The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 5-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Woody Paige thinks the Broncos' players should be gathering en masse to practice and basically points the finger at Kyle Orton to take charge in doing so. Aside from the possibility that Paige is just doing his best to turn more people against Orton and thus run him out of town (anyone wonder what the unassuming guy did to Woodrow?), it's an interesting point to consider. Orton is in a most curious position - he's the team's labor rep, is under contract for just one season (albeit for over $7 million), has been the focus of trade speculation for several months, and has been discussed by the Broncos' front office first as being the starting QB to more recently being just one half of an open competition for the job. Orton is also competing with a guy in Tim Tebow who sells jerseys and tickets and is his polar opposite in both his image as a player and in demeanor, and the only way Orton could ever win in the court of public opinion (for what that's worth) is by winning big.

That's not to say Orton is in an unwinnable position, nor to speculate that he's already assuming his time is up in Denver - he's a professional athlete and has competitive pride; we're not talking about some pushover who just wants to collect a paycheck. But what nobody would ever call Orton (at least from the outsider's view) is a rah-rah guy or an obvious leader of men. So my questions are these: Would it be within Kyle Orton's character to call up his 80 or so teammates and try to gather them up? Does he have the "pull" with his teammates to actually get them to show up? What does Orton have personally to gain by doing so? Is it reasonable to expect of Orton what Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Matt Cassel and others have been up to? Keep in mind, there haven't been (to my knowledge) stories about Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler (just threw that in for a chuckle) rounding up their mates to play. I happen to think Woody is making something of nothing in pursuit of his own agenda, but I'd love to hear what y'all think...

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The Daily Lard 5-4-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Apologies for the late Lard of late; I've been out of town for a few days, and we'll be back on the normal schedule tomorrow. Tim Tebow was the keynote speaker at John Lynch's scholarship/awards luncheon for area middle- and high-school students, and he spoke more about his workout program so far this offseason. Tebow says he's been focusing on play-action passing and has been able to spend time with "most of the guys," whatever that means. Of course, he's now got a new playbook to study courtesy of Mike McCoy. Here are Andrew Mason and Gray Caldwell's stories on the luncheon.

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The Daily Lard 5-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Klis lets us in on some of the Broncos' pre-draft thinking/strategies: Denver did indeed hope to trade back from #2 to a team hot after Blaine Gabbert, whether it be the Bills, Bengals, Cards, Niners, Titans and Skins. Unfortunately, those calls never came in earnest; Klis also writes that the Broncos were zeroed in on Von Miller since early February and were indeed willing to trade back a few spots from #2 in hopes of loading up on more picks and still having a chance to go with Nick Fairley. Plus, Denver couldn't turn down the value they perceived in Quinton Carter in the fourth round to pick up a DT there, and the team was in fact also interested in Arkansas TE D.J. Williams when they decided to trade up for Julius Thomas. Finally, Klis writes in response to an apparently incorrect PFT post (go figure, an overblown headline at PFT...) about the Falcons/Broncos that while the two teams discussed the possibility of swapping first-round picks long ago, Atlanta never made an offer.

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Corrective Lard 5-2-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I need to acknowledge a blatant error I made within yesterday's Lard (as pointed out by IAOFM reader SteveUk) in regards to the possibility that Denver could have moved up to draft a falling Nick Fairley. The hypothetical swap to weigh is not a three-for-one deal in reality, but rather a five-for-one deal as Denver only acquired their fourth- and fifth-rounders when they traded down from 36 to 45 later on (the fifth-rounder was dealt to Green Bay as part of the deal to move up and get Julius Thomas at #129 overall). So, the real question is whether you'd prefer to have Nick Fairley or the quintet of Rahim Moore, Orlando Franklin, Nate Irving, Quinton Carter and Thomas - at this point, considering the holes Denver entered the draft with, it seems clear that Denver did the right thing. Now, about those defensive tackles...

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Choice reads on the Broncos’ 2011 picks

Now that the 2011 Draft is over and done with, I thought it'd be useful to collect some reading material on the newest Broncos. Obviously, this is an exercise which could in theory be neverending, so I restricted it to writers who I tend to greatly respect and/or follow. This includes Doc, TJ and Ted - while including them may be a bit self-serving, I think there's a ton of value in rereading what the three of them wrote about Von Miller over the past several months. As the focus here is on writing, I am not including video or audio here. Perhaps that will be for another day. Anyway, I hope you find some value in this collection, and I'll add to it as necessary.

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The Daily Lard 5-1-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Last night put a wrap on the 2011 Draft, and Denver came away with nine picks - three linebackers, two safeties, two tight ends, a tackle and a defensive end. Of course, that list is perhaps most notable for what it didn't have - a defensive tackle (or two), although the position was certainly on the minds of the Broncos' front office - John Fox on Friday night said, "I probably would have felt better if we could have gotten a defensive tackle," and last night told Vic Lombardi there's a chance Denver will bring back Justin Bannan and/or Jamal Williams once free agency begins. Not sure how much weight should be lent to the latter though, because if Lombardi framed it along the lines of "Will you consider bringing back Bannan and Williams?" then why would Fox ever say, "No, we're moving on."? It's unlikely, at best...

Somehow I skimmed over this yesterday morning, but Mike Klis wrote that the Broncos did indeed consider trading back up into the first round to select the falling Nick Fairley, but decided to pass on surrendering both of their second-rounders and their third-rounder for the chance to get the DT who went to Detroit at #13.* If there was in fact a deal to be made, that begs the question: Would you rather have Nick Fairley, a potential game-changing disruptor, or would you prefer the trio of hopeful starters Rahim Moore, Orlando Franklin and Nate Irving?quintet of Rahim Moore, Orlando Franklin, Nate Irving, Qunton Carter and Julius Thomas?** Then again, Klis' more recent entry makes it sound that Fairley would have to have slipped further for Denver to be able to acquire him.

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Bizarro World Lard 4-30-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Last night held a few surprises, as Denver came away without a new defensive tackle but moved down from #36 in a deal with San Francisco which added fourth- and fifth-rounders to bring the Broncos' total cache of 2011 picks to nine (for now). It's easy to be frustrated at the Broncos' brass for not having taken a DT (as you saw in our Chewing the Fat series), but don't forget that we're reacting to a draft that's completely different than most (if not all) of us are used to. Usually by now, the bulk of free agency has  already come and gone, meaning any holes that were not filled with veteran imports could reasonably be expected to be addressed this very weekend. If our team were really pushing the envelope, they might leave a big hole or two in anticipation of some significant June 1st salary dumps coming to save the day.

But our football world has been flipped upside down this year, and obviously some of us haven't quite adjusted yet. Yes, defensive tackle is a great need for Denver. Yes, the defense was atrocious in three of the past four seasons. But you know what? Before last night our projected starting lineup may have included Joe Mays or Wesley Woodyard, and while Wes is a favorite of ours here at IAOFM, he has never shown the durability to be a 16-game starter. Now we're looking at a starting trio across the middle of Von Miller, Nate Irving and D.J. Williams. D.J. has taken a lot of heat here, but it's not because he's a poor player - he just isn't the superstar (or star) we'd all like for him to be. But surrounded with more talent in 2011, he won't have to be a star, and he will no longer be the only linebacker offenses have to concern themselves with (post-Robert Ayers moving down to the line).

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Draft day two midday Lard 4-29-11

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! Several Denver players showed up at Dove Valley this morning to work out and pick up playbooks. Here's LJ's list of the players in order of arrival. Riveting stuff, truly.

On the labor front, Mike Silver is reporting that the Eighth Circuit may issue a temporary "administrative" stay of Judge Nelson's lockout injunction, in which case the lockout would not be lifted before at least Monday. Confused? Yeah, me too...

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The Daily Lard 4-29-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Denver's night didn't last long, as they selected LB Von Miller out of Texas A&M at #2 and sat by the phones the rest of the first round (although some phone calls were made). So, the Broncos have vastly upgraded their LB corps, and they'll enter tonight with three choices - numbers 36, 46 and 67 overall. Plenty of ammo to add a defensive tackle or two, plus perhaps a new right tackle and/or a tight end or running back. While Denver didn't make any trades last night, their reported desire to come away with more choices than the seven they started the draft with could come to fruition tonight.

Mike Klis wrote that Denver could trade back from the #36 spot with teams hot and heavy for QBs Colin Kaepernick of Nevada and Andy Dalton of TCU, and they figure to have interest in using their picks tonight on any of DTs Stephen Paea, Marvin Austin and Jurrell Casey, OT Ben Ijalana, RBs Mikel Leshoure, Daniel Thomas and Ryan Williams, TEs Kyle Rudolph and Lance Kendricks and CB Aaron Williams. Plus, he noted that from Miller's Dove Valley meeting with the Broncos' brass, the player expects to be the Sam 'backer on first and second downs and to focus solely upon rushing the passer on third downs.

We hope you enjoyed our coverage here at IAOFM of the first round last night, and you can expect more of the same tonight - Ted will be evaluating each pick instantly while the four of us will again be Chewing the Fat for each of Denver's selections, and there will of course be an open thread for y'all to discuss the goings on. But before that, we have Doc's excellent Broncography of Von Miller coming in just over an hour from now, and Ted will provide some analysis later on of the labor situation and Denver's Day 2 options.

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Draft day midday Lard 4-28-11

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! Lots of happenings, or at least rumored happenings - so it's time for another double dose of the Lard! First things first - as we here at IAOFM have been telling you since December (Ted for much longer, look it up), John Elway came out today in full support of Tim Tebow as the future QB of the Broncos. While he didn't necessarily state that Tebow will be the starter in 2011, he said to ESPN's Ed Werder about as much as he could without providing Kyle Orton with a slap in the face:

Let's put it this way, I'm his biggest fan. He's one of those guys who -- if he comes out and is the player we hope he can be -- then we're in pretty darn good shape...I don't know if it's going to be this fall or this time next year. But I think he's got the desire that eventually he's going to be very effective...I think where we are as an organization, we're going to go with Tim.

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