Fat Camp - Sometimes a Sam isn’t just a Sam

Happy Friday, friends.  Today we’re going to talk about defensive schemes and why the people making noise about Von Miller being more of a fit in a 3-4 don’t really know what the hell they’re talking about.  Yay!  Ted is going to tell us all how much smarter he is than the football MSM.  That’s never happened before, right?  (Don’t answer that.)

Anyway, let me start by reiterating a point that I made on Wednesday.  The term 4-3 simply means a personnel grouping, consisting of four defensive linemen and three linebackers.  It’s not a scheme, in and of itself; there is no monolithic 4-3 concept that everybody who uses four linemen and three linebackers employs.

John Fox keeps hinting at the fact that the base personnel grouping is pretty meaningless to strategy, but our friends at the Denver Post are too thick to realize what he’s saying.  They only know what they know, even if it’s wrong.  A guy like Jeff Legwold, who passionately bases his opinions on what “most/many NFL people” tell him, doesn’t even know what “5-technique” means.  Obviously, neither does John “The Professor (At Bonita’s School of Toupee Design)” Clayton.

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Setting Woody’s record straight (someone’s gotta do it) Lard 5-6-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Channel 3 Sports in Arizona is reporting that the Cardinals have had "preliminary contact" with the Broncos about acquiring Kyle Orton. The report also states that Denver believes the Cards would only be interested in Orton if they were unable to trade for Eagles backup Kevin Kolb.

Meanwhile, Orton has apparently been working out with his Broncos teammates in Denver. The players have yet to conduct formal practices, but honestly that's completely besides the point. Anyone suppose Woodrow is going to come forth with some sort of apology/mea culpa after his column from yesterday? Well, here's what the standup DP did: they removed the little part about Orton playing golf at Bandon Dunes from the column and slipped this little nugget in at the bottom:

Editor's note: Woody Paige originally reported that Orton was playing golf in Oregon. Orton is working out in Denver, according to Judianne Atencio of ProLink Sports.

Of course, a correction like this one is only going to reach folks who hadn't already read the column yesterday. How many OCD folks like me are revisiting it (to link it here)? Can someone who gets the hard copy of the DP today tell us if there's a separate note of correction somewhere? Obviously, it remains to be seen what Woody does to address his mistake directly, but perhaps some of the "eight hours" he claims he spent researching defensive tackles would have been put to better use confirming Kyle Orton's whereabouts...

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Brian Xanders improves the odds and gets a ton of manly love

Using probability theory and 20 years of draft data, last week we calculated the odds of the Broncos nabbing four three-year starters out of this year's draft.

Our conclusion was that they had a 20.37% chance.

This calculation was based on both the total number of picks (that's seven, Jeff Legwold) and the position of each pick itself.

Brian Xanders had other ideas, however.  He not only looked the part of GM (sporting a tailored navy suit in the Broncos' war room), but he parlayed seven picks into nine.

Forget the silly and meanlingless points charts that NFL teams supposedly use to evaluate trades.  Let's get to the heart of the issue, and the goal the Broncos had going into this draft, shall we?

Did the X-Man improve the probability that the Broncos would get four starters out of it?

Intuitively, you probably have a sense of the answer, but let's look at the numbers once again.

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The Daily Lard 5-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Woody Paige thinks the Broncos' players should be gathering en masse to practice and basically points the finger at Kyle Orton to take charge in doing so. Aside from the possibility that Paige is just doing his best to turn more people against Orton and thus run him out of town (anyone wonder what the unassuming guy did to Woodrow?), it's an interesting point to consider. Orton is in a most curious position - he's the team's labor rep, is under contract for just one season (albeit for over $7 million), has been the focus of trade speculation for several months, and has been discussed by the Broncos' front office first as being the starting QB to more recently being just one half of an open competition for the job. Orton is also competing with a guy in Tim Tebow who sells jerseys and tickets and is his polar opposite in both his image as a player and in demeanor, and the only way Orton could ever win in the court of public opinion (for what that's worth) is by winning big.

That's not to say Orton is in an unwinnable position, nor to speculate that he's already assuming his time is up in Denver - he's a professional athlete and has competitive pride; we're not talking about some pushover who just wants to collect a paycheck. But what nobody would ever call Orton (at least from the outsider's view) is a rah-rah guy or an obvious leader of men. So my questions are these: Would it be within Kyle Orton's character to call up his 80 or so teammates and try to gather them up? Does he have the "pull" with his teammates to actually get them to show up? What does Orton have personally to gain by doing so? Is it reasonable to expect of Orton what Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Matt Cassel and others have been up to? Keep in mind, there haven't been (to my knowledge) stories about Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler (just threw that in for a chuckle) rounding up their mates to play. I happen to think Woody is making something of nothing in pursuit of his own agenda, but I'd love to hear what y'all think...

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Talkin’ noise and the NFL Draft

Reality television (and to a lesser extent, Web 2.0) have had some interesting sociological effects.  For one thing, I believe that they’ve fundamentally changed the way people communicate and tell stories.  I don’t mean the medium as much as the delivery style.  How many times in the last 10 years has somebody been telling you a story, and it sounds like they’re telling a camera guy on The Amazing Race?  It’s the soundbite era, because people see edited-down soundbites on TV and internalize a thought that that is how people effectively communicate.  It’s actually the way that people can pass vapid thought fragments back and forth on the way to Idiocracy coming true.

Another effect has been to wrongly convince everybody that their opinion is valid, and that it matters.  We’ve moved well past Curtis Jackson of Action News Live at Five asking some dude named Cletus what the tornado sounded like.  I was flipping through Facebook a couple days ago, in the wake of President Obama’s statement about the demise of Osama Bin Laden.  Everybody is now a Middle East expert, including many who likely couldn’t find it on a map, or name four countries there off the top of their heads. 

Trivia Question:  What continent would you say the Middle East is on?  (I’ll share my thoughts later on.)  You have people who are vastly unqualified to comment saying that it doesn’t matter that Bin Laden is dead, because he had time to train others.  That may be true, but I doubt it; it sounded like he’s been holed up in a compound in Abbottabad for six years or so.  You have others spreading a fake Martin Luther King, Jr. peacenik quote, and still others stuck on the Obama-is-a-Muslim nonsense, and expressing surprise that he’d kill “one of his own.”  Democrats wanted to credit Obama, and Republicans were struggling to find a tone that celebrated the success while de-emphasizing the President’s creditability.  (They largely have failed, because it’s just silly; sometimes, politicians in the party you don’t like do good, and this is one of those times if you’re a Republican.)

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The Daily Lard 5-4-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Apologies for the late Lard of late; I've been out of town for a few days, and we'll be back on the normal schedule tomorrow. Tim Tebow was the keynote speaker at John Lynch's scholarship/awards luncheon for area middle- and high-school students, and he spoke more about his workout program so far this offseason. Tebow says he's been focusing on play-action passing and has been able to spend time with "most of the guys," whatever that means. Of course, he's now got a new playbook to study courtesy of Mike McCoy. Here are Andrew Mason and Gray Caldwell's stories on the luncheon.

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8th Circuit grants owners request for expedited appeal

Per Adam Schefter:

Circle June 3 on your calendear. 8th circuit has granted owners' request for expedited appeal, and it will be heard that day in St. Louis.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

A Second Helping of Von Miller & the Aaron Curry Myth

Some men are born with great blog entries; others have great blog entries thrust upon them.

The latter is the case today.  One of our staunchest legionaries, Fat Man member NCM42, recently asked:

How much do Von Miller and Aaron Curry compare?

It's a great question.  Expect to hear it often, especially from fans whose team didn't select Miller.  

Implicit in this question is the fear that MIller won't live up to his billing as the #2 overall pick. That's because Aaron Curry, the 4th pick overall two years ago, hasn't become a dominante force in the NFL.

On the surface, the two players seem similar: both were freakishly athletic 3-4 outside linebackers; both were the can't-miss players of their drafts; both were considered low-character risks.  The most important correlation, however, is that they were both drafted by 4-3 teams to play the strong-side linebacker position, something neither had done before.

In short, the fear is that a position change could spell BUST, without using the letters O-A-K-L-A-N-D.  

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The Daily Lard 5-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Klis lets us in on some of the Broncos' pre-draft thinking/strategies: Denver did indeed hope to trade back from #2 to a team hot after Blaine Gabbert, whether it be the Bills, Bengals, Cards, Niners, Titans and Skins. Unfortunately, those calls never came in earnest; Klis also writes that the Broncos were zeroed in on Von Miller since early February and were indeed willing to trade back a few spots from #2 in hopes of loading up on more picks and still having a chance to go with Nick Fairley. Plus, Denver couldn't turn down the value they perceived in Quinton Carter in the fourth round to pick up a DT there, and the team was in fact also interested in Arkansas TE D.J. Williams when they decided to trade up for Julius Thomas. Finally, Klis writes in response to an apparently incorrect PFT post (go figure, an overblown headline at PFT...) about the Falcons/Broncos that while the two teams discussed the possibility of swapping first-round picks long ago, Atlanta never made an offer.

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Draft perspective: lines eat yardage

Trudging off the field after the Colts' stomach-churning loss to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV (which concluded the 2009 season), Indianapolis Coach Jim Caldwell was being besieged by inner questions. By the time that he’d reached the podium for his obligatory postgame meeting with the media, he still felt the same way that he had during that long, sad walk. Asked about why he thought that the Colts lost, you had the impression that the media expected that he’d talk about Peyton Manning’s late, final interception or the valiant but losing effort of the defense. He did neither.

“We lost the game because of the offensive line,” he said bluntly.

Bill Polian, now entering his 14th season as GM of the Colts, has been at the top of the NFL for a long time. Free agency in 2010 was an odd affair, due to the lack of a CBA - not a lot of offensive linemen were on the market, and of them, scarcity meant that most were overpriced. When the 2010 Draft came around, though, Polian used his first pick (31st overall) on TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes to provide a possible successor to Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis. It was a sensible move - Hughes was highly rated and both of their DEs are getting on in NFL years. Next came Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer with the 63rd-overall pick in the second round. Pick #94 was spent on Southern Cal cornerback Kevin Thomas in the third. You could argue for each guy individually - but the biggest issue during that SB loss went unregarded.

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