The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

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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Field Narrowed? Lard 1-11-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As mentioned yesterday, Gregg Williams will indeed interview for the Broncos' coaching vacancy on Wednesday. According to Klis, this may round out the group from which Denver will select its next head man - Perry Fewell, Eric Studesville, Rick Dennison, Mr. Dirk Koetter, John Fox and Gregg Williams. Klis does go on to say that Denver may add another coach or two to the list after the weekend; obviously it'll be interesting to see if Mark Mike Mularkey gets an interview after saying "Thanks...actually, no thanks" to the first invite, should the Falcons get knocked out. It appears Ron Rivera has the gig in Carolina, so he's likely out of consideration.

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The Real Head Coaches of Denverâ„¢ Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know all that talk about the Broncos' ironclad secrecy under Josh McDaniels? The Belichick-like tightening of the lines of communication? If the past few days are any indication, the Broncos under John Elway will be overcompensating like a teenage girl who just discovered eyeliner. In a rather bizarre (and frankly unnerving) twist, the team posted a video of Perry Fewell (who speaks very well) riding to his interview from DIA, and then a mid-interview picture of Fewell and a pre-interview shot of Eric Studesville.

Transparency is great and all, as is the unprecedented access that Elway has provided with his new Twitter account. But while an NFL head-coaching gig is a very public job, and it's desirable of any candidate to be comfortable in the spotlight, there's just something uncomfortably voyeuristic about this new approach. What's next? Is Elway going to tell Peter King that Fewell had bad breath or that Studesville was mixing tenses?

Makes one again wonder why Mark Mike Mularkey snubbed the Broncos on their interview request, no? If you were a seasoned coaching candidate (ie. not a young hotshot), and a team said, "Come interview with us. One condition though - the second you get off the plane, the cameras will be rolling and you'll be on Bravo later that night," what would you say? It'll be interesting to see if John Fox gets the same treatment today...

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Damage control Lard 1-9-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It seems John Elway has learned his first tough lesson in running an NFL team - be careful what you say to Peter King. Yesterday on NBC, King related a conversation he had with Elway in which the new football exec says he "(doesn't) think Tim Tebow is a good NFL quarterback at this time." King went on to say that if Josh McDaniels lands a job with a team in need of a QB, he could see the former Broncos coach pushing to acquire Tebow. Shortly afterward, Elway scrambled to clarify his remarks via Twitter, saying that Tebow could "turn (himself) into a great QB," that Elway and the organization "think very highly of him," and that any trade speculation is "completely false."

Meanwhile, the Broncos have received permission to interview John Fox and are expected to do so sometime this week. Plus, Gregg Williams is suddenly available to interview after his defense got torched yesterday by the 7-9 Seahawks.

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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.

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