The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

When will then be now? Lard 2-25-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! If ever there were proof that context is everything when it comes to quotes, yesterday was it. When asked (on February 24th) who the Broncos' starting quarterback is, John Fox launched directly into saying that there will be an open competition for the job. I mean, there was no hesitation or fumbling around - Fox said flat out that it's a free-for-all, and then tossed in that at this very moment in time, Kyle Orton's the guy. So what happens next? Why of course, every football site on the interweb says that Fox named Kyle Orton the Broncos' starting quarterback or that Tim Tebow is not the Broncos' starting quarterback. Oh, brother.

First of all, we knew Fox would say this. Elway said it, Fox now said it, and surely Brain Xanders will be next. Of course, once Tebow is named the starter in a few months, Xanders will say that he never believed Orton was the guy, and that Elway just told him what to say. Secondly, Fox later went out of his way to define "now now," sort of like this.

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Getting bigger with smaller players Lard 2-24-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Ahh, it's been a while since we got a true gem out of Legwold - but it's Combine time, so he'll be writing up a storm. Today, he covers what he deems the Broncos' biggest roster needs outside the defense's front seven. First, Legwold says John Fox likes more physical TEs and decries the Broncos' lack of a touchdown from that position in 2010. Meanwhile, the Panthers got 2 TDs out of their guys last year, who happen to be a bit smaller than Denver's current group. No mention of the fact that tight ends just don't see the ball as much in Josh McDaniels' offense - that doesn't mean they lack receiving ability. But as for physicality, are Daniel Graham and Richard Quinn really lacking in that department?

Next up, Legwold continues his "DeAngelo Williams is a bigger, tougher back who fits Fox's profile better" narrative. In case you were wondering, Williams weighs five pounds less than does Knowshon Moreno, twelve fewer than Correll Buckhalter and falls thirty pounds shy of LenDale White. But yeah, let's upsize and add durability to our RB corps by signing DeAngelo, who by the way has missed 13 games over the past two seasons (Knowshon missed 3). Finally, Legwold says the Broncos could use some help at safety (well, one out of four ain't bad) and wide receiver. Yeah, wide receiver. Even with Demaryius Thomas and Eddie Royal rehabbing from their surgeries, we're long Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Eric Decker, Matthew Willis, and Eron Riley has a future contract. But sure - as the Broncos supposedly move toward being more of a power running team, they should draft some more wideouts. Makes perfect sense...

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Returning Champ Lard 2-23-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday was a great day for the Broncos and their fans with new of Champ Bailey's re-signing. However, his new deal isn't quite the steal as was originally reported - in addition to the $15 million in guarantees over the contract's first two seasons, $7 million of Bailey's 2013 salary will be protected against injury, and his entire salary will become fully guaranteed five days into the 2013 league year. Champ has essentially been guaranteed $22 million, and unless the team cuts him before sometime in March of 2013, Denver will be locked into paying him $32.5 million over three seasons.

Apparently, this is what happens when a team breaks contract news instead of the normally self-serving player agents doing so - or Champ's representative Jack Reale is the most humble agent in history. With another rep involved and someone like Josina or Pasquarelli reporting, this deal would have hit the wire as having $32.5 million in guarantees. See how that works? An agent would've called it $32.5 million, the team places it at $15 million and the reality is actually $22 million - a number much closer to what I had predicted. (I went to sleep last night feeling both out of touch with NFL finances and ecstatic for the Broncos.)

Back-patting aside, this is still a good deal for Denver - just not as fantabulous as it had seemed last night. It brings back Denver's best player over the past seven seasons (and a key leader), and the Broncos have one less gaping hole to address in their defense this offseason. Plus, if Champ is indeed willing to shift over to safety at some point during this contract (as he had said earlier), the Broncos have some protection on their investment should the player lose a step.

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Tebow support? Lard 2-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Lombardi is again writing about a lack of support for Tim Tebow within the Broncos organization. He says that holdovers from the organization pre-John Fox are "looking to distance themselves" from the decision to draft the quarterback last year. While it has seemed (to some) so far this offseason that Lombardi was pursuing some sort of agenda (perhaps on behalf of his friend Josh McDaniels), is his assertion anything different than what we've seen out of Dove Valley these past two months? Brian Xanders has already disavowed himself of practically every move McDaniels made, while John Elway has gone a lot farther than the typical "things just didn't work out" that one would expect.

Frankly, it's not that hard to figure out who Lombardi is referring to - it must be either Xanders, Mike McCoy, or both. QB coach Adam Gase, who worked with the WRs last year? Doesn't seem likely. I know that some of our readers have taken issue with Lombardi's statements regarding Tebow, but consider his body of work. Lombardi is one of the most knowledgeable and reasonable football analysts around, and it's hard to believe his reporting on Tebow is driven by anything of a personal nature. Lombardi is no Len Pasquarelli, folks.

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Extra Mayock Lard 2-21-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Toni Monkovic of the Times posted a lengthy interview with NFLN's Mike Mayock regarding the upcoming draft, and there's plenty of fascinating insight from Mayock. Of interest to us, he says that Cam Newton has better throwing mechanics than Tim Tebow, but of course the questions are whether he can handle an NFL playbook. Later on, Mayock states that the most important characteristic of a quarterback is not his physical ability, but his aptitude in understanding the complexities of a nuanced NFL offense and in reading defenses. He then points to a quick release, good feet and an athletic body, in that order of import. One has to think after reading this of Josh McDaniels and his praise for Tebow when he drafted the quarterback - the Broncos' former coach spoke most glowingly about Tebow's ability to quickly retain and recall terminology, much more so than about any of the QB's physical traits.

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Glitch Lard 2-20-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! We performed an upgrade of our system for the site yesterday, and unfortunately it was a bit buggy at first. As many of you discovered the hard way, commenting was disabled for a good chunk of the day; it was fixed last night. Thanks for bearing with it, and we're sorry for the annoyance and inconvenience of it all. Naturally, we can't quite promise that this sort of thing will never happen, but we'll always try to keep it to a minimum. Anytime you experience a problem with the site, please let us know via the "Contact" button atop the page (Thanks, Orange and Blue for the heads up yesterday).

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Cycle of snubs Lard 2-19-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Over at the NFP, Dan Pompei continues his defense of the HOF selection process; he likes Mike Lombardi's suggestion that voters watch some game film together. He brings up a funny point (not sure he meant it to be so) - as Ted often states, the fact alone that football writers get to vote on awards and on HOF entrance devalues the legitimacy of the HOF and all player awards, especially Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections. Back to Pompei - he says that so many people spend time panning the Pro Bowl votes for who got snubbed, and then when it comes time for the HOF, guys like Richard Dent are called unworthy because they didn't make enough Pro Bowls. It's just an endless cycle. But what about this? Dent and his four Pro Bowl selections made the HOF, but Karl Mecklenburg and his six Pro Bowls plus three All-Pro selections, Randy Gradishar and his seven Pro Bowls and two All-Pros, and Steve Atwater and his eight Pro Bowls and two All-Pro choices are barely in the discussion.

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Midday Lard 2-18-11

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! I don't plan on making a habit of this, but it's a slow day by me so I'm serving up an extra scoop of the Lard today...

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4-3 Lard 2-18-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! To no great surprise, John Fox has confirmed this week that Denver will be shifting back primarlly to useing a 4-3 defense. According to Klis, Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers will indeed be converted back to ends, while Justin Bannan will be playing tackle. Klis also suggests that Denver may use a high pick on a linebacker, with incumbent LBs DJ Williams (if he's still around) moving back to play weakside, Joe Mays or Mario Haggan in the middle, and either Wesley Woodyard or Haggan on the strongside. Whatever works, please. Oh, and it would be nice to has some continuity...

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Who do we want? Champ! Lard 2-17-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Ahh, the power of social media. Champ's announcement that he's put his house up for sale has already riled some fans up to action. As I write this, 77 people say they're gonna show up at the Big IF to convince Champ he should stay in Denver. Perhaps if they each bring along $500,000 cash (perhaps he'd take a certified check) they'll get a deal done. I don't mean to make light of either side here - for one, if people weren't so enthusiastic in their fanatacism toward the Broncos, TJ, Doc, Ted and I would have about twelve readers, including each other, our moms and a few friends. Secondly, it's hard to begrudge Champ the chance to break out of this new-defensive-coordinator-every-winter prison he's been stuck in for the past six years. Guy's a pro's pro, a HOFer, and seemingly an intelligent and upstanding guy. If he wants to go get a ring, his best chance will most definitely not be in Denver. For those who were wondering, Champ moved on from his Cherry Hills house when he apparently had the all-too-rare public-contention-free athlete divorce...

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