The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Hack the halls Lard 12-24-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's like clockwork, folks. Another day, another player hits IR. Another sunrise, another glaring bit of journalistic bumbling from the DP. Yesterday, Mike Klis wrote that Kyle Orton is only owed $2.879 million in guarantees in 2011 based upon the one-year extension he signed with Denver in August. Yet, Klis originally reported the contract extension as providing Orton with $5.5 million in guarantees for 2011. The same info was given on the DP Blog at the time.

Also yesterday, Jeff Legwold wrote that "original reports" put Orton's guarantees as being worth $8.1 million between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He says that a review of NFLPA documents says that Orton is only due $2.879 million next year. No correction, no admission that the Denver Post was reporting incorrect information from their ironclad sources. Sure - this is of a much smaller magnitude, but it's otherwise the same as agent mouthpieces Jason La Canfora reporting the signing bonus attached to Donovan McNabb's contract as being worth $40 million. If we can't depend upon beat reporters to get simple facts like this straight, or own up to them when they've been hoodwinked by self-serving player agents, then exactly what service are they providing to us, their readers?

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The Daily Lard 12-23-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his column yesterday, TJ wrote that he thought perhaps Tim Tebow could thrive in a WCO ala Steve Young. Meanwhile, Mike Lombardi considered the Broncos' situation with Tebow and suggested that Denver actually needs to stick with an offensive-oriented HC to continue the young QB's development. His choice? Why, none other than Gary Kubiak - although Lombardi says the zone-blocking offense has become somewhat obsolete with its smaller linemen, he thinks it could be an ideal scheme for Tebow to operate within.

Knowshon Moreno and Matt Prater did not practice yesterday, while Brian Dawkins, Demaryius Thomas and Darcel McBath returned in limited fashion. As mentioned yesterday, Spencer Larsen was placed on IR and replaced on the active roster by Stanley Daniels. To fill Daniels' spot on the practice squad, Denver signed LB Dominic Douglas.

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Only Six Picks Lard 12-22-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! While you're finishing your shopping, I'm getting all worked up about stupid media narratives. The latest? That the Broncos only have six draft picks in 2011, because Joseph Stalin Josh McDaniels is a terrible person and an even worse handler of draft choices. Plus, he wasted all those picks on the guy that everyone now thinks is going to save humanity the franchise from what was a few days ago impending doom. Let's take a quick peek at the 2010 Draft, shall we? Denver entered the selection party with 7 choices, including one 1st-rounder, two 2nd-rounders, a third and so on. Thanks to Brian Xanders and McDaniels' deft movement down and up the draft board (really, it was brilliant - don't let anyone tell you otherwise), Denver ended up with two 1st-rounders, a 2nd-rounder and two 3rd-rounders without giving up any other choices.

So, the Broncos started out with four choices in the first three rounds, and they ended up with five choices. According to the draft chart that Jimmy Johnson pulled out of his ass everyone goes by, the Broncos went from 2,360 points down to 2,295 points, a slippage of 65 points (one mid-4th-rounder). Football Outsiders' draft chart, which uses real actual data to assign values to each pick, says the Broncos went from 6,565 points up to 7,560 points, a gain of 995 points (a high 3rd-rounder). Call me crazy, but ending up with two 1st-rounders and one 2nd-rounder is a heck of a lot better than the one 1st-rounder and two 2nd-rounders Denver had started out with. Oh, and and extra third-rounder to boot? Why yes, thank you much.

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More Tebow Lard 12-21-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Eric Studesville announced yesterday that Tim Tebow will start again on Sunday at home against Houston. Denver also claimed CB Chevis Jackson from New England; apparently there's still a hoarder of ex-Patriots in the Broncos' midst - he must be found and fired! LB Kevin Alexander was released by the team, not long after being arrested on charges of domestic violence - according to the team, pure coincidence.

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Best case scenario Lard? 12-20-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Why so happy? Yesterday went about as well as could be expected for the Broncos - Tim Tebow performed well enough to give hope that he is indeed the future, the Broncos' draft position was solidified into a likely top-3 pick, and the defense reminded us all of what the Broncos need with such a choice.

In terms of draft position, the combination of Denver's loss to Jokeland and victories by Carolina, Cincinnati, Detroit and Buffalo means that if the Broncos lose to both Houston and San Diego, they will gain either the first or second pick in April's draft. If Denver loses both games and Carolina were to win one of its last two games (unlikely), Denver would then gain the top spot overall. Then again, Atlanta would wrap up home field advantage in the NFC with a victory next week and would then not need to beat Carolina in Week 17. Should Denver go 1-1 and everyone else 0-2, the Broncos would pick 4th overall. if the Broncos were to win both games, suddenly a whole bunch of other teams enter the equation. Ideally? Denver ends up with the first overall pick, Andrew Luck declares, auction ensues, and the Broncos end up with a bounty of picks ala what the Dolts did when they gave up the right to trade Michael Vick in 2001 and  swapped Eli Manning for Philip Rivers in 2004. Then, it's defense, defense, defense...

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Tebow to Start Lard 12-19-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Adam Schefter and Mike Lombardi are reporting that Tim Tebow will start at QB today, while the local reporters are butt hurt still trying to say that he "may" start because they've been scooped. Obviously, this is an exciting day for Denver - we get to see what all the hoopla's been about, and interestingly, we'll start to find out what Josh McDaniels was thinking when he moved back into the first round to draft Tebow in April. If Tebow ends up a success in Denver, what will McDaniels' legacy be? Will he still be the guy who wanted fewer ran off interceptions Cutler, dropped passes Marshall and fumbles Hillis? Or will the next coach get all the credit for turning around the Broncos and developing Tebow? Who knows? Only one way to find out...

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Looking like Tebow time Lard 12-18-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Well, the Broncos haven't come out and said it yet, but it sure seems like Tim Tebow is about to get his first start. Kyle Orton's rib injury has been perfect cover for Tebow to get a full week of first-team reps under the guise that Orton would make it back in time to play. Personally, I think this was the way to go, rather than throwing the kid to the wolves in the middle of a game after having spent the week with the scout team and getting minimal reps working within Denver's playbook. Of course, we likely won't find out until later today or perhaps even tomorrow whether Tebow or Orton is starting. But Denver has managed to avoid the potential avalanche of attention that would have come with announcing it earlier in the week.

As for injuries, the Broncos have listed Brian Dawkins, Demaryius Thomas and Matt Prater as out. Yes, that means another week of Steven Hauschka. David Bruton, Darcel McBath and Orton are questionable, while five players are listed as probable.

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More chicken, more egg Lard 12-17-10

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Picking up where yesterday's thoughts left off, there's been a lot of worry among the fanbase  that the next head coach will be from an offensive-minded background like Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels were, and that the defense will thus be disregarded going forward. Sure, it is a legitimate concern that the next coach and GM pay proper attention to rebuilding the defense, as it was atrocious in 2008 and hasn't fared much better this year. But that doesn't mean the head coach has to have cut his own teeth on defense - he merely has to value that side of the ball and employ a worthy defensive coordinator (and let said DC do his job, of course). In the most meaningless informal of exercises,  I looked at the top half of the league (16 of 32 teams) in terms of points and yards allowed, and it's a mishmosh - in terms of points, seven HCs came from the offensive side, while nine came from the defensive side. Relative to yards allowed, it was eight from Column A, eight from Column B.

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Chicken or the egg? Lard 12-16-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday's story about Denver's potential interest in Mike Mularkey raised concerns about the future structure of the team's front office - the idea of hiring a coach before a GM caused some discomfort. But while the personnel problems of the past 10+ years in Denver can largely be blamed upon the team's lack of a quality GM to help select players, the role of the GM in the NFL is not typically what it is in other professional sports. There is no person more important within a football organization than the head coach, and this is the case even in the presence of a commanding GM like Bill Parcells, Bill Polian or Scott Pioli, although these three men happen to also be very good at selecting head coaches. This isn't baseball, where the GM and his decision making are much more crucial to winning than the manager and his calls are.

When it comes down to it, the head coach is responsible for the schemes, the playbook, the play calling, motivating and teaching the players - everything that happens on the field and in the locker room, including winning and losing. The personnel the GM selects has to match or fit the schemes of his head coach. As Pat Kirwan writes in the oft-quoted (here, anyway) Take Your Eye Off The Ball,

In an ideal situation, then, the general manager should support the head coach...he should have enough football experience that he can be a valuable contributor to the head coach's vision...He can't be seen as outranking the head coach, especially in the eyes of the team.

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The Daily Lard 12-15-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It looks like Demaryius Thomas will miss his fourth straight game Sunday. Meanwhile, the Broncos did not re-sign Stanley Daniels as was reported earlier by Mike Klis; rather, WR Britt Davis was promoted from the practice squad to replace the injured S Kyle McCarthy, who was place on IR.

Meanwhile, the news on Perrish Cox is getting worse before it gets better - his charges are Class 3 and Class 4 felonies, which involve knowingly assaulting a helpless victim. These charges carry a sentence ranging between two years and life in prison.

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