The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 12-8-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Ben Stockwell went over each of Tim Tebow's pass attempts Sunday for PFF, and he calls it "Step 1 in Tebow’s maturation as a passer" but cautions not to overstate the quality of his performance. By "Step 1" he means that Minnesota sold out to stop Tebow's run threat and gave him just two or three different looks to decipher in the passing game, and of course that didn't work out so well.

Stockwell also writes that Tebow & Co. have become a tough group to game plan for in just a week's time, and he suggests that, provided Tebow is the QB next year, opponents having had a full offseason to cook up a defensive strategy for Tim could make for a different story. Either way, it's obviously great to see Denver described as a matchup problem offensively - something they haven't been in a very long time.

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The Daily Lard 12-7-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! How anxious is Matt Forte to get back onto the field for the Bears? Well, he's already turned to PRP injections (platelet-rich plasma) to help heal his sprained right knee, if that tells you anything. There's basically no chance Forte suit up on Sunday in Denver; so the Broncos will be facing the fearsome backfield duo of Caleb Hanie and either Marion Barber or Kahlil Bell, who's spent more time in scout-team duty than actually playing in Chicago's offense.

Quite a downgrade from Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, huh? Just goes to show that when looking at a fearsome schedule months in advance, any multitude of events can change its complexion when the games actually roll up. Just two months ago, Denver's schedule looked like a largely-winless gauntlet with the Broncos headed back for another top-five draft choice in April. But, an improved running game, the defense stepping up in a huge way (even last week, some key takeaways were mixed into the poor play) and the mostly turnover-free play of Tim Tebow, and a slew of opponents injuries has the Broncos appearing headed for the playoffs. But it's not just the Broncos' fortunes that have changed so drastically, as Chase Stuart points out. Remember how the Bills and Shanny were each back to relevance? Oops...

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The Daily Lard 12-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In our CTF from Sunday’s game, Ted pointed out that Eric Decker was sporting some epic sideburns. Well, it turns out that Decker wasn’t alone in Mutton Chop Land. Apparently several Broncos did a no-shave November in support of men’s cancer awareness, and Britton Colquitt (A la Souvarov), Decker (The Winnfield), Adam Weber (Franz Josef) and Matt Prater (Friendly Mutton Chops) each reprised a classic moustache/beard style.

If this team does end up making a playoff run, it would be pretty neat for the whole squad to be sporting some epic facial hair, coaches included. John Fox could go with the C. Everett Koop, and someone would have to do a Dali. We’ve already seen Champ Bailey rocking the Old Dutch; how great would it be to see a French Fork or Sparrow from him?

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The Daily Lard 12-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Denver offense must have set their watches wrong upon arrival in Minnesota, because they did their thing about an hour earlier than usual in leading the Broncos to a 35-32 victory over the Vikings and into a first-place tie with the Raiders. Instead of waiting until the last five minutes of the game to show up as has been their trademark, Tim Tebow & Co. came out firing after halftime.

Following their fourth-consecutive brutal first half (48 net yards, one first down, zero points), the Broncos scored 28 second-half points and Tebow was a sparkling 6-of-9 for 173 yards with two TD passes to Demaryius Thomas - the first a beautiful strike on a busted coverage by the Vikings and the second a catch-and-run by Thomas after Tebow bought time outside the pocket before making a patient throw.

True to form early on, the Denver defense kept the Broncos in the game and provided all of the team's first-half points with a pick-six from Mario Haggan, who was subbing for the injured Von Miller. But Willis McGahee was caught for a safety on the Broncos' first play from scrimmage, and a fumble by McGahee and another by Tebow led to a pair of Vikings field goals, helping Minnesota to a 15-7 halftime lead.

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The Daily Lard 12-4-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As distant and microscopic a possibility playoff contention had appeared just a few weeks back, Denver has a chance to move into a tie for first place in the AFC West today with a victory in Minnesota combined with an Oakland loss at Miami. Key to the Broncos' chances will be the status of Von Miller, who had surgery on Tuesday to repair torn thumb ligaments and will be a game-time decision. But even if he does play, he'll be wearing a cast on his right hand and will likely cede a good deal of playing time to Mario Haggan.

For those of you clamoring for Tebow's pass/run data combined, stay tuned...

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The Daily Lard 12-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I know some of you are probably exhausted by the Tebow/stats talk, but in the comments of yesterday's Lard, reader DavidinLA shared a link to a Mark Kriegel column about those very topics, and I think it's worthy of some discussion. If nothing else, I'd like to share my opinion of stats and writing about them in general.

My first reaction to Kriegel's column is that a red flag goes up for me anytime a sports columnist who rarely or never mention stats in their typical writing decides to suddenly cite them because they happen to support his/her viewpoint. In this case, Kriegel sought out some stats to prove his point, which is the worst mindset from which to turn to stats - when you set out to prove something via stats, you are going to have blinders on, and you're going to get someone to feed you some line of crap, because damnit you've got a deadline to meet and a premise to bolster.

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The Daily Lard 12-2-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! You may recall that the other day I applauded the "spirit of what (Kerry) Byrne and CHFF are trying to do" with their "Real QB Rating" before going on to criticize Byrne's interpretation of the numbers CHFF's new metric had spit out. Well, I guess I should have looked deeper into this Real QB Rating, because as Mike Tanier explains in great detail, it has extreme flaws. Relax, Tebowmaniacs - none of this is a criticism of Tim, but rather of CHFF's methods as they relate to Real QB Rating.

So, here's the problem with it: Real QB Rating relies upon the old-school QB Rating as a framework, and it overcredits completion percentage in a big way - and as my friend Ted Bartlett has written many times already, completion percentage is completely overrated (although I wouldn't go as far as to say it's worthless). As Tanier shows, a slight improvement in completion % without adding even a yard of production has a significant positive impact on a QB rating, and that's just not going to help us evaluate a quarterback.

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The Daily Lard 12-1-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I've just sat here for the past 40 minutes trying to respond to complaints about my tone of late, but I've actually run out of time. So, I'm going to get myself to work and finish up my thoughts later when I get a chance. Worst Lard intro ever, I know. More of the self-referencing garbage that I so intently try to avoid - that makes 10 uses of I/me/my/myself, or 10 more than this writer would like to use each day. Sorry, folks - enjoy the links and have a great day!

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The Daily Lard 11-30-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his YGS column yesterday, Ted addressed my own mentally masturbative claim from our CTF in which I suggested the Broncos would be "a legit team" with a league-average QB. I was not discounting Tebow's contributions to Denver's winning streak when I wrote that - we can't arbitrarily subtract his play from the past six weeks and say the Broncos would still be 5-1. It would be foolish and pointless to do so, actually - Tebow played a part in all five wins in varying degrees (IMO none more so than in San Diego). They didn't win in spite of Tim or his play. Obviously, Tim has a lot to do with how and why the Broncos have been so effective running the ball, and I have no problem accepting that they'd be far less devastating there (if even very good at all) with another QB.

My opinion was (and still is) that another QB (not necessarily Orton), given the quality of defense and special teams Tebow's been afforded these past six games, would do quite well, and that success would be sustainable (which is what I meant or should have written when I wrote legit). I don't think it's a far reach to say there are plenty of NFL QBs who would be scoring significantly more than the 16 points per game the Tebow-led offense has been accumulating. However you slice it, the abundance of one- and two-minute offensive possessions Denver's gotten in the past six weeks are pure defense killers.

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The Daily Lard 11-29-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis goes all Woody Paige in responding to a reasonable and intelligent question about the Broncos' struggles to score points and extend drives beyond three plays with Tebow at the helm. He does so by cherry-picking some numbers which make the Tebow-led offense appear more productive than it's been; according to Klis' calculations, the Broncos have scored 21.2 points in their five wins under Tebow, as if points per win ever mattered. For one, this removes the 10-point effort against the Lions, which when included brings the figure down to 19.3 points. Secondly, two of the touchdowns scored during this time were provided by Eddie Royal's punt return in Oakland and Andre' Goodman's INT return against the Jets. Without those, the offense is down to 17 points per game, and then there's the issue of two games having gone to overtime, without which the Denver offense is scoring 16 points per game since Tebow took over.

Do all those other scores count? Of course! Should the Broncos give them back because Tebow wasn't responsible for them? Nope. But really, let's not say the offense is scoring 21+ points a game, okay? I can just see the water cooler conversations now. Fan A: The wins are nice, but we need to score more points to beat the good teams. Fan B: You're an idiot! They're scoring 21.2 points with Tebow! Mike Klis said so, must be true ZOMG!!

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