The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 1-21-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! As reported yesterday afternoon, the Broncos have received permission from the Saints to speak with their secondary coach Dennis Allen. Allen is expected in Denver to speak with the trainer team officials for parts of today and tomorrow, and he is then scheduled to interview with the Eagles for the remainder of the weekend. Saints head coach Sean Payton said of Allen,

"He's extremely talented, and another thing about him, he's an extremely hard-working guy...He has done a very good job. He's extremely well thought of within this building."

Apparently, "extremely" is to Sean Payton what "outstanding" is to Jon Gruden...

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Hack job Thursday Lard 1-20-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Klis suggests that Jim Mora's decision not to coach next season was financially motivated, as he is entering the last year of his contract from his HC gig in Seattle. Not sure what the logic behind Klis' thinking is, since Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels are still getting paid quite a bit to not coach the Broncos. But perhaps there's some unique stipulation in Mora's contract. Either way, he's not going to be the Broncos' DC, and it seems just as well - was anyone actually excited by the prospect of his hire? For now, the remaining candidates are apparently Packers DL coach Mike Trgovac and incumbent DC Wink Martindale - it should be noted that Green Bay is not compelled to allow Denver permission to speak with Trgovac once their season has ended. Perhaps some new names will pop up over the next week or two.

Plenty of hackery today - so much that I had to include it in the title. Thankfully, TJ will be around with some Mail Revue to make our brains hurt less...

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No Mora deal yet Lard 1-19-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jim Mora apparently left Denver without a job offer last night, although LJ says Mora is still John Fox's top choice for the vacant defensive coordinator position at this point. To correct my own assertion from two mornings ago (and LJ's in the linked article), Packers DL coach Mike Trgovac will only be available once Green Bay's season is over. Assistant coaches on current playoff teams may only interview for head coaching positions - not for any other job (p. 8), promotion or not. I'm sorry for any confusion I may have caused you.

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Mora expected Lard 1-18-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to LJ, the Broncos are close to hiring Jim Mora as their new defensive coordinator after Sean McDermott took the same job in Carolina. Mora spent the 2010 season as an analyst for NFL Network after working the 25 previous years as an NFL coach, including stints as the head coach of Atlanta (2004-06) and Seattle (2009). Mora has spent much of his career working with his teams' defensive backs, including 3 years as a defensive assistant, 12 years as a secondary coach, and 5 seasons as a defensive coordinator (49ers, 1999-2003).

In his time as a DC or HC, Mora's defenses have had mixed results, ranking on average 20th in points allowed and 20th in yardage, ranking as high as 9th in points and 13th in yards. Considering his background as a DB coach, it may be surprising to find that Mora's defenses have done better at defending the run (13th in yardage, on average) than the pass (24th in yardage, on avg).

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The Daily Lard 1-17-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! There are a bunch of developments in regards to the Denver coaching staff - as expected, John Fox is bringing WR coach Tyke Tolbert and OL coach Dave Magazu with him from Carolina. Meanwhile, Adam Gase is expected to move from coaching the WRs to tutoring the QBs - Gase coached the Lions' QBs in 2007, when Mike Martz was running Detroit's offense. Fox may also bring in Mike Gillhamer, his secondary coach with the Panthers - Ed Donatell has left to join Jim Harbaugh's staff with the Niners. Former interim coach Eric Studesville will be back as the team's RB coach, and there is some doubt now as to whether Fox's assistant head coach in Carolina, Jim Skipper, will be joining the Denver crew. DL coach Wayne Nunnely is under consideration to remain with the team, but is also pondering a move to Carolina with his old boss in San Diego, Ron Rivera.

No new developments on the Sean McDermott front; he and Jim Mora are reportedly both being considered to coordinate the Broncos' defense; Mora is also a candidate for McDermott's old position in Philly, while the Panters are also interested in McDermott.

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Continuity Lard 1-16-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As reported yesterday, Mike McCoy is expected to return as Denver's offensive coordinator next season. According to Jason La Canfora, the Broncos and McCoy were still working out the details on a new contract which will keep McCoy around for his third season in Denver and beyond. Clearly, this makes all the sense in the world for the Broncos and John Fox, who employed McCoy for seven seasons in Carolina. Although the Broncos' offense will undoubtedly change some as McCoy applies his own philosophies in developing a playbook, the continuity for Denver's young QB Tim Tebow is priceless. Nothing would be worse for the Broncos' future than throwing Tebow into a new system in his second season.

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Staff growth Lard 1-15-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Fox was formally introduced yesterday as Denver's head coach. Fox covered plenty of (shallow) ground during his presser, and he was unsurprisingly noncommittal on the futures of Champ Bailey and Tim Tebow and whether his Broncos would favor a 30- or 40-front on defense. He said zone-blocking "will definitely be a part of our offense," but like Josh McDaniels stressed before him, all teams use a blend of zone- and angle/power blocking in their offensive schemes. As Ted had written on Thursday, Fox said he likes to be involved in all facets of the game as a manager-type but will not call plays on defense; he leaves the playcalling on both sides to his coordinators.

During his presser, Fox said he will "most definitely" retain some of the Broncos' incumbent assistants, but as of now there's no word on who is staying. Fox said that OC Mike McCoy, who spent seven seasons working for Fox in Carolina, "is definitely in consideration," but that both McCoy and the Broncos "have options." McCoy is reportedly also in contention for the Browns' and Chiefs vacant coordinator positions, but there's no word on whom else the Broncos are pondering for OC. Legwold says Fox is pursuing Jim Mora to be his DC, while WR coach Adam Gase may switch over to working with the QBs - which of course signals an exit for Ben McDaniels. Plus, Eric Studesville will be back as the RB coach according to Legwold.

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Fox takes over; case for McCoy Lard 1-14-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Fox will be introduced as Denver's 14th head coach today at 2PM ET at Dove Valley, just two days after his interview with the team trainer Broncos' executive committee. Fox will turn 56 in a few weeks and carries with him a 73-71 record over nine years as Carolina's head coach, along with a reputation for tough, physical teams that thrive at running the ball on offense and keeping opponents out of the end zone. Fox has worked in the NFL as defensive backs coach with Pittsburgh and San Diego, defensive coordinator for the Raiders and Giants, and head coach of the Panthers.

Over his 21 years in those capacities, Fox's pass defenses have ranked on average 10th-best in the NFL in passing TDs allowed, leading the league three times, and ranking 8th or better ten times. His pass defenses have ranked in the league's ten best in interceptions 11 times in 21 years. In Fox's 16 seasons as a DC or HC, his defenses have ranked on average 12th in both points and yards allowed, including nine top-10 rankings in scoring defense and seven top-10 yardage rankings. In those same years, Fox's defenses have ranked on average 15th in rushing scores allowed and 13th in rushing yardage. In 8 out of 16 seasons, Fox's defenses have ranked among the league's top 12 in takeaways.

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How sly is this Fox? Lard 1-13-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As many of you noticed, I wasn't too easy on John Fox yesterday, and I'll admit that my perception of Fox has been shaped by just a single decision of his. As a New Yorker, I watched his defenses with the Giants thrive for several years, and frankly I was a fan of Fox the DC. Where I lost a bit of respect for Fox was during his Panthers' SB loss to the Patriots; his team fell behind 21-10 at the very beginning of the fourth quarter, and just two minutes later his team scored a TD to close the score to 21-16. With nearly 13 minutes left in the game, Fox decided to go for two, and I yelled at the TV, "No, what is he thinking?!?!" There was too much time left in the game, and anything could happen from there on out. Unfortunately for Fox & Co, it did - Carolina scored another TD less than six minutes later, again went for two and failed - Panthers 22, Pats 21. NE scored next, went for two and converted to go up 29-22, and then the Panthers scored a tying TD with just over a minute to go. This set the stage for the first Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri Show, and the latter's FG ended the game.

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Is this all?! Lard 1-12-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Denver coaching search is becoming more puzzling and worrisome by the day. Only last week, John Elway said "Preferably we’d like to have some head coaching background in the NFL, but it’s not a must." So far, this has translated into two guys with 11 games of head-coaching experience between them (Perry Fewell, Eric Studesville) and two guys who've never been NFL head coaches (Rick Dennison, Mr. Dirk Koetter) interviewing, while two former real, actual head coaches decided not to interview (Mark Mike Mularkey, Gregg Williams). The other former head coach scheduled to interview (John Fox) has made two failed attempts to fly out of North Carolina due to a snowstorm. Yet somehow, his replacement in Carolina (Ron Rivera) was able to fly to Charlotte to accept his new gig. Maybe they're just hoarding airplanes in NC by allowing landings and no takeoffs?

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