The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 5-25-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Greg Gabriel's latest post-draft analysis covers the AFC West, and he seems generally impressed with the group of players Denver came away with. Like most, Gabriel sees Von Miller as playing the Sam on 1st and 2nd down, rushing the passer on 3rd down, and being capable in coverage. But contrary to the general consensus, Gabriel thinks Rahim Moore struggled in coverage last season and thinks he may ultimately be best suited to play strong safety, a position he sees Quinton Carter fitting into quite well. In Gabriel's opinion, Orlando Franklin makes sense at right tackle but has the versatility to also play guard, while he's not so sure that Nate Irving can return to his pre-accident form.

Gabriel likes both of Denver's TE choices, praising the upside of both Julius Thomas and Virgil Green, along with the willingness of the former to block, even if he needs to improve at it. He also says the Broncos got great value with Green in the seventh round, and finally Gabriel likes Denver's selection of Mike Mohamed but doesn't see Jeremy Beal sticking with the team.

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The Daily Lard 5-24-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Hall interviewed Dennis Allen recently, and following Krieger's column from last week it's another excellent chance to get to know Denver's new DC. As we've heard constantly from the Broncos' hierarchy in recent months, Allen says he wants his defense to exhibit speed, athleticism, aggression, toughness and violence. According to Allen, what will set his squad apart is the "culture" and attitude of the defense rather than the Xs and Os, and he expects the youthful infusion of draft picks will help the Broncos sustain the success they had shown early in the 2009 season.

The 38-year-old first-time DC says the tilt of the NFL's rules toward the offense mean that defenses don't have a lot of schemes or tricks to fall back upon; rather, they must utilize fear and intimidation to gain an edge. Judging by Allen's words, he'll have to prove a master motivator more than anything else if he's to be a success with Denver - and from this video, we can at least see that Allen is a confident, well-spoken and intelligent guy. Granted, all coordinators should exhibit those very characteristics, but it's certainly a comfort that Allen does, and it's a great foundation on which to build.

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The Daily Lard 5-23-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Neat story this morning from LJ on third-year safety David Bruton, who has been putting his free time and poli sci degree to great use this offseason. The special teams standout has been filling in as a substitute teacher at the public elementary and high schools in his hometown of Miamisburg, Ohio. While Bruton's primary reason for doing this work is to be near his five-year-old son Jaden, the experience has opened up the possibility of going into teaching after his playing days are over. He's apparently also pondering going into family law or social work someday.

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Still here Lard 5-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! There was indeed an earthquake last night in the Bay Area, but it only registered as a 3.6 and caused no major damage. So, we're all still here and what better time to give thanks than the day after the scheduled end of the world? Thanks friends, for being here each and every day and supporting our writing at IAOFM. We appreciate you, especially so after having escaped the end of the world.

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The Daily Lard 5-21-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Hall spoke with Mike McCoy this week about what the OC has been up to in recent months. While the conversation doesn't offer much in the way of depth or detail, it's always nice to hear from someone like McCoy - especially while we're desperate for actual news. McCoy says his top priority this offseason has been getting new OL coach Dave Magazu and new WR coach Tyke Tolbert familiar with the the team's incumbent personnel (McCoy worked with Magazu for six years in Carolina, while Tolbert is a new colleague who was with Carolina in 2010 after stints in Arizona Buffalo).

As for what to expect when the Broncos have the ball in 2011, McCoy states that it will be a blend of all the offenses he and his assistants have been a part of, but that the core of the offense that Josh McDaniels had run for the past two seasons will largely remain intact. Basically, it sounds like the idea is to pass like the Broncos have under McDaniels and McCoy and run like the Panthers had under Magazu and head coach John Fox. As for the QBs, McCoy says he wants to be able to run the offense the same way no matter who's under center, although Broncos TV interestingly didn't show any Brady Quinn clips while McCoy discusses the position.

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Cornerback stats Lard 5-20-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Khaled Elsayed of PFF shares some fascinating data on cornerback play, and there are some interesting findings, if not so much in the way of surprises. The conventional wisdom on cornerbacks measures them by interceptions, which of course is how players like Deltha O'Neal and Tory James make the Pro Bowl. Thankfully that's changing, as folks are learning to focus on how many times corners are targeted and how many receptions they allow in front of them. And while that's a good start, there's a lot more to it - with targets and receptions, we're talking about those dreaded counting stats, and those things don't usually paint the most accurate of pictures.

We prefer rate stats here at IAOFM, as does Elsayed, clearly - if Player A gives up 15 catches in 100 coverage plays (15%) while Player B allows 20 catches in 250 coverage plays (8%), who's better? Proponents of counting stats (or Raiders fans) would see that Player A gave up fewer plays and choose him, while an IAOFM reader would prefer player B, naturally. Of course, we can go deeper and look at rates of plays/targets/catches, which Elsayed does.

Anyway, the result of this data is that Nnamdi Asomugha ranks as tops in a couple of categories, while Champ Bailey isn't too far behind (although probably farther than you might expect). As would follow logically, these two players' CB partners (Stanford Routt and Perrish Cox) saw among the most throws per play as a result. But more interesting to me is that Sean Smith ranks among the elites, while Alphonso Smith is among the worst. You know who's been saying precisely those very things for a long time now? Ted Bartlett, of course. Now, Ted's not as big a fan of stats as I am, but since I happen to think both that Ted knows his stuff and that eventually there would be data to confirm Ted's evaluations, it's quite clear that I AM THE WINNER here (thanks Hondo).

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Paige vs. Orton Lard 5-19-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Woody hints at there being a lot more to his collection of negative stories about Kyle Orton and reminds us that Josh McDaniels came very close to trading him away last summer. Without getting into details, he basically says that Orton is two-faced in presenting himself publicly as a good teammate while behind the scenes being something else entirely. It'll be interesting to see whether Woody comes through with details at some point, or if anyone else does, for that matter. He also (as expected) claims credit for Orton having shown up to last week's group workouts and for John Elway having been hired, and writes that Denver is (of course) not going to sign Nnamdi Asomugha.

I've written here before that I think Woody has it in for Orton. To be clear though, I'm referrring to the way he slips these little nuggets in as asides and his column last week saying Orton should be leading workouts. I see those as Woody's way of turning public opinion against the QB in a manner that strikes as insidious. However, I do not believe that Woody Paige has ever played fast or loose when it comes to presenting facts, and I am not accusing him of doing so here, either. If Woody says that Kyle Orton hasn't been the good soldier everyone assumes he's been, and that he hasn't treated Tim Tebow with much in the way of respect, I believe him. It's understandable that he doesn't just come right out and tell us everything he knows about Orton, as that could place Woodrow's own relationship with the organization in jeopardy, and what then if Orton isn't traded?

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The Daily Lard 5-18-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Andrew Brandt thinks that the Eighth Circuit's decision to permanently stay Judge Nelson's lockout injunction points to the owners also winning their appeal, and expects that decision to be delivered in late June or early July. On the flip side, Brandt points out that the players are still likely to score big victories in the Brady antitrust case as relates to the draft, free agency and the salary cap, should we reach the point of the players actually litigating those issues. However, such actions are quite far away from actually happening, and likely wouldn't reach a courtroom for perhaps a matter of years. So although mediation is not due to pick up for another three weeks from yesterday, Brandt wonders if we've reached a window where a deal could be reached.

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Longer lockout Lard 5-17-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The NFL last night won its first victory in the labor battle with the players, as the Eighth Circuit made permanent their stay of Judge Nelson's lockout injunction, or in plainer English the lockout is back on in a big way. Even more plainly, yesterday means that there is in fact now a real chance that the 2011 season will be delayed, as the lockout will likely continue throughout the appeals process if not longer. Arguments before the Eighth Circuit will begin on June 3, although yesterday's decision makes it appear the owners are likely to win their appeal of Judge Nelson's lockout injunction.

Granted, this decision is not a huge surprise in light of the Eighth Circuit's prior granting of a temporary stay, the lengthy time it took to make that decision permanent, and its expedition of the appeals process. And while this most certainly swings a good deal of leverage back to the owners, whatever penalty Judge Doty imposes in his looming decision regarding the TV lockout insurance money is expected to give "momentum" back to the players. Of course, the owners will surely appeal that decision as well, as is their right...

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The Daily Lard 5-16-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Former CU Buffs fullback Keith Miller is soon to make his debut with the Seattle Opera in their production of The Magic Flute. How did Miller go from being an NFL prospect to an opera singer? Well, it was the Broncos deciding they were not interested in him following a workout that sealed the deal. Miller had previously played in the XFL and Arena League, but after fruitless workouts with both Oakland and Denver, Miller decided in 2002 it was time to pursue his other calling. It was a good move, apparently - Miller has sung in more than 200 performances for the Metropolitan Opera and was featured in the NY Times a couple years back.

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