You give stats a bad name - how I’ve failed to become a statistical Bon Jovi

I long ago lost my faith in the quality of Bon Jovi's work.

Yet I can't recall the exact game I stopped believing in NFL statistics.  Perhaps it's best if I tell you when I began to lose my faith.

It was last year's game when the Broncos were pulverized (yet again) by the Baltimore Ravens.  You probably remember the statistical headlines from the game.  Kyle Orton threw for over 300 yards and Brandon Lloyd went for more than 100 yards receiving.  I had already posted my Gut Reaction to the game, which like all Gut Reactions, are usually posted within fifteen minutes of a game's finish.  It was well-written, yet there was something that still haunted me.

So I hit the game tape over and over again.  It didn't take more than a few series to see the horror that was Haloti Ngata.

Ngata was dominant that day, even though he finished with only three tackles.  Play after play he dominated the Broncos' offensive line.  Ngata got gap penetration; he used the same swim move what seemed like half a dozen times (which I promptly taught to a pee-wee football team the following week); he pushed the line back into the backfield two or three yards; he was a nightmare that, to this day, probably causes Ryan Harris to wake at night in cold sweats.

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The Daily Lard 6-18-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Brandon Lloyd spoke to the guys on The Drive the other day, and he had the following to say about working out with Tim Tebow down in Florida:

I thought it was good. It’s better for morale going into the season when you see how good of shape guys are in. It’s kind of like, I want to see where dude’s at with his training and guys want to see where we’re at so we have some confidence going into the season. That’s how I took it. It was good to see that Tim’s improving on his drops, he’s improving on his timing, and within the first day we got into rhythm, within the first 20 minutes of it.

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Why Tim Tebow is the answer at QB

Happy Friday, friends.  My Tuesday article seemed to spur a lot of comments calling for Kyle Orton to remain (or re-emerge as, depending on how you look at it) the starting Quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2011.  That wasn’t really what I was driving at, and I find it interesting that the discussion took that turn.

The fact is, I am convinced that Tim Tebow should be the starting QB for the Broncos in 2011.  I don’t even think it’s a difficult decision, actually, and Tebow gives Denver the best chance to win in both the near- and long-term.

I’m a Florida Gators fan, owing mostly to my six years spent in Jacksonville, when I kind of fully caught college football fever.  I’ve seen a lot of Gators football over the last decade, so I know these guys very well.  That said, I’m never a homer just to be a homer, in terms of evaluating the pro potential of Florida players.  For example, I never would have told you that Chris Leak, a good college QB who started for four years and won a national championship, had the size or arm to be an NFL QB.  He didn’t, and as such, he’s not in the NFL.

I mention this because I’ve been publicly saying for years that Tim Tebow would be a championship QB in the NFL, and I’ve basically staked my reputation on it, to the extent that an analyst can ever be fairly judged holistically on one evaluation.  I’m that certain that I’m right, and what Tebow showed on the field over the last three games of 2010 made me that much more sure.

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The Daily Lard 6-17-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! For the Sporting News, Vinnie Iyer takes a look at what John Fox faces with his new team in trying to make them a tougher and more balanced team. Iyer writes that Fox will give Von Miller a great chance to become a dominant playmaker and expects the rookie to become a leader in Denver. Plus, he thinks Tim Tebow will win the starting QB job and could see a big year out of Elvis Dumervil as opponents will hopefully not be able to double-team him with the presence of Miller.

Sadly, Iyer omits Robert Ayers from that equation and is another writer who doesn't realize that the "ex-Browns experiment" actually worked pretty well, if nearly making the SB with the third-fewest points allowed in 2005 means anything. There are plenty of personnel moves we can/should knock Mike Shanahan for, but the acquisition of Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown and Michael Myers are not among them. But I digress; Iyer also thinks the Broncos may go after DeAngelo Williams if he is indeed a free agent, and that a successful first season for Fox would be lifting the defense to middling and finding a long-term answer at QB.

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Tweets of the Week: Customer service and Words With Friends

Time to see what the Broncos have been doing with all their free time over the past week of the lockout. As always, all Tweets are unabridged and unaltered, innocent/humorous misspellings inclusive. Have fun with them!

Not sure what was worse for Wesley Woodyard: having his credit card stolen, or having to deal with his bank's customer service rep:

I got yelled at on the phone by a costumer ser operator. He said YOU CAN NOT go over ur limit! I said it's a new card I'm calling to change...My limit can you help! Well I'd like to but sir YOU CAN NOT exceed your limit! So I say look my cc got stolen so this is a new one and I...Have to set it up and adjust this card like the old one. He says Ohhhh like he understood me and then said Sir(u guessed it) YOU CAN NOT...Go over ur limit even though u have money there NO! So I'm keepin it coo like hey just do what he says just to get ur card fixed! Wrong!...this Convo is going on for like 15mins I'm hot I'm on the beach the sand is starting to burn them Lil hairs off the top of my toe is Dat hot...So after he yells at me again I finally ask him what can I do over the Phone to change it he's like oh you wanted to change ur limit on your...Card? I'm like yesssss then he says SIR I CAN not help you! And said take yo card to CO and do and then hangs up after sayin have a nice day...So now I'm here fire hot(Mad) and burning up! 15min Convo of straight getting punked! Couldn't do a thing bout it!...the moral of the story is never call costumer ser when u r on the beach cause they might hold your money from u so u can't enjoy the beach

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The Daily Lard 6-16-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Over at Shutdown Corner, Doug Farrar provides an excellent example of what's wrong with traditional cornerback stats and how dangerous they can be in the hands of people who don't understand their limited value, namely beat writers. Basically, some fool in Pittsburgh decided to float the idea that Ike Taylor is a superior player to Nnamdi Asomugha because he racks up more tackles, passes defensed and interceptions annually. Naturally, this hack John Harris doesn't know the concept of targets didn't think about how many times the two players were targeted and declined to consider the defensive schemes the two guys play in, their respective roles within them, and how those factors influence tackle stats.

Worst of all, Harris points to the Steelers' annual success (and Oakland's lack thereof) as proof that Taylor is a better player than Asomugha. Because, you know...the quality of a single cornerback is of course the difference between winning and losing. (As an aside, I experience this at work all the time when people claim that Player A on the Yanks is better than Player B on the Mets cuz he's got ringzzz!!! or that certain guys are winnerz ZOMG!!! even though they are backups/bench players.) Truly, it's good stuff from Farrar. He gets to the crux of what's wrong with a lot of mainstream sports coverage and reminds us that we need context with our stats, and/or just better stats. So, when's Farrar going to take down one of the writers we passionately follow here?

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Broncography: Rahim Moore

When it came time for the 45th pick in April's draft, Broncos fans were in general looking for a lineman - preferably a defensive tackle, but a right tackle would have been fine with most of us. When Rahim Moore’s number was called, some fans lapsed into outright stupors - they WHAT? REALLY? What the ….? Others simply threw things at their sets, cats or walls. They didn’t need to have worried.

A little time has passed, and the Broncos' new brain trust has shown some good reasons why they’ve gone the route that they have. Perhaps most interesting to me has been keeping an archive of all the comments made by head coach John Fox, defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and linebackers coach Richard Smith as the team moves forward. I’ve also kept one on special teams coordinatorJeff Rodgers, who has specifically mentioned his pleasure in gaining two safeties, three linebackers and a couple of TEs who can fly down the field. In the broad strokes that have been drawn up for the fans' benefit, the team has avoided giving too many specifics, but has outlined just what the Broncos want to do to get back into the role of a perennial playoff prospect. Four things headed the list, mostly for the defense:

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The Daily Lard 6-15-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Albert Breer writes that the labor negotiations are expected to continue today in MD, and that a new deal could possibly be reached within two to four weeks. A memo went out to the owners asking them to prepare for a multiple-day meeting next week, which is seen as a good sign. Breer also writes that in order to have a full preseason, it's figured that a deal must be reached by July 15.

According to John Clayton, the current talks are focused on the cut of revenues that will go to the players, who have reportedly proposed a "pegged cap" that would have fixed increases.

More on the positive developments from Vinnie Iyer.

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New labor deal reportedly 80-85 percent complete

Mike Freeman of CBS Sports has more encouraging news on the labor front, as he is reporting that the players and owners have made so much progress in their talks that some involved believe an agreement will be reached in a matter of days. Although Freeman writes that nothing is set in stone, he quotes his source as saying that "It's going to be very difficult for this to get screwed up."

He also writes that the atmosphere of mistrust that had dominated the lockout has all but disappeared, and that in addition to the earlier reported dinner De Smith and Roger Goodell had together, players and owners have been sharing private lunches. Apparently the lawyers for both sides are again involved, but at this juncture it's seen as a positive development indicating that the negotiations are getting down to the details.

MJD and Florio react to Freeman's report.

What went wrong offensively for the Broncos in 2010?

I was recently asked by a couple of readers to discuss what went wrong with the offense of the 2010 Broncos.  It's too long of a story to be adequately told in a reply comment, so I decided to make a full post out of it.

If you asked Captain Obvious this question, he'd give you a really surface-level description, and end it with some nonsense about what most in the NFL think, with it probably revolving around deficiencies he sees in Kyle Orton and Knowshon Moreno, since everything revolves around the QB and the RB.  The real story is way over Jeff's head, of course, but here at IAOFM, we're dedicated to providing the best analysis you can find anywhere, even if that's not that hard to do.

Let's start with some offensive theory.  Is it better to run or to pass?  A lot of research indicates that passing is a more productive activity than running, and all of us at this website tend to believe in that research.

That doesn't mean that running the ball is a waste of time, not in the least.  It may be second priority, but it's still a priority.  Running the ball effectively makes it easier to throw the ball effectively, after all.  It also makes it easier for an offense to stay on schedule.

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