The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 2-13-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Andrew Mason summarized the issues facing Broncos this offseason for the Sporting News, first pointing out the team had the second-worst point differential of any playoff team in NFL history. Mason says Denver is fond of Nate Irving's potential, and he wouldn't be surprised to see Irving end up the starting Mike in 2012. Obviously, Mason is in possession of some inaccurate information and/or hasn't checked in with überscout and Denver pulse-reader Woody Paige, who says Irving "didn't wow anybody."

According to Mason, both starting DTs Marcus Thomas and Brodrick Bunkley would like to return via free agency, although of course the team will be looking to improve its inside pass rush - the duo combined for a minus-16.8 pass rush grade which tempered their stellar plus-39.0 score against the run (31.2 of which was credited to Bunkley).

If Brian Dawkins should retire, Mason suggests ex-Panthers S Chris Harris as a possible replacement as a veteran presence to aid the progress of Quinton Carter and Rahim Moore. However, this would not be advisable since it would be really f#$%ing confusing to have two Chris Harrises. NFL.com is already unable to handle the problem, as the Bronco's profile is adorned with a photo of the recent Lion.

As for Tim Tebow, Mason thinks the team will likely telegraph their intentions by virtue of what veteran QB they sign to either back up or compete with Tim.

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The Daily Lard 2-12-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! RIP, Whitney Houston.

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The Daily Lard 2-11-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! A pair of academic economists thinks the end of football is a much stronger likelihood than most of us are willing to consider, especially as we learn more about the wide-ranging and long-lasting effects of head injuries. Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier believe either liability suits or potentially conclusive medical research linking CTE to football will bring down our beloved sport, as parents seek to protect their children and those involved in the sport at the coaching and administrative levels depart due to litigation fears.

An earlier Grantland piece by Jonah Lehrer (sorry to say we missed this one the first time around) addresses the difficulties facing high school coaches and medical staffs as they attempt to prevent, diagnose, and treat concussions. Sadly, even the most generously funded and purely intentioned of programs appear to be losing that battle, which cannot speak well for those with smaller budgets and less institutional dedication to attacking a problem which may have no solution.

If that's the case, Cowen and Grier suggest that basketball will become America's sport if or when football loses its stranglehold. So, how about this Jeremy Lin?

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The Daily Lard 2-10-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! My, how quickly things have changed in Oakland. It was only last February that the Raiders gave CB Stanford Routt a puzzling $20M in guarantees to stick around, later restructuring his deal to make it a five-year contract worth a potential $54.5M (but with no extra guarantees beyond the $20M). These were the kind of kooky decisions Al Davis made - with both of his starting corners hitting free agency, Big Al gave Routt only $5M less in guarantees than all-world CB Nnamdi Asomugha ended up getting from the Eagles.

Since then, Davis has moved on to another world, Huebris Jackson is no longer the coach, and Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen are now running the show. Yesterday, the duo established in full that the Raiders are their team, and they put the entire roster on notice by cutting Routt, who had allowed nine touchdowns and dubiously led the league with 17 penalties called against him in 2011.

Routt's agent has reportedly already garnered interest from Buffalo and Tennessee, but no matter where the 2005 second-rounder lands, the message is clear: McKenzie and Allen will not hesitate to differentiate themselves from Davis's ways - which can only be a bad thing for the Broncos and the rest of the AFC West.

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The Daily Lard 2-9-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's time again for Woody's Mailbag! Let's see what he's got for us on this fine morn:

There are so many people who think they can "fix" Tebow...Bratkowski and Martinez both think Tebow will be a great passing quarterback...Sean Salisbury, the former NFL quarterback who worked for ESPN for years, said (not to me, but to various others) during the Super Bowl week that he could "fix" Tim Tebow in two weeks and turn him into a "60 percent completion" quarterback.

Yes, clearly everyone who says they can fix Tim's problems are saying so out of purely charitable honesty. There's no ego or self-interest involved. Tell me Woody - is someone really going to say No, I can't fix Tim? Of course not - it's not like Tim is an uncoordinated, unathletic spaz. OF COURSE HE CAN BE FIXED. Tim could also become a concert pianist or an NBA point guard if he put in enough time.

BTW Woodrow, why in the wide world of sports would Timmy want to work with Sean Salisbury? Because he was such a great QB himself? Because he's successfully coached so many other QBs?

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The Daily Lard 2-8-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Only a week after saying he'd be back with the Ravens in 2012, Ricky Williams announced his (second) retirement from the NFL yesterday; he attributed the decision to his own self-reflection after having received a text message from Bill Parcells which read, "Don't chase this thing too long. You can contribute in other ways."

The first time Williams retired was just days before the start of Dolphins training camp in 2004, when it was rumored he had had a third positive drug test and would be ineligible for the season anyway. After coming out of retirement in 2005 and playing that season for the Dolphins, Williams had another positive drug test and was suspended for the 2006 season, which he instead spent in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts. Williams returned to the Dolphins the next year but suffered a season-ending injury during his first game back.

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The Daily Lard 2-7-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis thinks veteran QBs won't shy away from Tebowmania because they all probably think/know they can beat Tim in a fair QB competition, and he puzzlingly posits that, "The only way the Broncos reach the Super Bowl within the next three years is if Tebow leads them." Three years, really?

According to Klis, Jack Del Rio has a two-year contract (not sure we knew that prior), and he suggests that even if Del Rio leaves after a year for another HC gig, perhaps a revolving door at DC won't be as big a deal under John Fox as it was with Shanny and McDaniels. I'll buy that.

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The Daily Lard 2-6-12

Welcome to the offseason, Broncos fans! For the second time in five seasons, the Giants took down the favored Patriots in the Super Bowl - this time 21-17 for their fourth SB title, all of which have come in the past 26 seasons. Eli Manning again earned SB MVP honors with a late fourth-quarter drive; it started with an exceptional throw and catch to Mario Manningham and ended with the Patriots intentionally allowing (ala the Packers in SB 32) Ahmad Bradshaw to score a TD he tried not to score. But momentum carried Bradshaw into the end zone, leaving Tom Brady and the Pats 57 seconds left to score a TD, and the game ended with a Hail Mary pass that ended up being a bit closer than anyone likely expected it to be.

The Manningham catch would easily be the longest play of the game, and arguably the most important one. From New England's perspective, the game turned just 20 seconds prior on a dropped pass by Wes Welker just outside the Giants 20-yard line. As Brian Burke details, there were few big plays and the game overall was rather unexciting for one with such a close result. This marks the NFC's third straight SB win, and the Giants are the first 9-7 team to take the title; the 2010 Packers, 1988 Niners, and 2007 Giants are the only 10-6 champs. 19 regular season wins in two SB-winning seasons - seven fewer than the '97-'98 Broncos tallied.

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The Daily Lard 2-5-12

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, Broncos fans! The NFL hosted their first ever awards show last night - Aaron Rodgers was named league MVP, Drew Brees took Offensive POY, Terrell Suggs the Defensive POY, Jim Harbaugh the Coach of the Year, and Matthew Stafford was named Comeback POY. Of course, Von Miller took DROY and Cam Newton was his offensive counterpart.

Meanwhile, six players were named to the Pro Football HOF yesterday: Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Curtis Martin and two AFC West stars - Cortez Kennedy and Willie Roaf. Did any of these players perform on a level different than that of Terrell Davis and Steve Atwater? I think not.

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The Daily Lard 2-4-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Two more groups of ex-players have filed suit against the NFL regarding its handling of head injuries, including HOFer Leroy Kelly, former Broncos first-round pick Ashley Lelie and perhaps most interestingly, NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger. At some point, Baldinger is going to speak up about his experiences, and the NFL and their network are going to have a delicate situation on their hands.

In related news, the Sports Legacy Institute, which is led by Chris Nowinksi and collaborates with Boston University in studying the effects of CTE, is suggesting that the number of blows to the head suffered by youth football players be tracked. Says Nowinski:

We have to find a solution for the children, who are most at risk, and the guidelines will help us get there...We have to recognize the (physiological) differences. They're not little men, they're children.

We'll have to have the guts to put down a number on paper and say, 'This is a rational goal. This is what kids should be under.'

We're not anti-football. But we are pro-child.

Thurday's AP article which focused on players' injuries recalled for Times Op-Ed writer Joe Nocera an article written 36 years ago by Clark Booth - as Nocera tells it, that piece was the first to honestly address the long-term health consequences facing players. Former Cowboys TE Jean Fugett talks of crying when his own son accepted a football scholarship, and he suggests that tackle football not be played before high school.

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