The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

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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Not time for Tim Lard 12-14-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans. Eric Studesville announced yesterday that Kyle Orton will start Sunday in Jokeland, which of course means that Tim Tebow is not starting. However, the coach did say that Tebow is “an NFL quarterback, and he’s here, and he was drafted to come here and play quarterback, so he’s going to be ready to play in a game.” Sort of a strange way to put it. Wouldn't you prefer to hear, "He's worked hard, he's got a good grasp of the offense, and he's ahead of where we thought he'd be at this juncture"? The reasons Studesville cites are sort of what the fans and media are thinking - "He has to be ready, right? Did we spend a first-rounder for him not to be ready now?" Well, no he doesn't actually have to be ready, despite our best wishes to that effect, and perhaps Josh McDaniels did draft him with the expectation it'd take at least a full season to prepare him for the starter's role. Personally, I do hope he's ready, and I want to see him play. But hope and reality are usually two different things...

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Hit bottom yet? Lard 12-13-10

Hmm. Good Morning, Broncos fans. If you're reading this, at least you have a pulse - which is more than we can say about our favorite football team. In case you wanted to know what could be worse than giving up 59 points at home to Jokeland, perhaps yesterday answered that question. Denver gave up 43 points to the Cardinals, who started a rookie fifth-round draft choice out of Fordham University at QB. Even worse, 25 of those points came off the legs of Jay Feely, who kicked five field goals and ran for a humiliating TD on a fake FG. But wait! Still it gets lower - the Broncos turned it over a whopping six times, were 3 of 15 on third downs, and allowed 211 rushing yards to an Arizona squad which had totaled 219 rushing yards in its previous three games. Denver is now in the thralls of its second four-game losing streak of the year, and over that span they have gone 8 for 48 on third downs, or 16.7% by higher math. By comparison, the Cards had entered the week at 26% on third downs, worst in the NFL. Last time the Broncos turned it over six times? October 3, 1999 when the two-time defending champs lost Terrell Davis to the knee injury that eventually cut his career short.

Kyle Orton posted an atrocious QB rating of 27.1 to follow up his 46.3 rating of a week earlier, to go along with three interceptions. Orton had thrown but six INTs in the season's first 12 games; he's looking worse by the week, and yesterday even garbage time didn't really serve to pump up his numbers. Naturally, the calls for Denver to start Tim Tebow are gathering momentum - perhaps Woody Paige will call a meeting with his newest minion Eric Studesville and decree that Tebow shalt start next week. Hopefully Studesville values self preservation and took in the lesson Josh McDaniels learned when he disobeyed Paige's order to lose the hoodie.

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3-9 battle Lard 12-12-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know those awful matchups of teams like Jokeland and the Chefs of recent years, or Lions and the Niners? That's our team today, folks. Broncos versus Cardinals, a tilt between 3-9 teams for draft position in April. Denver was last 3-9 in 1990, on their way to a 6-10 record and the 4th pick overall in the 1991 Draft. Unfortunately, that draft produced very little for Denver - while #4 pick LB Mike Croel won the award for best rookie defender, it went all downhill from there for him. Only third-rounder Keith Traylor ended up with a solid career, and only Traylor was in Denver long enough to win a ring - he was a starter for both SB-winning teams, although he did take a three-year hiatus in Green Bay and Kansas City in between Denver stops.

Point is, while the Broncos will end up with a higher draft choice with a loss today, that doesn't mean the organization will know what to do with it. I know, it's been a rough week and the last thing you need is another wet towel, but that's what I do sometimes...

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