The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 10-28-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! What a remarkable week for Tim Tebow, huh? First, he onside kick diving catches nickel personnel against obvious draw singlehandedly brings the Broncos back from down 15 points with three five minutes left in the game against a terrible real NFL team to snatch victory from the jaws of the winless Dolphins defeat. Then, we learn that Tebow really is closer with his offensive teammates than is Kyle Orton, hence the incredible effort they all put forth on his behalf for five minutes all game long.

Next, we find that a pair of Tebow's pants are available on eBay for the low, low price of $5,000 $4,999.99 (Free shipping!!!). Then, a vomit-inducing an awesome music video dedicated to His his greatness, AND we find out that he's got a DVD coming out (I already pre-ordered 35 copies of it to distribute to my family at Thanksgiving)! (Amazing he found time to film a DVD, hawk undies, and do a book tour in between all those countless hours practicing his snaps from under center and perfecting his throwing motion.)

But yesterday Tebowmania reached another new pinnacle, with his very own Taiwanese animation and a new meme he inspired on Sunday called Tebowing going viral. Heck, even Von Miller got swept up in the craze. And to think, it all started at the bar I used to watch Broncos games at until I got DirecTV just so I could Chew the Fat with the guys. Not to be a jerk about it, but how can anyone complain about East Coast media bias when Tim Tebow's very first meme starts in the heart of New York City? Hahaha.

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The Daily Lard 10-27-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In Andy Benoit's preview of Sunday's game, he says we shouldn't expect to see much change in Tim Tebow's throwing motion going forward, that we can at least hope his footwork will improve, and he calls Tebow's arm strength "middling" by NFL standards. Benoit's answer to the question of why the Broncos don't unleash Tebow's game earlier is that doing so would create more mistakes and bigger deficits. And, nothing Benoit saw Sunday served to convince him that the Broncos have a true deep threat who can stretch a defense among their wide receivers. He writes that this is why the Broncos are so conservative on offense, although of course this is Foxball! Denver wasn't exactly chucking it downfield with Brandon Lloyd and Kyle Orton, either...

Benoit says the Lions' run defense is much better than their ranking would suggest, and that a few missed tackles have led to big runs and those poor numbers. But he thinks the Broncos need to try to attack Detroit up the middle in the run game, and pretty much abandon the idea of running outside. As for the Lions' offense, Benoit says the absence of Jahvid Best has really hurt their passing game and tightened things up for Calvin Johnson, who is seeing more double coverage as a result. This, combined with the presence of Champ Bailey and the pass rush ability of Von Miller tells Benoit the Broncos should be able to hang with the Lions' passing attack.

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The Daily Lard 10-26-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! So, Nate Jackson thinks the fact that Tebow doesn't fit everyone's conventional mold of a QB is good for football. Should Tebow become a sustained NFL success, that will absolutely be true. It's always neat to see the prevailing wisdom of the day turned on its head, no matter the forum, and a winning Tim Tebow would be great for the sport, not just for the Broncos. Yet, just like it's irresponsible to declare Tebow will never be an NFL QB, it's a bit early to be pronouncing him a football hero, wouldn't you say? Or, is perspective only welcome when the Broncos lose?

You know what else is funny about Jackson's column? The notion that passing the football and stopping the pass is the surest pathway to winning has only recently overtaken the outdated mindset of running and stopping the run. Sure, there have been plenty of championships won over the past several decades by teams that leaned primarily on their passing games, but the notion that this NFL is a "passing league" is still relatively new. And guys like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have reset the bar for precision quarterbacking over the past decade or so. But, Jackson finds this all too bland for his blood.

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The Daily Lard 10-25-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Excellent piece from Brian Burke yesterday relating to who else but Tim Tebow, and it recalls a conversation I often have with Ted. Let's just say I'm a bigger fan of stats than is Ted. As a guy who relies upon what he sees with his eyes to inform his opinions of football players (or anything else, for that matter), Ted thinks stats do not or will not capture the essence of someone like Tebow, who indisputably brings some terrific, immeasurable qualities to a football team and onto the field.

I disagree; my position is simply that the conventional stats folks tend to rely upon (ie. gross yardage, TD passes, interceptions) are not the ones that ever paint the most accurate picture anyway, so I don't care how Tebow ranks in those categories (rate stats like ANY/A, TD%, INT% are much more telling). In other words, if Tebow does become a good or great NFL player, we already have tools to accurately measure that via stats - this will not turn into a case of Tebow winning lots of games for the Broncos at QB while accumulating some crappy stats. If/when Tebow becomes a sustained NFL success, we'll know it with our eyes, and the stats that really matter will show that. (Sustained, because flukey things like a QB playing like crap but winning can happen in any single game, or even be strung into a good season or two. See Young, Vince.)

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The Daily Lard 10-24-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's Monday, which means it's time for another wet towel to dampen all the excitement. I know, a win is a win, right? Especially when you come back from down 15-0 with 5:23 left on the clock to emerge 18-15 in OT (box score), and especially when your QB is making his fourth NFL start, right? Obviously, the ending was exhilirating, improbable and memorable, and if one had flipped on the game at that point they'd think Tim Tebow was an excellent NFL QB - and for those 5:23 of game time, that would be pretty accurate.

But here's the thing - we can't just judge Tim on those two drives. We all witnessed the first 54:37 of the game and Denver's prior 11 possessions, two of which went for more than 16 yards (34 and 54, to be exact). No, the playcalling wasn't good. But Tebow was worse. He was beyond terrible. What kind of calls can you make when your QB is missing wide open targets by 10 yards, or throwing the ball five yards out of bounds with open receivers and no pressure? Not only were the Broncos without a third-down conversion until the fourth quarter, but they were without a single passing first down until more than half of the fourth quarter was gone.

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The Daily Lard 10-23-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know what really grinds my gears? People like Dan Gainor (whom Kiszla quotes extensively in his column today) who say they're rooting for Tim Tebow because he's a "good role model" and a "player whose jersey you can wear and not worry about wanting to burn it tomorrow" because presumably he's not engaging in any scandalous behavior. Right, because most players are involved in scandals? Are the Broncos lacking in role models? What's wrong with Champ Bailey, Brian Dawkins, Elvis Dumervil, Eddie Royal, or Kyle Orton among the notable Denver veterans?

What's even funnier, is that Gainor goes on to say that if whatever criticism is directed at Tebow were instead aimed at a racial minority, there would be quite the backlash. This prompts a simple question. Would folks like Gainor be so interested in Tebow or in extolling his virtues if Tim weren't white?

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The Daily Lard 10-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver is hoping to have Julius Thomas in action tomorrow, although he's listed as questionable. Brian Dawkins, Demaryius Thomas, Eddie Royal and Willis McGahee are all listed as probably and will play.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins are banged up at free safety and are unlikely to have usual starter Reshad Jones (doubtful) and his main backup Chris Clemons (questionable). That leaves Tyrone Culver, who's primarily a special-teams player, and Gerald Alexander (who was just re-signed on Wednesday) to man the position. CB Vontae Davis and TE Will Yeatman are also questionable, while Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush, LB Cameron Wake, RB Daniel Thomas, and CB Nolan Carroll are all listed as probable.

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The Daily Lard 10-21-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Chris Benson previews Sunday's game for PFF, and he's looking forward to seeing what Denver's young wideouts have to offer - he says Demaryius Thomas provides the most potential, and that Eric Decker must prove that he can get open without Brandon Lloyd commanding the attention of opposing defenses. Benson writes that winning the game (for either team) will be a matter of committing to the run and not making big/costly mistakes in the passing game, and he points out that Joe Mays has been very much hit or miss (literally) in run defense. In fact, Mays is among the leaders among inside backers in terms of defensive stops, but he's got a stomach-turning number of whiffed tackles (eight in five games).

Finally, Benson is interested to see how Orlando Franklin fares (along with whatever TE help Denver provides him) in keeping Dolphins pass rusher Cameron Wake away from Tim Tebow, and he considers it another important key to the game.

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The Daily Lard 10-20-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Woody responds to more Tebow-centric witch-hunt-y questions about Brandon Lloyd, and of course he says that Brandon "wasn't a troublemaker" and "didn't conduct his business in public." Woody points to Brandon's intellect and skill and writes that just like any wide receiver (except Brandon Marshall, of course) BLloyd wanted to stay friendly with all of the QBs to ensure they threw him the ball. He says that most of these Broncos talk to the media off the record, although he doesn't mention whether that's unusual as far as Denver teams go, or any NFL squads, for that matter. Woody says Lloyd used to be a good source for anonymous quotes, since he of course is so well-spoken.

In response to a question about how Denver fans treat their players, Woody points out that fans are the same everywhere, and he's right. Here in New York, Mets fans bombard the call-in sports talk shows with their misery, and even worse, ownership tends to "hear' them and react by overpaying guys like Jason Bay, Frankie Rodriguez, Ollie Perez and Luis Castillo, seemingly to pacify ticketholders who want something big done yesterday. And of course, as soon as these ill-advised moves fail and the players don't live up to their contracts, there are those same fans, booing. Carlos Beltran, one of the very best players in Mets history, is remembered by most fans for not swinging at one of the timeliest and most devastating curveballs you'll ever see, rather than the graceful excellence he exhibited every night. So, Kyle Orton has had a rough time with the Broncos, but it's not Denver-specific. The grass is just always greener, with other quarterbacks, cities and fanbases alike.

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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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