The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Broncos interested in Fox, Rivera Lard 1-8-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Broncos have asked the Panthers' permission to speak with John Fox - although it was announced that Fox will not return to Carolina, his contract isn't up for a few weeks. Denver will be interviewing Jaguars OC Dirk Koetter and last night received permission to interview longtime Broncos player and coach Rick Dennison, who was Houston's OC in 2010 after fifteen seasons as a Broncos assistant. John Elway also said Chargers DC Ron Rivera is a candidate for the head job, while Brian Xanders added Gregg Williams to that list. Elway also stated that Jim Fassel's name had come up in discussions.

Continue reading "Broncos interested in Fox, Rivera Lard 1-8-11"

So much for that Lard 1-7-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! It was an eventful day for Denver yesterday, but it doesn't seem like anything that happened is actually good for the Broncos. Andrew Luck is staying at Stanford, which decreases the value of Denver's #2 overall pick. Jim Harbaugh is likely out of the picture after turning down the Dolphins and is now apparently the subject of a bidding war between Stanford and the Niners. Mark Mike Mularkey has told the Broncos to go scratch he's too busy to talk to them now, although he does have time to meet with the Browns. Gregg Williams says he hasn't yet heard from Denver, although they wouldn't be able to meet until the Saints' season ends, anyway. So the Broncos are going to meet with Perry Fewell and Eric Studesville on Sunday, and as of now that is it.

Well, maybe this wasn't so bad a chain of events. While it would be nice for the Broncos to have a new HC ASAP, perhaps it's best that John Elway's first coach hiring takes more than a week or two. After all, what's more important here - finding a new coach quickly, or finding the best man for the job? In his chat session yesterday, Andrew Mason surmised that Denver would wait to speak with Williams, as long as some other candidate didn't "knock their socks off."

Continue reading "So much for that Lard 1-7-11"

The Daily Lard 1-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Elway was introduced yesterday as the new EVP of Football Ops - in case you missed it, or the sound dropped out of it yesterday (like it did for me), watch the presser here - Part 1 and Part 2. In speaking for almost an hour, Elway covered what he's seeking in a new head coach (offensive or defensive background matters not), the future of Tim Tebow (he's still unproven) and Champ Bailey (his status is up in the air), the new power structure at Dove Valley (Elway will be the tiebreaker between Brian Xanders and the HC), why he wanted the job (he loves the Broncos, and he's competitive) and how he'll be performing it (in a very hands-on manner). Best thing Elway said? "I know what I don't know," although that was followed up by a puzzling "I will find out what I don't know as fast as I possibly can." Hopefully, John's self-awareness means the Broncos will be run sans hubris going forward.

As of now, Elway & Co. will interview Falcons OC Mark Mike Mularkey on Friday and Giants DC Perry Fewell and former Broncos interim coach Eric Studesville on Sunday. Elway said the Broncos are interested in speaking with Jim Harbaugh about the job, although it sounds like the Dolphins are making a big push for his services.

UPDATE 11:20AM ET - The Broncos have posted a full transcript of yesterday's presser - it probably took that long to compile it...

UPDATE 11:58AM ET - ESPN will broadcast their documentary "Tim Tebow: Everything in Between" tonight at 7PM ET and will re-air it at midnight ET on ESPN2.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 1-6-11"

The Duke returns Lard 1-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Elway is officially a member of the Denver Broncos again, having signed a contract last night that makes him the organization's Executive VP of Football Operations. Woody Paige was apparently given an exclusive interview with Elway last night after the contract was finalized. Elway said,

This is all I've really wanted to do since I retired as a player. Football has been my life. I've waited for years, but the timing is perfect. The stars are aligned.

Additionally, Elway stated that Brian Xanders will in fact "be responsible for most of the personnel decisions, the scouting, the draft," and that the search for a new head coach is expected to be completed within a week or two. Elway cited an odd-sounding "study" Xanders performed of previous NFL coaches to placate the folks calling for the hiring of a head coach with a background in defense. Elway said of Tim Tebow,

I was impressed with what he did in the last three games, considering how few reps and plays in games before that, but the questions now are can he translate that grit, the winning attitude, that athletic ability into maturing into a great quarterback on the pro level.

According to Paige, the Broncos will seek permission to interview Saints DC Gregg Williams and Giants DC (and former Bills interim coach) Perry Fewell in addition to Mike Mularkey and Eric Studesville, and that there will be more candidates added in the next day or two. Elway says he did not have an opportunity to speak with Jim Harbaugh about the coaching job at Monday night's Orange Bowl.

UPDATE 10:05AM ET - According to denverbroncos.com, Elway will be introduced at a 1:30PM MT press conference which the team's site will stream live. We'll have an open thread here on IAOFM for your commentary.

Continue reading "The Duke returns Lard 1-5-11"

Luck-y scenario Lard 1-4-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Lombardi says the Panthers are leaning away from drafting a quarterback first overall. Outright bluff? Posturing? Soliciting trade offers via the media? Perhaps that's what's going on. Either way, this of course will make for plenty of pre-draft drama for the next few months. Will they or won't they? Will last night's Orange Bowl MVP Andrew Luck even enter the draft? Should the Broncos move up to take Luck?

For my money, the ideal situation for the Broncos would be for Carolina to select someone else, and then Denver could auction off the #2 pick to the highest bidder, like the Dolts did twice when they had the chance to draft Michael Vick and then when they drafted Eli Manning and ended up with the better quarterback anyway. But this would require the Panthers to not only be in love with Jimmy Clausen, but also to want another player (Da'Quan Bowers?) badly enough to draft the guy first overall, eschewing what could be a lopsided haul for the chance to draft Luck. A guy can dream, right?

Continue reading "Luck-y scenario Lard 1-4-11"

Tebow microcosm? Lard 1-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday's loss to San Diego locked up the 2nd overall pick in April's draft for the Broncos. While a last-second victory on a Hail Mary yesterday would have been exciting, quite frankly it would have been disastrous for Denver in terms of the draft - the Broncos would have slipped all the way to 5th overall. Instead, Denver will have their pick of the defensive litter should Andrew Luck enter the draft and go first overall to Carolina (or another team in the event of a trade). With Miami's loss yesterday, it appears Denver will enter the draft with three choices among the top 47 - (2, 34, 47). Correction: Denver's top three picks are at 2, 36 and 46

Tim Tebow finished with 285 yards of net offense on 52 chances, bringing his QB rating (77.8), average per throw (8.0) and per offensive chance (7.1) down a bit. However, this wasn't a huge shock with the Dolts and their top-rated defense in town. Still, Tebow's average throw and chance over his three starts were each almost a full yard higher than Kyle Orton's, and his total offensive TD rate of 5.93% is exceptional - for perspective's sake, Tom Brady's rate was 6.8%, while Philip Rivers' was 4.9% and Orton's was 3.7%. Tebow's rate stats are quite similar to those of Michael Vick, who has averaged 8.1 yards per throw, 7.5 per offensive chance and an identical 5.93% offensive TD rate.

Continue reading "Tebow microcosm? Lard 1-3-11"

Season finale Lard 1-2-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Klis has apparently squeezed an extra day out of Brian Xanders PR Week™. Heck, why not? After all, the guy got his PhD in football from Dan Reeves. Xanders strangely talks about the Broncos' "history and heritage" of running the ball well. This is concerning - running a sports team is about looking forward rather than into the past. Winning in the NFL is about passing - passing to set up more passing, and running to keep defenses honest. We've been over this before, but it cannot be overstated - successful passing correlates to winning; successful running does not. Yet, Klis states that one of Xanders' missions for the Broncos is to balance out their pass/run ratio. Hopefully Xanders understands that a more even pass/run ratio should result from offense efficiency (by passing), rather than an expressed goal of running the ball more.

Now, I've certainly been critical of the blatant PR push for Xanders this week, but please don't confuse that with me calling Xanders incompetent. Surely I don't believe that Josh McDaniels was responsible for every smart decision during his tenure and Xanders for every poor one, nor do I believe the opposite. Like most things, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. But this week has felt like a snow job, and frankly it's insulting to the collective intelligence of all Broncos fans, even if some of them are buying it (you know where to find those folks). Yet, the way Xanders sounded on the radio on Monday and is now citing the Broncos' history as a reason to run the ball more aren't making me feel so great about the guy...

Continue reading "Season finale Lard 1-2-11"

Happy New Year! Lard 1-1-11

Good Morning, Dear Readers - and Happy 2011 to you and yours! Thank you so much for being here - without your remarkable support, TJ, Emmett and I would just be three guys emailing each other about the Broncos from our moms' basements (in our underwear, of course). Granted, some visitors may view us as doing precisely that, but it is your loyalty that has given us the confidence everyday to write about our favorite team, and hopefully to improve continually. Thank you for sharing your opinions, for challenging us, and for your suggestions. IAOFM is growing faster than we had ever envisioned, and that is undoubtedly a result of your endorsements.

We resolve in 2011 to bring you the finest and most thorough Broncos analysis and commentary around, and we resolve to do so while making you think, smile and laugh in the process. Sadly, our offseason arrives tomorrow evening (although in some senses it began the day Josh McDaniels was fired), and there will be plenty to ponder: a new head coach with new schemes, a new CBA (hopefully), and of course the 2011 NFL Draft. We have several exciting ideas to help enrich the IAOFM experience, and we look forward to sharing them with you. Again - thank you for your readership, and may the new year bring you great health, happiness and fortune.

Continue reading "Happy New Year! Lard 1-1-11"

If not Kubes → Fassel? Lard 12-31-10

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Mike Lombardi is hearing that if Gary Kubiak does not become available, then Denver's next choice for head coach may be former Broncos OC and Giants HC Jim Fassel thanks to his strong relationship with John Elway. Fassel had been an assistant coach at Stanford while Elway was there, and Fassel's 1993 arrival in Denver led the QB to a much higher level of efficiency, which Elway would carry through the rest of his career. Fassel is known as a quarterback guru, primarily for his work with Elway and for helping revitalize the career of Kerry Collins with the Giants - but most of his NFL career was spent coaching QBs who are towards the end of their primes, including Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason and Steve McNair. Still, if Tim Tebow is the future (and he sure looks the part), bringing in a head coach with plenty of experience working with QBs makes sense - especially one with the wisdom to hire John Fox as his first defensive coordinator.

Although Fassel led the Giants to SB XXXV (where they lost to Baltimore), his tenure in New Jersey was one of wild inconsistency; in seven seasons, Fassel's G-Men made three playoff appearances but also had three losing seasons and blew a 24-point third-quarter playoff lead in San Francisco in 2002. Most recently, Fassel has coached Las Vegas to two UFL titles.

Friends, have fun ringing in 2011 however you celebrate; be safe, and if you're drinking, please don't drive!

Continue reading "If not Kubes → Fassel? Lard 12-31-10"

Xanders PR Week Lard 12-30-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Apparently it's Brian Xanders PR Media Tour Week, or didn't you hear? First, Xanders goes on radio with Vic and Gary Monday and says he got his PhD in football from Dan Reeves, that he spends 90% of his time scouting, that he's more than a cap guy, and finally he issues a "no comment" on the Peyton Hillis trade. Next up, an article on MileHighSports.com that repeats those first few points verbatim and then completely disavows Xanders from the Hillis trade by stating that Josh McDaniels went rogue on that one. It's a very fluffy article, one that reads to me like a PR piece - spoon fed perhaps by the guy with 'marketing and media relations' in his job description - Joe Ellis.

It sure makes Xanders out to be a swell guy - he's hard-working, started at the very bottom, and has Charley Casserly (who has been media guy for over 4 years now and works for NFLN) and an anonymously-quoted agent vouching for him. The article not only disconnects Xanders from several of the most controversial moves the Broncos have made over the past two years, but it goes so far as to say that Xanders was either vehemently opposed, was left out of the process entirely, or had much better ideas that lost out (like drafting Clay Matthews Jr.). Heck, it even paints him as partly responsible for the Falcons' best decisions (hiring Tom Dimitroff and Mike Smith, signing Michael Turner and drafting Matt Ryan).

Continue reading "Xanders PR Week Lard 12-30-10"