The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 7-1-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Jarrett Bell of USAT writes about the Broncos and the five biggest questions he deems they're facing this season, starting with whether John Elway will succeed as a front-office exec and if Tim Tebow can wrest the starting QB job from Kyle Orton. He figures the presence of John Fox means that hopefully the constant turnover at the DC position will finally come to an end, although Bell thinks the Broncos' selection of Von Miller over Marcell Dareus (of course, who knows if Dareus was even their second choice?) will be a hot debate topic going forward.

Bell concludes by wondering if Brian Dawkins has enough to contribute in his 16th season (and is it worth $6 million?) and if the Broncos can finally restore their home-field advantage. That last one should be filed under the "moot points" category, as good teams always have good records at home, while mediocre and poor teams (like Denver has been for the past five years) do not. They just have to become a better team, period. The rest (winning at home, beating division rivals and lesser teams, etc.) result from that...not vice versa.

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The Daily Lard 6-30-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In Woody's latest mailbag, he shares some good insight on the Denver coaching staff, as John Fox retained 11 of Josh McDaniels' assistants, mostly on the offensive side. Paige writes that there was a divide among the staff last year, with defensive assistants comprising what he calls the "anti-McDaniels faction," most or all of whom have moved on. He also points out that Fox quite interestingly kept on Mark Thewes, McDaniels' best friend and assistant, citing the job Thewes did of insulating and protecting McDaniels as his situation in Denver worsened.

Woody figures that if Tim Tebow is the starting QB, we can expect to see more plays that utilize his ability to get out of the pocket, and he theorizes that Knowshon Moreno will at best either split carries or become more of a third-down type back. He also floats the idea of re-signing Daniel Graham, but that seems unlikely considering his advanced age and the diverse talent and youth already on the roster at that position. Woody expects little meddling from Fox on offense, not because it's Fox's way (it is) but because he'll need to focus on helping Dennis Allen in his first year as DC.

Woody says not to expect Justin Bannan back, and that he's likely headed eastward. Finally, he says that the only way Kyle Orton ends up starting at QB is if the labor talks go much later than expected, resulting in an abridged training camp.

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The Daily Lard 6-29-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As he profiles Julius Thomas and his transition to the NFL, Klis changed his mind sometime yesterday and realized that no, the Broncos probably won't be signing any veteran tight ends in free agency. Meanwhile, Thomas has been staying with Brady Quinn and was apparently the first of Denver's nine picks to join the veteran workouts yesterday when he caught passes from Quinn.

Klis also helps us clarify the rookies/playbooks mystery: Thomas and the rest of the second-day draftees apparently don't have them, while the first-day picks do. But really, how does that make any sense at all? It can't be that the relationship between fellow draftees or between veterans and rookies is so cutthroat that they don't want to help each other out, right? It would presumably take just one player with a playbook and some initiative to head over to a Staples or Kinko's and have some copies made for his mates. Perhaps NFL playbooks now self-destruct when they're placed on a copy machine? Come on guys, it's been two months...

Note 10:50AM ET - As Ted pointed out to me, there is paper out there that prevents scans and copies, and it stands to reason that NFL teams would utilize this technology when printing their playbooks. So, that would explain things and render my rant moot...

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The Daily Lard 6-28-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Klis looks at the veteran running backs expected to be available in free agency, and thankfully doesn't list DeAngelo Williams as the best fit for Denver. Much more sensibly, Klis thinks Oakland's Michael Bush would be an ideal fit, and Bush certainly does more closely resemble the "Fox likes bigger RBs" meme, as the 27-year old has six inches and over thirty pounds on Williams. More importantly, Bush is likely to command much less in the way of guaranteed money.

Puzzingly, Klis is sticking with the "Denver needs to sign a pass-catching TE" line of thought even after the Broncos added Julius Thomas and Virgil Green via the draft to the incumbent group of Richard Quinn, Dan Gronkowski and Daniel Coats. Unless keeping five TEs on the roster is an option (how could it be?) it's quite hard to believe the Broncos would want to give another TE any amount of guaranteed money. Figure that Coats is a very likely cut, and three or four of the remaining players would make the final roster.

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The Daily Lard 6-27-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Among their latest Whispers, PFW reiterates that Mario Haggan is likely to be playing end (of course, we did hear it from LB caoch Richard Smith, so we already know it's fact) and says the Dolphins will also be interested in signing DeAngelo Williams. I don't know about you, but I really don't like the idea of Denver getting into any sort of bidding war over a 28-year-old running back. Granted, he's only carried the ball 841 times in the NFL (plus 118 receptions), but the lack of carries has been due to injuries, and his body did also endure 969 carries in college (plus 70 receptions). He's missed 16 games over the past two seasons; is that the kind of player you want to see the Broncos giving an eight-figure guarantee to?

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The Daily Lard 6-26-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Freeman writes that after having spoken with several players and league officials over the past couple days, he expects a new CBA will be reached sometime in early- or mid-July. Freeman thinks all of the recent progress was sparked by the owners' desire to salvage their preseason revenue, and he says parties from both sides have been much more optimistic about a new deal off the record than on.

Meanwhile, LB Ben Leber, who's a named plaintiff in the Brady suit and a free agent, says he expects a new CBA will be agreed upon in time for a full season to be played.

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The Daily Lard 6-25-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Leigh Steinberg considers the many ways the lockout will end up affecting teams this season, starting with the disadvantage teams like Denver will have as a new coaching staff races to familiarize itself with the players. Steinberg writes that veteran free agents will have plenty of catching up to do in learning new systems and getting acquainted with teammates, while both drafted and undrafted rookies will be at a serious competitive advantage. Due to the lack of offseason conditioning, Steinberg foresees an increase in serious injuries during training camp and a higher severity of injuries.

Along the same line of thinking, Jason Cole writes that teams expect to lean more on veteran players than ever before.

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The Daily Lard 6-24-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! ESPN's trio of Mortensen, Schefter and Clayton are reporting that as part of the labor talks, the two sides are considering measures to help teams retain their own players in what will be an abbreviated free agency period. One option is to give each team a right of first refusal on up to three free agents (only this year), allowing them to match contract offers from other franchises. Another idea under consideration is to open a brief window for teams to negotiate exclusively with their own players before free agency truly begins.

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The Daily Lard 6-23-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Woody writes that Tim Tebow was mostly coached last year by Mike McCoy and Adam Gase, and is very happy the two were retained for John Fox's staff. He also says that if Tebow is declared the starter this season and Kyle Orton is still around, that the veteran will demand a trade. interestingly, Woody writes that Fox sent Jake Delhomme packing from Carolina last year for the player's benefit and would like for Delhomme to back up and help mentor Tebow if Orton is indeed dealt away.

Plus, apparently Sam Farmer of the LA Times floated the idea of Pat Bowlen swapping franchises with Rams owner Stan Kroenke and moving the Rams to Los Angeles. But Woody says that's just not happening.

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The Daily Lard 6-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Although they were prepared to spend as much as two days ironing out their differences, the NFL's owners spent only five hours yesterday discussing the general framework of the next CBA. Having reached what Jeff Pash characterized as a "consensus within the ownership," the negotiations between the players and the league will reconvene today in a Boston suburb. And while Albert Breer writes that yesterday's meeting was more about general concepts than specific details, and both parties are maintaining the "there's a long way to go" mantra, the brevity of the powwow points to real progress being made.

Meanwhile, Jason Cole reports that the new league year could begin as soon as July 15, with veteran free agency and rookie OTAs first on the docket. Beyond agreeing to a new deal, Cole writes that the two sides would then need to settle the class-action suits filed in concert by active and retired players, followed by recertification of the NFLPA, and finally ratification of the CBA by ownership.

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