The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Still here Lard 5-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! There was indeed an earthquake last night in the Bay Area, but it only registered as a 3.6 and caused no major damage. So, we're all still here and what better time to give thanks than the day after the scheduled end of the world? Thanks friends, for being here each and every day and supporting our writing at IAOFM. We appreciate you, especially so after having escaped the end of the world.

Continue reading "Still here Lard 5-22-11"

The Daily Lard 5-21-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Hall spoke with Mike McCoy this week about what the OC has been up to in recent months. While the conversation doesn't offer much in the way of depth or detail, it's always nice to hear from someone like McCoy - especially while we're desperate for actual news. McCoy says his top priority this offseason has been getting new OL coach Dave Magazu and new WR coach Tyke Tolbert familiar with the the team's incumbent personnel (McCoy worked with Magazu for six years in Carolina, while Tolbert is a new colleague who was with Carolina in 2010 after stints in Arizona Buffalo).

As for what to expect when the Broncos have the ball in 2011, McCoy states that it will be a blend of all the offenses he and his assistants have been a part of, but that the core of the offense that Josh McDaniels had run for the past two seasons will largely remain intact. Basically, it sounds like the idea is to pass like the Broncos have under McDaniels and McCoy and run like the Panthers had under Magazu and head coach John Fox. As for the QBs, McCoy says he wants to be able to run the offense the same way no matter who's under center, although Broncos TV interestingly didn't show any Brady Quinn clips while McCoy discusses the position.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 5-21-11"

Cornerback stats Lard 5-20-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Khaled Elsayed of PFF shares some fascinating data on cornerback play, and there are some interesting findings, if not so much in the way of surprises. The conventional wisdom on cornerbacks measures them by interceptions, which of course is how players like Deltha O'Neal and Tory James make the Pro Bowl. Thankfully that's changing, as folks are learning to focus on how many times corners are targeted and how many receptions they allow in front of them. And while that's a good start, there's a lot more to it - with targets and receptions, we're talking about those dreaded counting stats, and those things don't usually paint the most accurate of pictures.

We prefer rate stats here at IAOFM, as does Elsayed, clearly - if Player A gives up 15 catches in 100 coverage plays (15%) while Player B allows 20 catches in 250 coverage plays (8%), who's better? Proponents of counting stats (or Raiders fans) would see that Player A gave up fewer plays and choose him, while an IAOFM reader would prefer player B, naturally. Of course, we can go deeper and look at rates of plays/targets/catches, which Elsayed does.

Anyway, the result of this data is that Nnamdi Asomugha ranks as tops in a couple of categories, while Champ Bailey isn't too far behind (although probably farther than you might expect). As would follow logically, these two players' CB partners (Stanford Routt and Perrish Cox) saw among the most throws per play as a result. But more interesting to me is that Sean Smith ranks among the elites, while Alphonso Smith is among the worst. You know who's been saying precisely those very things for a long time now? Ted Bartlett, of course. Now, Ted's not as big a fan of stats as I am, but since I happen to think both that Ted knows his stuff and that eventually there would be data to confirm Ted's evaluations, it's quite clear that I AM THE WINNER here (thanks Hondo).

Continue reading "Cornerback stats Lard 5-20-11"

Paige vs. Orton Lard 5-19-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Woody hints at there being a lot more to his collection of negative stories about Kyle Orton and reminds us that Josh McDaniels came very close to trading him away last summer. Without getting into details, he basically says that Orton is two-faced in presenting himself publicly as a good teammate while behind the scenes being something else entirely. It'll be interesting to see whether Woody comes through with details at some point, or if anyone else does, for that matter. He also (as expected) claims credit for Orton having shown up to last week's group workouts and for John Elway having been hired, and writes that Denver is (of course) not going to sign Nnamdi Asomugha.

I've written here before that I think Woody has it in for Orton. To be clear though, I'm referrring to the way he slips these little nuggets in as asides and his column last week saying Orton should be leading workouts. I see those as Woody's way of turning public opinion against the QB in a manner that strikes as insidious. However, I do not believe that Woody Paige has ever played fast or loose when it comes to presenting facts, and I am not accusing him of doing so here, either. If Woody says that Kyle Orton hasn't been the good soldier everyone assumes he's been, and that he hasn't treated Tim Tebow with much in the way of respect, I believe him. It's understandable that he doesn't just come right out and tell us everything he knows about Orton, as that could place Woodrow's own relationship with the organization in jeopardy, and what then if Orton isn't traded?

Continue reading "Paige vs. Orton Lard 5-19-11"

The Daily Lard 5-18-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Andrew Brandt thinks that the Eighth Circuit's decision to permanently stay Judge Nelson's lockout injunction points to the owners also winning their appeal, and expects that decision to be delivered in late June or early July. On the flip side, Brandt points out that the players are still likely to score big victories in the Brady antitrust case as relates to the draft, free agency and the salary cap, should we reach the point of the players actually litigating those issues. However, such actions are quite far away from actually happening, and likely wouldn't reach a courtroom for perhaps a matter of years. So although mediation is not due to pick up for another three weeks from yesterday, Brandt wonders if we've reached a window where a deal could be reached.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 5-18-11"

Longer lockout Lard 5-17-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The NFL last night won its first victory in the labor battle with the players, as the Eighth Circuit made permanent their stay of Judge Nelson's lockout injunction, or in plainer English the lockout is back on in a big way. Even more plainly, yesterday means that there is in fact now a real chance that the 2011 season will be delayed, as the lockout will likely continue throughout the appeals process if not longer. Arguments before the Eighth Circuit will begin on June 3, although yesterday's decision makes it appear the owners are likely to win their appeal of Judge Nelson's lockout injunction.

Granted, this decision is not a huge surprise in light of the Eighth Circuit's prior granting of a temporary stay, the lengthy time it took to make that decision permanent, and its expedition of the appeals process. And while this most certainly swings a good deal of leverage back to the owners, whatever penalty Judge Doty imposes in his looming decision regarding the TV lockout insurance money is expected to give "momentum" back to the players. Of course, the owners will surely appeal that decision as well, as is their right...

Continue reading "Longer lockout Lard 5-17-11"

The Daily Lard 5-16-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Former CU Buffs fullback Keith Miller is soon to make his debut with the Seattle Opera in their production of The Magic Flute. How did Miller go from being an NFL prospect to an opera singer? Well, it was the Broncos deciding they were not interested in him following a workout that sealed the deal. Miller had previously played in the XFL and Arena League, but after fruitless workouts with both Oakland and Denver, Miller decided in 2002 it was time to pursue his other calling. It was a good move, apparently - Miller has sung in more than 200 performances for the Metropolitan Opera and was featured in the NY Times a couple years back.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 5-16-11"

The Daily Lard 5-15-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know, just the other day I was both wondering if Dennis Allen was trying to keep some super-low profile and wanting to hear more out of our new defensive coordinator. Happily, Krieger caught up with Allen on Friday and helps us get to know him just a bit better. While Allen is frustrated by the inability to coach up his new players due to the lockout, he's keeping busy by studying film of the Broncos' AFC West rivals. Plus, he expects the players to be familiar with the terminology of his defense the next time they meet, as they all got their new playbooks during the brief window of Judge Nelson's lockout injunction.

Like John Elway and Fox and Brain Xanders have been stressing all offseason, Allen made it clear he plans to employ a defense characterized by pressure, aggression and athleticism. Granted, we've heard this from each of Allen's many recent predecessors, but the rookie DC plans to get after the quarterback, turn the ball over, prevent big plays and be stout in the scoring area. Also echoing his bosses, Allen admitted that the Broncos may be interested in bringing back Justin Bannan (and perhaps Jamal Williams), the cutting of whom to avoid a $500,000 bonus looms as the biggest personnel blunder of 2011 (so far) for Denver.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 5-15-11"

The Daily Lard 5-14-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Johns Elway and Fox apparently told Chris Mortensen yesterday that Brady Quinn is truly in the running for the starting gig, as hard as that is to believe. Of course, Mort probably just asked about Quinn's status - and what else could the Johns have said? "Yeah, he's on a one-year, $800K deal to be our backup, and if he's comfortable in that role we'll re-sign him next year. Tebow's our starter and we'd like a second-rounder for Kyle but will be glad to end up with a third-rounder for a guy who's going to make over $7 million this season with no team control beyond 2011." That may be what they're thinking, but of course they can't say it...

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 5-14-11"

Not quite as Big Vick Lard 5-13-11

Happy Friday the 13th, Broncos fans! Kevin Vickerson stunned his teammates by showing up in Denver this week down over 30 pounds from when they last saw him. LJ writes that Vickerson weighed in at a relatively svelt 285 pounds as opposed to the 321 he played at in 2010, armed with a two-year deal that will guarantee him $1 million this summer even if there's a lockout. Vickerson, who will be moving inside for John Fox and Dennis Allen's new defense, says he expects that Denver will sign another defensive tackle or two in free agency. Finally, he hopes to be a three-down player and says the FO wants him to be both a starter and a leader in 2011.

Vickerson also spoke with (starts at around 18m40s) Mike & Scott on The Fan yesterday about the players' workouts, his role in the new defense and his weight loss, which he says will help him become that three-down player. BTW, try not to walk under any ladders today...

Continue reading "Not quite as Big Vick Lard 5-13-11"