The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 9-30-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Surely this is going to bring some cries of diva, but Brandon Lloyd wants to see more deep targets in his direction. He does have 10 catches in just two games played (he missed the Bengals game with a groin injury), but his average reception has gone for just 12.7 yards, a pittance relative to his 18.8-yard average from last season.

Lloyd blames the team's purported commitment to the run, while John Fox says Lloyd just hasn't been healthy enough (probably true). Yet, the Broncos have a split of 62% pass and 38% run so far - they just haven't attacked deep, or as Ted would say, they haven't taken the top off of the defense. To wit, the Broncos and Kyle Orton have only attempted 13 deep passes through three games, completing five of them. Meanwhile, the team has just 7 passes that have gone for 20 or more yards (including YAC) which ties them for 8th-fewest in the league. Meanwhile, the Patriots have had 22 such plays and the Cowboys 20 of them, although the high-octane Packers have had just 9 passes go for 20+ yards and have only attempted 17 deep passes.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 9-30-11"

The Daily Lard 9-29-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver finally got Marcus Thomas back onto the practice field along with Champ Bailey and Elvis Dumervil, albeit in limited fashion for all three. It's been a rough go for Thomas, who suffered a pec injury during training camp and recovered in time for Week 1 before straining a groin during his conditioning test. Obviously, it could take him a while to get back into playing shape - so even if he's able to play on Sunday at all, figure his playing time to be severely limited.

Meanwhile, Knowshon Moreno and D.J. Williams were full participants yesterday, and it will be interesting to see how their respective returns affect how much action Willis McGahee and Wesley Woodyard see in Green Bay. Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas remain sidelined and are unlikely to return prior to Week 7 (following Denver's bye).

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 9-29-11"

The Daily Lard 9-28-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As Legwold reminds us, it's getting about time for the Denver offense to start putting together some longer drives to give its own defense a breather, and to shorten the game for them. Revisiting the drive data I've been going over after games, the Broncos have had 22 possessions the past two weeks excluding the kneeldown to end the win over Cincy. Of these 22 possessions, six resulted in scores, while all 16 non-scoring drives have consumed 2:46 or less of game clock, and the only drive among the 16 that lasted longer than six plays ended in an interception (the one that sealed Sunday's loss). A staggering 10 of the 16 non-scoring drives were three-or-less and out.

Yes, the defense has overall been quite impressive, at least relative to the garbage we became accustomed to in 2008 and 2010. But it's not going to cut it against Aaron Rodgers & Co. unless the offense helps them out a bit, extends some drives and kills some clock, not to mention scores some points. If not, it's going to be a long Sunday for all of us...

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 9-28-11"

The Daily Lard 9-27-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Plenty of injury updates from Mike Klis: Denver is expecting to have Elvis Dumervil, Champ Bailey, D.J. Williams and Knowshon Moreno back in action this week for their game in Green Bay. Obviously, they'll need all the help they can get, so these returns could not come soon enough, although whether having Williams take over for his worthy replacement Wesley Woodyard isn't so clear.

In more great news, Marcus Thomas is expected to practice this week but perhaps on a limited basis - it remains to be seen if  he's anywhere near the proper shape to play after missing most of camp with a strained pec and then missing the first three games with a groin injury. Julius Thomas got rid of his walking boot and could be back next week against San Diego, while the other injured Thomas (Demaryius) is not expected back until Week 7 (after the bye).

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 9-27-11"

The Daily Lard 9-26-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! So, welcome to Foxball, everyone. After falling to the Titans in Tennessee 17-14 (box score), Denver's 1-2 record consists of two three-point losses and a two-point victory. Once again, the Broncos' defense did enough to win, and a remarkable lack of discipline by the Titans (11 penalties for 80 yards and three huge first downs) kept Denver in a game where its offense was outclassed (231 net yards on 63 plays for a paltry 3.7-yard average).

Last week against the Bengals, Denver's offense produced two long scoring drives and two quick TDs but sputtered on eight possessions which each took four plays or fewer and consumed 2:13 or less of game clock. Yesterday was much of the same, as the team managed two TD drives but couldn't sustain its other eight possessions, which maxed out at 2:46 worth of game clock. Willis McGahee could gain only 52 yards on 22 attempts, while Kyle Orton's 39 passes garnered a measly 173 yards. That, my friends, is the epitome of inefficiency.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 9-26-11"

The Daily Lard 9-25-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I don't often utilize this space to address or respond to comments, but I feel like doing so today. Yesterday, it was stated that pointing out Kyle Orton's shortcomings was becoming a tired exercise, that the Orton/Tebow debate is old hat. That bringing up the sack data from FO was useless. Here's what I have to say about that:

  1. Focusing on the fact that Orton holds the ball too long does not relate to Tim Tebow, nor was it a call for the youngster to play.
  2. It's not hackneyed, because we hear all the time that Orton doesn't stand a chance behind Denver's offensive line, or did you miss all the reaction to the opener versus the Raiders?
  3. IAOFM is about critical thinking. It's not about sticking to positivity, Kool-Aid, or expecting the Broncos to go 13-3 every year. You know where to go for that. And as Ted mentioned yesterday, there's no room for getting emotionally attached to one player or another, at least not for us writers. I'm guessing a lot of you would visit us a lot less frequently if we were to hold to our opinions out of stubbornness and ignore facts and film. Like Ted, I am constantly getting new information from my eyes, and if that means a fluidity to my assessments of Orton and Tebow, then so be it. Honestly, I do not care who is quarterbacking the Denver Broncos - only that he does so for a long time and at a high level that produces lots of wins for our team. That's it. Yes, there are other things to worry about, but in the NFL it's all about the quarterback, and the Broncos are unsettled in that department. So until that changes, we are going to be spending a lot of time here writing/debating the quarterback position.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get to the day's news. Of course, we'll have some Fat Pickins, an open thread and TJ's incomparable Gut Reactions for you today. Have a great day, everyone!

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 9-25-11"

The Daily Lard 9-24-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Here's something to consider when figuring out where to assign blame for the 70 sacks Kyle Orton has taken during his 31 games as a Bronco - how long do the sacks of Orton take to play out? Obviously, there's been plenty of chatter here about Orton and pass protection, and it's been my assertion that Kyle "walks into" too many of them due to his poor pocket awareness and mobility within it, while Ted has focused on Orton's tendency to hold the ball too long and his reluctance to check it down.

Well, as the data from J.J. Cooper of Football Outsiders points out, the overwhelming majority (80.49%) of sacks Denver allowed in 2009 and 2010 took more than 2.5 seconds to play out, which is the fifth-highest such figure among all teams, trailing only the Chiefs, Titans, Ravens and Vikings. At the other end of the spectrum is the Colts and their craptastic offensive line - and although Indy didn't allow a high number of sacks, we all know that's a credit to Peyton Manning's awareness and quick decisions. An incredible 61.76% of their sacks allowed took less than 2.5 seconds to occur, or when Manning just didn't have time to get the ball out. So, Kyle...just get rid of the damn ball!

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 9-24-11"

The Daily Lard 9-23-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Denver's injury situation is gradually improving, with Brandon Lloyd a full participant in practice and limited participation from Elvis Dumervil, Knowshon Moreno and D.J. Williams yesterday. It's not clear whether Williams is expected to get the start over Wesley Woodyard, but Dennis Allen says D.J. could face some conditioning issues, so figure to see at least a decent amount of Woodyard come Sunday.

On the flip side, Champ Bailey has still not practiced since injuring his hamstring, although he's at least running and cutting. Basically, Champ sounds like he's not going to play, but that he would if it were a playoff game.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 9-23-11"

The Daily Lard 9-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag (once he's through with his weekly cheap shots at Josh McDaniels), Woody Paige says the Broncos' brass is as divided over Tim Tebow's prospects as us fans are, and he says the team did in fact look into dealing Tebow away, but that they encountered little in the way of interest when they did so. Woody admits to not really knowing how Brian Xanders feels about Tebow, and he seems as puzzled as we are that Xanders has so far emerged scot free from all the blame which has landed at Josh McDaniels' feet for draft picks gone wrong.

Woody goes on to say the team's hierarchy has nobody to blame but themselves for the PR problem they've had this season after having used Tebow to sell season-ticket renewals and then trying and failing to trade Orton. He also repeats what he said on Sandy Clough's show last week, suggesting the team should deal Tebow before the deadline if they're intent on drafting a new QB next April. In that vein, Woodrow takes a look at the schedule and realizes (especially with the fine play of Detroit and Buffalo) that the Broncos are worthy entrants to the Suck for Luck race.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 9-22-11"

The Daily Lard 9-21-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Obviously, there are many ways to view the outcome of Sunday's two-point victory - the Broncos made the plays they needed to win the game, they were fortunate to have the ball bounce their way on certain occasions, the Bengals shot themselves in the foot with ill-timed penalties, or Cincy just isn't that good. But as Frank Frigo tells it, there was another major factor at play: Marvin Lewis incredibly managed to out-conservative our own cautious John Fox, and it did in his team.

No, it wasn't Lewis' decision to forego a 54-yard FG attempt in the closing minutes; instead it was his puzzling choice to punt on 4th-and-1 at midfield twice to start the game and to kick a FG on another 4th-and-1 while down five points at Denver's five-yard line, late in the third quarter and with momentum clearly on the Bengals' side. According to Frigo's calculations, these unprogressive decisions cost the Bengals more than 34% in Game Winning Chance (GWC) with the chip-shot FG counting for almost half of that. Of course, the Broncos have not yet gone for it on a fourth down (they have not yet faced a situation where they should have), and during his nine years in Carolina, Fox went for it fewer than ten times in four of those seasons, so at some point this same fogyish strategy Lewis employed to keep his team from winning on Sunday will bite Denver in the rear. Mark it.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 9-21-11"