The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 12-10-10

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Matt Prater joined Andre' Goodman and Darcel McBath on the list of limited participants, due to a groin injury. Russ Hochstein and Jamal Williams returned to practice after missing Wednesday's for non-injury reasons. I'm sorry the Lard has been so sporadic in terms of timing this week; I was out of town until last night. Great time to get out of dodge, right? All will be back to normal come Monday. As always, thanks for being here and helping us make IAOFM a joy to produce. We appreciate your readership, and for "Liking" us and our posts on Facebook - every click gets the word out!

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Shiny Happy Players Lard 12-9-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans. Brian Dawkins, Demaryius Thomas and Spencer Larsen have already been declared out for Sunday's game. Andre' Goodman and Darcel McBath were limited participants in yesterday's practice, the first run by new interim coach Eric Studesville. Apparently Studesville is more of a motivator type than Josh McDaniels, and he extended an olive branch to the players yesterday by having them practice without pads.

Has anyone noticed that of Denver's 9 losses, 8 of them have come at the hands of teams that currently have 6 wins or more? On Sunday, the Broncos will face the worst team they've played all year in the Cardinals, and a fifth-round rookie QB in John Skelton. So if Denver wins, surely it will be because Studesville took the pads off, because he smiles more than McDaniels, and happier players are better players?  Sounds like a neat little DP narrative...

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The Daily Lard 12-8-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans. Two fine writers shared their thoughts on the McDaniels firing:

Not sure if Mike Lombardi is interested in getting back into the player evaluation business, but he wrote another column yesterday that just shows he "gets it" more than anyone else in the national media (is that a backhanded compliment?). I could point to about eight different paragraphs, but this one stands out...

In any sport, losing is extremely difficult -- it's hard on the mind, body and spirit. It challenges every prior belief an organization holds true, forcing constant evaluations of the path, the direction and the journey chosen for the organization. It is human nature to second-guess every move on a losing path. Few, in most sports, are willing to brave the losing, the criticism of the media, or the wrath of their fans. Believing in principles and having the courage to stand alone is a rarer quality than bravery in battle or superior intelligence. Yet it is the one essential for teams that desire to win Super Bowls.

Ted Bartlett examines the role of the Denver Post in Josh McDaniels' firing and says the future doesn't look so bright for us anymore...

The Denver Broncos entered into a full-scale reconstruction of the franchise in January, 2009.  Literally everything changed, much of it for the better.  The Broncos built a systematic approach to scouting, for the first time in memory.  They rid themselves of me-first players, and actively sought out team-first guys.  They ignored conventional wisdom, which over a long enough timeline, is always a good thing to do.  But they didn’t communicate that they were rebuilding, or ask for patience, or probably even admit to themselves what the situation really was...There are no shortcuts to setting yourself up to be good even on a mediocre day.  It’s a long process, and it never stops.  The Patriots continue to set the standard in that way.

Okay, enough with all that reason and clear thinking. Let's get to the silliness...

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Firing squad Lard 12-7-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans. Let's hope today will be better than yesterday was in Broncosland, although it should be simply by default. In case you've chosen this to be your first visit after a 14-hour blackout, well thank you very kindly. Unfortunately, we've got some wild news for you - Josh McDaniels has been fired by the Broncos, just 28 games and 23 months into his (unannounced) rebuilding process. There's even some talk that the team could attempt to withhold the balance of McDaniels' contract under the cover of a morals clause following the recent taping incident. RB coach Eric Studesville has been named the interim head coach, while rumors are flying that Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier, Air Force coach (and former Mike Shanahan/Gary Kubiak assistant) Troy Calhoun, and possibly even Kubiak himself, are the leading candidates. Meanwhile, there is plenty of speculation that Pat Bowlen will look to John Elway to fill some sort of front-office role; the two reportedly dined last night at the legendary QB's namesake steakhouse.

Broncos COO Joe Ellis and Studesville will speak to the press today at 1pm ET; the press conference will be streamed live via the team's official website. We'll provide an open thread at that time for your discussion. Frankly, I have a lot of thoughts about what happened yesterday, most of them not good. But it's probably best to reserve judgment until after today's presser and more details emerge. Oh, and it's late. FWIW, I"d love to see Jeff Fisher ride into town...

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Losing season Lard 12-6-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans. In case you were still hanging on, there's now nothing left to hope for except for pride and the Broncos' standing in the 2011 Draft. They are now 3-9 on the season and three games deep into last place in the West. Denver lost in Kansas City 10-6 by managing only 13 first downs and 247 yards of offense - 175 of which were provided by not as tough as Peyton Hills first-round bust emerging star/three-down back Knowshon Moreno. Kyle Orton turned in his worst performance ever of the year, managing an eye-poppingly bad 9-of-28 for 117 yards without a touchdown or interception. He did, however, have a fourth-quarter fumble and took four big sacks for a whopping 31 yards lost (although the last one was questionable). Denver was again atrocious on third downs, going 3 of 12 as they possessed the ball for a measly 22 minutes and 46 seconds. There'd be more irritation and sarcasm here, but fortunately I didn't see the game...

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Axe to grind Lard 12-5-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I hope you're enjoying your weekend so far. If you are, perhaps you should skip past the DP links today. This is not about positivity versus negativity - all three of TJ, Doc and myself can each make a case that McDaniels should move on. We just don't think those cases are strong enough at this point to warrant his firing. But someone over at the DP most definitely wants Josh McDaniels canned - all you need is to glance at the headlines, quite frankly. So, continue on - at your own peril. If you'd rather not, just skip ahead to Andrew Mason's entry. 

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Going Deep Lard 12-4-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! All four players who were on the injury report this week are out tomorrow - Brian Dawkins, Darcel McBath, Andre' Goodman and Demaryius Thomas.

To everyone who still thinks winning football games is about running the ball and controlling the clock, Brian Burke has  some more evidence to the contrary. For all those who are still upset about the Broncos' having spent several high picks on their (passing) offense over the past two years, it's a must read...

Teams should invest in draft picks and free-agents who can consistently get large chunks of yards, and invest in the practice time needed to perfect deep routes. And if you already are one of those teams who can throw deep, you should probably do it more often.

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The Daily Lard 12-3-10

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Darcel McBath returned to practice yesterday, albeit in limited fashion. Andre' Goodman, Demaryius Thomas and Brian Dawkins did not practice and are out for Sunday's game in KC.

Later today, the finale of Doc's series on the spread - including the answer to just who Coach Joe is...

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The Daily Lard 12-2-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Brian Dawkins, Darcel McBath, Demaryius Thomas and Andre' Goodman did not practice yesterday; all are expected to miss the trip to KC. As mentioned last night, we've now all got a glimpse at what Kenny McKinley was facing prior to his suicide - mounting gambling debts, child support and the fear that his NFL career was over. Plus, we learned that his death has likely taken a greater toll on his ex-teammates beyond the loss of a friend and teammate - especially so for Tom Brandstater and Jabar Gaffney. Our thoughts go out to those two men as well, today.

Later today, Part 2 of Doc's series on the Elways and the spread offense, and The Dude's Mail Revue.

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Not so many comebacks Lard 12-1-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Like many of you, I grew up practically worshiping John Elway, and it always stings to read about the lies we've been told regarding his 4th-quarter comeback wins. Really, he's not actually the Comeback King. But as someone who loves stats, facts and the debunking of myths, narratives and internet memes, I've just got to accept the disappointing realities along with the uplifting ones. Not sure if you're ready to do the same, but here's an excellent read from Scott Kacsmar over at the PFR Blog regarding Elway's comebacks. The silver lining is that it shows that Elway was much better than Brett Favre in the fourth quarter, and very similar to Dan Marino. Well, except for the fact that he's got more rings than the two of them combined...

Among the links you'll find sense and reason from Mike Lombardi and myth busting from Ted Bartlett. And later today, the first of Doc's excellent series linking the Elways to Kyle Orton.

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