The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 9-13-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Well, it's (still) morning at least. While Denver's 23-20 loss (box score) to the Raiders was not quite of the same magnitude of their previous three defeats to Oakland, in some ways it was worse. The narrative we've been told for the past eight months is that John Fox would bring offensive balance and discipline to Denver, but his debut showed none of either; it was instead hallmarked by penalties in bunches (ten of them, and those are just the ones Oakland accepted), turnovers (three), a blocked punt, several wasted timeouts, and a complete dud on offense - the team mustered only 13 offensive points as Eric Decker's lipstick-on-a-pig punt-return TD was the only thing that saved Denver from getting blown out. The Broncos' reputed new commitment to the run resulted in 13 carries for just 38 yards with a long of 13 by none other than Kyle Orton.

Speaking of Orton, if last night didn't epitomize his career in Denver, then what does? Fantasy owners will be happy with his 304 yards, but that empty number required a whopping 46 attempts to achieve and was accompanied by just one TD but two costly turnovers - a ghastly INT and a phantom fumble that called Jay Cutler and Ed Hochuli to mind on what could have been a TD pass to a wide open Daniel Fells. To make matters worse, Orton shuffled his feet into five sacks and could have been picked off on several more occasions. Three visits to the red zone and just the one touchdown, when Oakland was working with a 10-point lead and playing off coverage. In short, it looks like we'll be seeing Tim Tebow a bit sooner than Woody had predicted, or perhaps the Broncos really will be in the running to select Andrew Luck next April.

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Pregame Lard 9-12-11

The team is asking all fans attending tonight's game to wear orange like the team is doing, and to be in their seats by 30 minutes prior to kickoff for a special ceremony commemorating the anniversary of 9/11. They've even been using a recording of Brandon Lloyd in phone calls to season-ticket holders to get the message out.

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The Daily Lard 9-12-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Here we go - it's been a tumultuous 12 months for our team, what with the firing of Josh McDaniels, John Elway taking over the organization, the hiring of John Fox, the lockout, yet another scandal (the arrest of Perrish Cox and the prospect of Broncos players having to testify against their ex-teammate) and something about a pair of quarterbacks whose names I'm struggling with at the moment. It felt like the longest offseason in history, but finally we get to see the 2011 Broncos for really real tonight, and against our most hated rivals, nonetheless.

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The Daily Lard 9-11-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans - here we are, the first Sunday of regular-season football in 2011! Enjoy the games - of course we'll have an open thread for you to discuss the action, and TJ has a stellar analysis of the Raiders as the Broncos prepare to face them tomorrow.

As we commemorate the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, our thoughts here at IAOFM go out to all who suffered a loss on that day, and to all who have served.

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The Daily Lard 9-10-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Nothing earth-shattering in Broncos Land today, so I'd like to take this opportunity to mark a pair of noteworthy occasions here at IAOFM. Plus, tomorrow should be all about the first Sunday of real NFL football rather than self-referencing snobbery. Anyway, tomorrow marks the first anniversary of IAOFM's existence, and it's been quite a year. Doc, TJ, Ted, David (who runs the technical side) and I have had an incredible time working with each other, we've made a bunch of new friends, and we're excited about what the future holds for our little endeavor. We set out a year ago to offer high level analysis of the Broncos, to make you think and laugh, and we believe IAOFM has been consistently evolving into a better product. We hope you feel the same way.

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The Daily Lard 9-9-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! How was that for a season opener? If you thought you had something better to do than watch Saints/Packers last night, it really wasn't. Green Bay outlasted New Orleans 42-34 (box score) in an all-out slugfest which featured 51 first downs, 17-of-26 third-down conversions, 876 yards of offense, 84 pass attempts for 731 yards and six touchdowns, two special teams touchdowns, and a goal-line stop by the Packers to conclude the game on an untimed down from the one-yard line.

As for what last night meant to us as Broncos fans: Be patient this season. No matter how far they exceed any of our expectations (if they do), it will take multiple years for Denver to be able to consistently compete with teams the caliber of today's Packers and Saints. We saw third and fourth receivers making huge plays, electric kick returners, two of the best QBs we'll ever see, and we can only hope at this point that Julius Thomas will someday be as effective as either Jermichael Finley or Jimmy Graham in the passing game. And of course, we won't be seeing that brand of football anyway, as the John Fox-led Panthers scored 34 points or more just 13 times in nine seasons (including playoffs). For comparison's sake, the Packers have scored 34 or more points 13 times in their last 48 games, while we only have to go back 37 games to find 13 such outputs by the Saints. On the bright side - and this is no small matter - Darren Sproles is no longer on our schedule twice a year - once every four years is bad enough, so let's all hope he finishes his career in the NFC.

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The Daily Lard 9-8-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team will hold its first full practice regular-season practice and issue their first injury report today. As Lindsay Jones reiterates, the Broncos are hoping to get DTs Brodrick Bunkley and Marcus Thomas back in time for Monday's opener.

So, today is the day the DP unleashed their preview of the Broncos' season, and the focus is John Elway. Where Woody Paige typically shares an interview with team owner Pat Bowlen, Mike Klis instead presents one with Elway as the clear face of the Broncos organization. Within it, Elway speaks of lifting the pall that's enveloped the franchise in recent years as the tragedy of Darrent Williams and Kenny McKinley's untimely deaths, and the ugliness of the Jay Cutler drama have come to dominate the Denver headlines.

Elway strangely theorizes that it's a good defense that creates home-field advantage (tell that to Colts and Saints fans) and defends himself against the ridiculous notion that great players can't become great team execs, just because a few of them have failed to do so in the past. As for that garbage, Elway scored a 29 on the Wonderlic and Dan Marino scored a 16. Marino's flop running the Dolphins predicts nothing for Elway's stewardship.

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The Daily Lard 9-7-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! On Broncos TV, Brian Xanders tells Chris Hall the team had settled on two or three players to make waiver claims on, but in the end decided the players already on the roster were preferable - or at least until they decided they weren't, and signed Tony Hills yesterday. Xanders also reminds us that waivers are a daily process and that the FO and coaches are constantly evaluating the roster - remember how Shanny used to try out several players almost every week during the season? Or the Curse of Brett Kern? And as Legwold points out, not only are the contracts of vested veterans not guaranteed if they're signed after Week 1, they are only paid on a week-to-week basis after that.

So in keeping with Ted's point yesterday to keep calm, realize that the roster as presently constructed is unlikely to remain unchanged for even three or four weeks. Plus, throughout the preseason we've generally been seeing the second and third units operating as a whole, rather than backups mixing in with starters. Yes, it's still about winning individual battles, but when the guys next to you are losing theirs...

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The Daily Lard 9-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Some terrific news among Mike Klis' practice notes from yesterday - defensive tackles Brodrick Bunkley and Marcus Thomas may both return to practice sometime this week, which of course would be an enormous development as the Raiders bring their dominant rushing attack to town Monday night. Plus, Demaryius Thomas practiced yesterday as expected, although there is no publicized timetable as to when he'll return to action - apparently at this point it's strictly a matter of Demaryius getting back into football shape. Granted, that could take awhile.

Meanwhile, Chris Kuper was back at practice yesterday after missing last week with a toe injury. The team is off today and will practice tomorrow.

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The Daily Lard 9-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Legwold says the FO just didn't see any players on the waiver wire who could contribute quickly to the team, hence their lack of claims. He also repeats what Klis wrote yesterday about the team not wanting to absorb any pre-existing contracts, but truly that one is hard to believe. As I wrote last night, most young players make the minimum salary for their respective experience levels, so anyone picked up on waivers would in essence be on one-year contracts as the claiming team would be able to cut them at any point with no bonus accelerations or cap hits.

Meanwhile, Demaryius Thomas has been working only with the medical and strength/conditioning staffs as he comes back from his Achilles injury. Brian Xanders says Thomas will be working with the scout team today as the team prepares for next Monday's opener against the Raiders.

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