The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

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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The Daily Lard 11-24-11

Happy Thanksgiving, Broncos fans! I'd just like to take a moment to selfishly give some IAOFM-related thanks -  I'm thankful that TJ came up with the idea to pursue this project, that Doc was all for it from Day 1, and that Ted rounded out our writing crew back in January. I'm thankful to be able to legitimately call Ted, Doc and TJ my friends, guys that I can talk to daily about life just as much as football. I'm thankful that my great pal David was willing to usher us four noobs into the world of running a website, especially when he's so busy with a demanding day job, a young family, and a humongous site of his own.

Of course, I'm thankful that all of you choose to spend so much of your valuable time reading our work and sharing your opinions and reactions, even when we don't see eye-to-eye on things. It's your readership that makes this all worthwhile, and we appreciate each and every one of you. So, on behalf of the five of us, I'd like to wish all of you a wonderful holiday - enjoy the great eats and football, and please drive safely.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 11-24-11"

The Daily Lard 11-23-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Just some quick math to clean up Kyle Orton's contract info (not because you care, but because I'm a little OCD about making sure I get this right) - Denver paid him a $1.5M roster bonus at the end of July, and 11/17 of his $7.379M salary works out to $4,774,647.06 - so Denver has paid Kyle $6,274,647.06 and $2,604,352.94 remains. Should Chicago or KC claim him, the Broncos will be off the hook for that latter amount, Kyle gets to play rather than sit behind Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn, and perhaps he gets to go back to the playoffs with the Bears. It's a win/win for everyone, unless of course he comes back to Denver and beats the Broncos with either team. Remember how dramatic it appeared a Cutler/Orton or Cutler/Tebow might be? Well, Tebow/Orton is even better - at least as far as Denver fans are concerned.

Jeff Darlington lays out the list of teams that could put in a claim for Kyle, including perhaps Atlanta to block Chicago from getting him. Andrew Mason and Jeff Legwold detail Orton's release and his rough season, while Lindsay Jones tracks the muddled outcome of the Jay Cutler trade, which essentially netted Denver Robert Ayers and parts of Demaryius Thomas, Tebow and Eric Decker. Meanwhile, Dave Krieger thinks the whole thing seems a little fishy and wonders why Denver didn't cut Orton loose weeks ago. Well for one, what if the team had instead gone 1-4 with Tebow? And, prior to the injuries to Cutler and Matt Cassel, they were probably certain that no team would put in a claim for Kyle, and they'd be left holding the bag on his remaining salary. So as usual, it's all about the Benjamins.

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The Daily Lard 11-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis again makes the case for Denver to draft Baylor's Robert Griffin III, claiming that Griffin can thrive on the same running plays that Tim Tebow does but is also pass better. He also suggests that the key to improving Tebow's accuracy is in sharpening his footwork, rather than his long and slow throwing motion. Klis isn't so sure that Tim tends to throw catchable passes, and that instead his delivery may hide the ball from receivers' eyes, he throws a "heavy" ball, and his passes often rise or dive in the air.

Klis believes Wesley Woodyard's role in the NFL will continue to be as a nickel linebacker who can fill in as an occasional starter but isn't bulky enough to play on first and second down regularly. He also foresees the Broncos trying to re-sign both Brodrick Bunkley and Marcus Thomas, who are currently playing on one-year deals, although no negotiations have begun with either player. At the safety position, Klis thinks it's realistic to imagine both Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter starting next season.

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The Daily Lard 11-21-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The AFC West games went about as expected, as the Raiders defeated the Vikings 27-21 and the Chargers lost to the Bears 31-20. Oakland is now 6-4 and a game up on the 5-5 Broncos, who are now one game ahead of San Diego. Denver remains a half-game ahead of the Chiefs, who face the daunting task of playing at Foxboro tonight with Tyler Palko starting for them at QB. Carson Palmer threw and ran for a score, while Michael Bush racked up 129 total yards and a TD for Oakland. Christian Ponder rallied Minnesota back from a 27-7 hole with two TD passes but was also picked off three times.

Meanwhile, Jay Cutler got a measure of revenge on the Chargers and his old nemesis Phil Rivers, but the satisfaction was shortlived and overshadowed by the fact that Cutler broke his right thumb late in yesterday's game, will have surgery to repair it, and will not be playing when the Bears come to town on December 11. It'll still be a big QB homecoming, just not for the Broncos - they'll instead be facing Cutler's backup, former CSU Ram Caleb Hanie. So, all Tim Tebow will have to do that day is outscore Devin Hester. Piece of cake, right? Matt Bowen breaks down the Bears' victory, plus he considers the Bears' plight without Cutler.

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The Daily Lard 11-20-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday we covered the crucial Chargers/Bears game, so today let's take a quick peek at the game with the most immediate impact on Denver's season: Raiders/Vikings. An Oakland loss would drop them to 5-5 and into a first-place tie ZOMG with the Broncos, and they will be without several key players in RB Darren McFadden, WR Jacoby Ford and CB Chris Johnson, while three others are listed as questionable but expected to play: K Sebastian Janikowski, DT Richard Seymour and S Michael Huff.

As Jerry McDonald stresses, Oakland's first priority will be keeping pass rusher extraordinaire Jared Allen away from Carson Palmer, who will benefit from the absence of starters CB Antoine Winfield and S Husain Abdullah from Minnesota's secondary. The Vikings have struggled to put points on the board all year, but they also also lost to Detroit and Green Bay by just nine combined points, while Adrian Peterson has 11 TDs and nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage; so you never know. Either way, how great/wild/unimaginable is it that we're talking about the Broncos potentially ending the day today in first place in the division?

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The Daily Lard 11-19-11

Good Morning (barely), Broncos fans! If there's one game for Denver fans to narrow in on tomorrow, it's the Chargers at Bears at 415pm ET. Denver heads to San Diego next Sunday (Week 12) and hosts Jay Cutler & Co two weeks after that. So aside from scouting Denver's future opponents, a Bears victory would put San Diego a full game behind the Broncos in the AFC West standings and give Denver the opportunity to go up two games on Phil Rivers and the Bolts with a win next week.

PFF's Rodney Hart is interested to see how the Chargers' offensive tackles fare against pass rusher Julius Peppers, which of course will suggest how they'll contain (or not) Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Looks like a brutal pair of Sundays for Marcus McNeil/Brandyn Dombrowski and Jeromey Clary. Vincent Jackson also draws some tough assignments, as he'll be up against Bears CB Charles Tillman on Sunday and Champ Bailey a week later. Finally, Hart is interested to see how San Diego manages Devin Hester and the Bears' kick return game; as we all recall not so fondly, Hester torched Denver in the teams' last meeting to the tune of two TDs - one on a punt and the other on a kickoff.

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