The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 12-4-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As distant and microscopic a possibility playoff contention had appeared just a few weeks back, Denver has a chance to move into a tie for first place in the AFC West today with a victory in Minnesota combined with an Oakland loss at Miami. Key to the Broncos' chances will be the status of Von Miller, who had surgery on Tuesday to repair torn thumb ligaments and will be a game-time decision. But even if he does play, he'll be wearing a cast on his right hand and will likely cede a good deal of playing time to Mario Haggan.

For those of you clamoring for Tebow's pass/run data combined, stay tuned...

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The Daily Lard 12-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I know some of you are probably exhausted by the Tebow/stats talk, but in the comments of yesterday's Lard, reader DavidinLA shared a link to a Mark Kriegel column about those very topics, and I think it's worthy of some discussion. If nothing else, I'd like to share my opinion of stats and writing about them in general.

My first reaction to Kriegel's column is that a red flag goes up for me anytime a sports columnist who rarely or never mention stats in their typical writing decides to suddenly cite them because they happen to support his/her viewpoint. In this case, Kriegel sought out some stats to prove his point, which is the worst mindset from which to turn to stats - when you set out to prove something via stats, you are going to have blinders on, and you're going to get someone to feed you some line of crap, because damnit you've got a deadline to meet and a premise to bolster.

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The Daily Lard 12-2-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! You may recall that the other day I applauded the "spirit of what (Kerry) Byrne and CHFF are trying to do" with their "Real QB Rating" before going on to criticize Byrne's interpretation of the numbers CHFF's new metric had spit out. Well, I guess I should have looked deeper into this Real QB Rating, because as Mike Tanier explains in great detail, it has extreme flaws. Relax, Tebowmaniacs - none of this is a criticism of Tim, but rather of CHFF's methods as they relate to Real QB Rating.

So, here's the problem with it: Real QB Rating relies upon the old-school QB Rating as a framework, and it overcredits completion percentage in a big way - and as my friend Ted Bartlett has written many times already, completion percentage is completely overrated (although I wouldn't go as far as to say it's worthless). As Tanier shows, a slight improvement in completion % without adding even a yard of production has a significant positive impact on a QB rating, and that's just not going to help us evaluate a quarterback.

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The Daily Lard 12-1-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I've just sat here for the past 40 minutes trying to respond to complaints about my tone of late, but I've actually run out of time. So, I'm going to get myself to work and finish up my thoughts later when I get a chance. Worst Lard intro ever, I know. More of the self-referencing garbage that I so intently try to avoid - that makes 10 uses of I/me/my/myself, or 10 more than this writer would like to use each day. Sorry, folks - enjoy the links and have a great day!

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The Daily Lard 11-30-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his YGS column yesterday, Ted addressed my own mentally masturbative claim from our CTF in which I suggested the Broncos would be "a legit team" with a league-average QB. I was not discounting Tebow's contributions to Denver's winning streak when I wrote that - we can't arbitrarily subtract his play from the past six weeks and say the Broncos would still be 5-1. It would be foolish and pointless to do so, actually - Tebow played a part in all five wins in varying degrees (IMO none more so than in San Diego). They didn't win in spite of Tim or his play. Obviously, Tim has a lot to do with how and why the Broncos have been so effective running the ball, and I have no problem accepting that they'd be far less devastating there (if even very good at all) with another QB.

My opinion was (and still is) that another QB (not necessarily Orton), given the quality of defense and special teams Tebow's been afforded these past six games, would do quite well, and that success would be sustainable (which is what I meant or should have written when I wrote legit). I don't think it's a far reach to say there are plenty of NFL QBs who would be scoring significantly more than the 16 points per game the Tebow-led offense has been accumulating. However you slice it, the abundance of one- and two-minute offensive possessions Denver's gotten in the past six weeks are pure defense killers.

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The Daily Lard 11-29-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis goes all Woody Paige in responding to a reasonable and intelligent question about the Broncos' struggles to score points and extend drives beyond three plays with Tebow at the helm. He does so by cherry-picking some numbers which make the Tebow-led offense appear more productive than it's been; according to Klis' calculations, the Broncos have scored 21.2 points in their five wins under Tebow, as if points per win ever mattered. For one, this removes the 10-point effort against the Lions, which when included brings the figure down to 19.3 points. Secondly, two of the touchdowns scored during this time were provided by Eddie Royal's punt return in Oakland and Andre' Goodman's INT return against the Jets. Without those, the offense is down to 17 points per game, and then there's the issue of two games having gone to overtime, without which the Denver offense is scoring 16 points per game since Tebow took over.

Do all those other scores count? Of course! Should the Broncos give them back because Tebow wasn't responsible for them? Nope. But really, let's not say the offense is scoring 21+ points a game, okay? I can just see the water cooler conversations now. Fan A: The wins are nice, but we need to score more points to beat the good teams. Fan B: You're an idiot! They're scoring 21.2 points with Tebow! Mike Klis said so, must be true ZOMG!!

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The Daily Lard 11-28-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! If yesterday felt like Groundhog Day, that's because it basically was. The Broncos have found a winning formula, one with several parts stellar defense (22 tackles from Von Miller and D.J. Williams, three sacks from Von and Elvis Dumervil, 36 points allowed in three weeks), a few parts punishing running attack (208 yards including 117 from Willis McGahee), one part excellent special teams (a huge 31-yard PR by Eddie Royal which led to their first score), and a dash or two of luck (two missed FGs by Nick Novak, two Denver fumbles but none lost) and opponent blunders (Norv Turner's Andy Reid-style handling of the clock before halftime) thrown in for good measure.

Denver and San Diego needed OT to reach a combined 300 net passing yards, and the Broncos did Herman Cain proud with their continued offensive futility: nine pass completions, nine punts, nine penalties. But no matter, because a win is still a win, and this 16-13 victory moves the Broncos over .500 for the first time since being 8-4 in 2009 and losing four straight. It should be mentioned that Tim Tebow made some key throws late in the game, and seven of his nine completions went for first downs. Denver has now won five of six and four straight, including three road division victories in a four-week span - a remarkable feat in any season and no matter the circumstances.

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The Daily Lard 11-27-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Nate Winkler previews Broncos/Chargers for CHFF, and he points to the ludicrous fact that Tim Tebow has averaged more yards per rush than per pass. Now, granted - part of that is because Tim is sporting a remarkable 6.9-yard average on his carries, but the flip side is that Blaine Gabbert is the only other QB to have thrown 100 passes this season with a lower YPA. But as Winkler stresses, Tebow has also done a great job of not turning the ball over, and his only two giveaways since taking over as the fulltime starter came during the blowout loss to Detroit.

Winkler believes the game will come down to third-down conversions, and there may be no better medicine for Denver's woes there than the San Diego defense. He also says it's a prime opportunity for Tebow to show he can chuck it better, as both the Chargers and next week's opponent (Minnesota) have allowed opponents to post very high QB ratings (unfortunately, so have the Broncos - 96.4 ZOMG!).

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The Daily Lard 11-26-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Benson previews Broncos/Chargers for PFF, and he says a loss will be close to a death knell to either team's playoff chances, especially so in San Diego's case. Benson theorizes that Denver isn't necessarily setting out to run the ball so many times, but they're just going with the flow rather than sticking with a pass-heavy game plan when it's not working. He also points out that both teams have been successful in defending the run, while on offense both squads are featuring running back corps that resemble MASH Units. Finally, Benson ponders the age-old question for Denver whenever they face San Diego (Who will cover Antonio Gates?) and wonders if the answer could be Von Miller.

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The Daily Lard 11-25-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! John Elway told Dave Krieger that he's stopped reading his Twitter account, and who can blame him? Krieger writes, 

Trying to have a rational public conversation about Tebow is mostly futile these days. The subject has passed into a realm normally occupied by politics and religion, where people already know what they think and once the usual talking points are exhausted, the argument often devolves into personal insults. Because Elway shares the doubts of many league insiders about long-term success without a robust passing game, and because he's forthright enough to say so, he is now routinely accused of being jealous of Tebow's popularity and wanting him to fail...Maybe the Twitter loudmouths are just the lunatic fringe. But it would be understandable if Elway has reviewed his most recent career choice lately and wondered to himself, "What the heck was I thinking?"

I couldn't agree more. However, if in fact Tim does not have the ability to be a franchise QB anytime soon (and you know what I think of that), then there's nobody aside from Elway who has the political capital to move on from the Tebow experiment. Well, except among the Twittersphere, of course...

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