 1st half and so good in the 2nd?

They let their quarterback play one on TV.

The first half was one of screens (slip, bubble, running back, silver?).  The Broncos' coaching staff either didn't trust their young quarterback or they simply wanted to continue to take his development as slowly as possible.  Did they realize they were facing the league's worst defense in the Houston Texans?

The 17-0 deficit was actually a blessing in disguise.  It forced the Broncos' coaches to finally unleash the Tebow.  In the 2nd half, they had no other choice.    

Tim Tebow may be a lot of things (young, inexperienced, and still under development), but there's one thing he's not--boring.  He gave the Broncos energy today.  Energy to burn.  

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A teachable moment: the screen game

Have you ever noticed how bad the Broncos are at defending the screen game?  Seemingly, for years, it’s been a consistent weakness.  The main reason is that they have mostly had to rush more than four men to get any pressure on the opposing Quarterback.  A secondary cause is that the Broncos have rarely fielded good tackling teams over the last 25 years or so.  Even in today’s victory against the Texans, numerous screens were successfully run against the Broncos.  It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

The other side of that coin is how you can frustrate the other team by maximizing the effectiveness of your own screen game.  This has never really been an area of strength for the Broncos, either, over the last 25 years.  The reason why is the Quarterback, going back to John Elway, and continuing through the recently-ended Kyle Orton era.  The Broncos just haven’t ever had guys who were very comfortable or consistent with setting up the screen game, so a potentially devastating weapon has often not been used much.

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Broncos guaranteed 2nd- to 6th-pick overall

Wins by Denver, Cincinnati, Washington and Detroit today have assured that the Broncos will select no worse than 6th overall in next April's draft. However, with the Broncos' victory over the Texans, the Carolina Panthers have now won are now locked into the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes first overall choice. A loss at home next Sunday to San Diego would ensure that Denver picks 2nd overall, while a victory could drop them potentially as low as 6th, behind Carolina, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas and one of either Arizona or San Francisco.

Week 16 Open Thread

Enjoy the games everyone, and Go (umm, play well and lose) Broncos!!!

The Jesus, The Generator and the Experts - Week 16

What's worse than fruitcake on Christmas?

Having that fruitcake Peter King this close to you this late in the season.

As usual, we stack up a Random Number Generator (RNG) and my cat (Jesus Quintana) against some experts and the staff. 

At the end of the year, we'll have some statistical lessons for everyone.  Until that time,  there's two more weeks of trying to finish ahead of King.

Let's see how things went last week.

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What to root for Lard 12-26-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! With Arizona's last-second win last night, the Broncos are now assured a top-3 pick if they should win exactly one of their remaining games. If they lose both games, Denver will get a top-2 pick, and if Carolina also beats Atlanta next week, the Broncos would pick 1st overall. Two wins by Denver would bring several other teams into the equation and could drop the Broncos to as low as the 8th pick.

In other words, it would be disastrous for the Broncos to win their last two games. They will have lost 11 games, gotten their head coach fired, enraged fans and become the butt of jokes nationwide, only to be picking perhaps 8th overall. This scenario would likely preclude Denver from the ability to select one of the top defensive linemen or cornerbacks who are expected to enter the draft (without trading up to do so).

Now, obviously it is very difficult to root against one's own team. In fact, I find it pretty much impossible myself. But our current situation allows us to not get too upset when a play goes badly, ie. a Bronco drops a pass or the Texans score, get mad for a second and then think "Top-2 Pick". Really, we need it. Whether it's for the chance to draft Andrew Luck or trade him for a bounty of picks, or to take someone like Da'Quan Bowers, Nick Fairley, Patrick Peterson, or Prince Amukamara, going 1-1 or 0-2 between today and next Sunday is crucial. As an aside, how neat would it be to have a pair of starting cornerbacks next season named Champ and Prince? So, of course - root for the Broncos to win and for Tim Tebow to show progress, but if/when they lose, don't sweat it. We'll be right where we want to be...

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The Daily Lard 12-25-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! To those of you who are celebrating today, we here at IAOFM would like to wish you a Merry Christmas! Enjoy the day, eat well, be safe and please don't drive drunk. As always, thanks so much to all of you for being here - we appreciate your readership.

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The Playbook Abides: Tebow(etheus) Unbound - Part 4

Broncos, Gators, and Tebow fans of the world, unite!  This is our final installment of Tebow(etheus) Unbound.

Today we're looking at Tebow's final four throws (13-16) from Sunday's game.

You can go back and read Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 if you'd like.  Or jump right into today's breakdance breakdown.  At the end of today's piece, as an added bonus, I gathered my summary thoughts on Tebow.  I thought it was time to finally take a stand on him.

For those Raiders fans who can't read wait until the end, I'll put it this way:  I think the guy can play.

Yes, after watching all of his throws from last Sunday dozens and dozens of times, I'm pushing all of my chips to the center of the table and I'm betting on Tebow.  Sure, he didn't play with more than a quarter of the playbook.  Sure, the sample size was small.  Sure, he's going to struggle like other rookies have.  And sure, the easiest thing to do is to sit on the fence so that I can later claim I was right about Tebow, no matter what direction the Broncos go.  But after watching each of these throws dozens of times, I'm confident in his abilities to be the Broncos' quarterback of the future.

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Hack the halls Lard 12-24-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's like clockwork, folks. Another day, another player hits IR. Another sunrise, another glaring bit of journalistic bumbling from the DP. Yesterday, Mike Klis wrote that Kyle Orton is only owed $2.879 million in guarantees in 2011 based upon the one-year extension he signed with Denver in August. Yet, Klis originally reported the contract extension as providing Orton with $5.5 million in guarantees for 2011. The same info was given on the DP Blog at the time.

Also yesterday, Jeff Legwold wrote that "original reports" put Orton's guarantees as being worth $8.1 million between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He says that a review of NFLPA documents says that Orton is only due $2.879 million next year. No correction, no admission that the Denver Post was reporting incorrect information from their ironclad sources. Sure - this is of a much smaller magnitude, but it's otherwise the same as agent mouthpieces Jason La Canfora reporting the signing bonus attached to Donovan McNabb's contract as being worth $40 million. If we can't depend upon beat reporters to get simple facts like this straight, or own up to them when they've been hoodwinked by self-serving player agents, then exactly what service are they providing to us, their readers?

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