The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 10-19-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The trade deadline has passed, and Kyle Orton, D.J. Williams and Eddie Royal are still Broncos, while Brandon Lloyd is not. Well, that would make sense - only the most talented of the four was coveted by another team. Remember, this is a team that's gone 7-24 over its last 31 games, so the notion that the players we want to see shipped out (Orton, D.J.) would actually be desired elsewhere is perhaps a bit misguided. It would be a surprise to see any of those three players back next year, though.

Yes, D.J. is signed through 2013, but his contract is one that no team would likely want to inherit, and it would be surprising to learn that Denver was interested in paying the rest of it out. He's making $4.9M this year, $5M next year, and $6M in 2013. But it doesn't appear he's due any guarantees going forward, so color me shocked if D.J. isn't cut sometime between the end of this season and the beginning of the next. Perhaps Denver could get a seventh-rounder at some point if D.J. is willing to renegotiate his contract to go someplace specific, but that too seems like a stretch. Oh well. On to Miami...

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The Daily Lard 10-18-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver made another roster move last night, filling the spot vacated by the Brandon Lloyd trade with safety Rafael Bush (5'11, 197), whom they signed off of Atlanta's practice squad. The Falcons signed Bush as an undrafted free agent last year out of South Carolina State, and he dressed for their season finale after spending the year on the PS. Mike Klis says the signing of Bush is likely a response to the neck injury which kept Brian Dawkins out of practice yesterday and the poor play by Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter in the Broncos' last game versus San Diego.

Klis says the Lloyd trade was largely about money, as the team apparently offered Brandon a two-year deal but with no guaranteed money coming until after this season, and a salary below what Lloyd felt he deserved. Add to that the presence of young wideouts Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas (who was back at practice yesterday) and mix in the fact that Denver just isn't chucking it downfield very much under John Fox's guidance, and you have the makings of a trade which both sides are happy with. And to reiterate, the Broncos would not have received a compensatory pick until the 2013 Draft had they kept Brandon around for the remained of the season.

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The Daily Lard 10-17-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! More information is finally leaking out regarding the Broncos' near trade of Kyle Orton to the Dolphins. Apparently, it was Miami owner Stephen Ross who nixed the deal, because he is set upon having a clear franchise QB in place for the 2012 season, and well, you know... Ross also intends to hire someone with the stature of Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher to either run his team or coach it. In case you care about these things for some odd reason, Cowher was TJ's first coaching choice for the Broncos post-Shanahan, while I was hoping for Fisher earlier this year.

Further, Chris Mortensen says the deal was so close to fruition that Kyle's transportation to the Sunshine State had been arranged. In other words, the Broncos were more than prepared to ship Orton off, as we've figured since about nine months ago. But you know, continue to blame John Fox or John Elway for Orton not being moved. We don't need no stinking facts when we have our sights set on someone, right?

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The Daily Lard 10-16-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I had a rather disappointing Twitter exchange last night with former Denver GM Ted Sundquist, who had written on his own site earlier in the day that Brandon Lloyd "has a history of less than “exemplary” behavior in Dove Valley" and in response to a reader's comment went on to call Lloyd "disgruntled" and speculate that Denver would even consider deactivating the WR or releasing him outright. In yesterday's Lard, I had written that Sundquist was "sadly perpetuating the myths about Lloyd being a bad guy". Later in the day, Sundquist tweeted:

@craigary @IAOFM Nice blog, but I wouldn't "perpetuate the myth" if I didn't know what I was saying. Would never do that to a player.

This is fair. Ted spent 16 years in the Denver organization, and he presumably still has plenty of knowledgeable contacts there. So, perhaps there's some truth to what Ted wrote yesterday. I'm certainly in no position to dispute that, and I won't. But, Ted's writing now, and on his own site - and he's the first person to paint Lloyd as a malcontent in Denver. Yes, Brandon arrived with a less-than-stellar reputation; but again, we've had over two years to judge the guy for ourselves. There was no hint of Lloyd being disgruntled or having demanded a trade when Mike Klis broke the news the other day that Brandon was being offered around.

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Appreciating Mr. B. Lloyd Lard 10-15-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! No real news on the Broncos front, or developments in the Brandon Lloyd situation, but I thought I'd share some thoughts on Lloyd. Brandon has been a truly remarkable player for Denver, and it's been a shame to see folks dragging his name around like he's a malcontent or more of a "me guy" than any other NFL player. Sure, he never really did much of anything pre-Denver and never lived up to his billing, and perhaps he was something of an unhappy camper while playing for three different teams in six years. But really, who cares about that stuff? This is Brandon's third season in Denver, so don't we have enough to go on from seeing him on the field and hearing/reading what he has to say every week to form a true opinion of the guy?

For one, the guy spent 14 weeks on the inactive list in 2009 while making the minimum $620K (plus a $50K signing bonus) and we never heard a peep. He then goes out in 2010 and produces one of the best, if not the best, season(s) of any WR in the league and receives a $755K salary, which was the minimum for his experience level (he later received a $500K incentive for making the Pro Bowl). This year, he is playing for a $1.395M salary in the final year of the two-year contract he signed with Denver after having dressed twice in 2009. Yet, we have never heard any inkling of a complaint from either Lloyd or his agent about playing time, his salary or his contract in the 2.3 seasons he's been a Bronco, during which he's made about $2.36M so far and would make about $3M total through the end of this season.

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The Daily Lard 10-14-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Don Banks wrote a lengthy article about Tim Tebow's prospects for the next 11 games, getting analysis from skeptics Brian Billick and Trent Dilfer and the more optimistic Jabar Gaffney, who of course played with Tebow last season and worked out with him over the offseason. Dilfer believes Tebow will have some success early on, but that adjusting to his skills will only be a matter of time for opposing defenses. He also thinks that Tebow's struggles with "rhythm, timing and location" will ultimately be his undoing, and that although Tim has the talent, he's just not consistent enough to be successful at this level. Dilfer goes on to say that Tebow would have had a better chance in the deep-drop NFL of the 1980s, but today's precision passing game based upon timing and shorter drops does not suit him well.

Billick, meanwhile, thinks that Tebow's ability to extend plays is going to end up getting him injured, and he finds it nonsensical that folks are comparing Tim to Cam Newton, whom Billick says is a much better thrower than is Tebow.

Finally, Gaffney says Tebow was exhibiting more poise and a quicker release during the offseason, and that Tim "can make every throw out there." Gaff also points out that the young QB's mobility gives his receivers confidence in that he can keep plays going long enough to find them open. Obviously, we have to hope that Jabar is correct and not just sticking up for his former mate and fellow Gator...

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The Daily Lard 10-13-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest Walkthrough, Mike Tanier reimagines the Denver QB change and the Peyton Hillis saga in Cleveland, among other dramas. Plus, he diagrams the final play from Sunday's game and says it was all about Knowshon Moreno's excellent pass blocking. But of greater interest to us, Tanier offers his take on the whole Orton/Tebow thing - he believes John Fox should have started Tebow from Week 1 of the preseason, and that he instead went with Orton out of stubbornness and needed Orton to be a resounding success to get away with it.

Meanwhile, Tanier is sticking with his evaluation that Tebow will not make for a good pro quarterback, and he writes that none of Tim's passes Sunday were on time, and that all followed some confused backpedaling. But he does point out that designed runs were quite effective with Tebow and leaves open the possibility that the young QB's "running and his intangibles make him a viable quarterback." Tanier also stresses that Mike McCoy must tailor the Denver offense to highlight Tebow's strengths rather than try to foist the offense as operated by Orton upon Tim. Ultimately, Tanier just wants to be able to write about either the Broncos' future with Tebow or which QB they'll be taking come April - and a long look at Tim starting next week is the only way to get there. Sounds good to me.

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The Daily Lard 10-12-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In reviewing film of Broncos/Chargers, Andy Benoit says no Denver defenders stood out consistently, and that the mistakes of Von Miller and the young secondary were glaring. On offense, Benoit writes that the wide receivers were more to blame than was Kyle Orton for their first-half woes, although he does say the change at halftime to Tim Tebow was the correct decision. Plus, he was very impressed by the offensive line's play in the running game, especially that of J.D. Walton.

Khaled Elsayed disagrees with Benoit regarding the lack of impactful play on defense, as Elvis Dumervil had a whopping nine pressures on 36 pass rushes for his first real impact on the season, but he agrees that Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter sure did look like rookies out there. As for Orton/Tebow, Elsayed writes that the former was "beyond terrible" and the presence of the former presence "seemed to galvanize" the Broncos.

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The Daily Lard 10-11-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! So, it sounds like John Fox will name Tim Tebow the starting quarterback today, because what else can he do? The cat's out of the bag, and Kyle Orton has been terrible. As Andy Benoit sees it, Fox is in a very difficult position, and he writes:

In truth, Fox and his staff know that a gameplan full of quarterback draws and screen passes can work in improvisational fashion, but not against a defense that will have seen it on film and prepared accordingly. This logic won’t register with a lot of Bronco fans. All they know is that Tebow came in and showed grit, had that “It” factor and gave the offense a spark.

He's right. The very same Tebow that played on Sunday is not going to win many NFL games, folks (if any). Sure, we can confirm our biases by citing the QB Rating of someone who threw nine passes (plus one spike) in two quarters of work, or point to the energy of the team and the crowd, but honestly this is what happens anytime a backup QB takes over for someone as unpopular as Orton has become in Denver. Everyone goes nuts, and the result doesn't even matter - because the guy "gave us a chance." Let's just go over what throws Tebow actually made on Sunday...

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The Daily Lard 10-10-11

Good Morning, and welcome to Confirmation Bias Week, Broncos fans! I know, I know. We finally had something to get excited about and I'm Mr. Wet Towel. But step back from the hyperbole machine - yesterday did not prove that Tim Tebow is going to be a great NFL QB, nor that he's a flat out winner - and that doesn't even consider the fact that Denver actually lost the game, 29-24 (box score). For those hoping to see Tebow fail, the botched snaps from under center and the bounced throws at receivers' feet are likewise not proof that Tebow will not be an NFL success.

It's practically a foregone conclusion that Tebow will be named the starter for the balance of the season, as well he should be. Kyle Orton has clearly played his way out of the starting job, with more turnovers (nine) than touchdowns this year (eight) and a 6.3 YPA which ties him with rookie Blaine Gabbert for 28th in the league. And to be honest, it's better this way - because however Tebow does going forward, there will be no pressure to put Orton back in, and it's such an obvious choice that the locker room will likely support the move fully.

There were some encouraging signs of progress from Tebow yesterday, including a bit more patience in reading his progressions rather than tucking and running at the first sign of trouble or with his first read covered. Let's see if that continues to improve, if his pocket presence becomes a bit less frenetic (he looked nervous yesterday), and if those snap and accuracy problems are softened over the rest of the season and with first-team snaps. We've got eleven games left in the season - let's see what he's got.

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