The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Football-less Sunday Lard 2-13-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Here we are, the first Sunday without football since August - what a bummer, right? Well, the Daily Lard will still be around every morning to satisfy at least a bit of your pigskin hunger, if a bit late today. As always, thanks for being here - we appreciate your support. Of course, TJ, Em, Ted and I have plenty of exciting ideas for the offseason. There's no shortage of things NFL and Broncos to analyze, from the CBA to the draft to the new coaching staff and schemes. But please let us know in the comments if there's anything you'd like specifically to see from us. Have a great Sunday!

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Going (without) Greek Lard 2-12-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Unfortunately, the specter of a lockout has some potential ramifications for the Broncos in light of the rehabilitations facing WRs Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas. Royal had surgery on an injured hip (presumably a torn labrum) while Thomas will have his Achilles' tendon repaired in the coming days. But where it gets tricky is that in the event of a lockout, team trainer (when he's not busy interviewing head coaching candidates) Steve Antonopulos cannot have direct contact with any of the Broncos' players, and the players cannot be at Dove Valley for rehab. Greek will be able to be in touch with the players' doctors, but the motivation will have to come from the players and their private trainers. Fortunately we're talking about two guys with fine reputations in terms of their work ethics, but we'll see how that turns out come training camp...

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Achilles’ Lard 2-11-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Unfortunately, yesterday brought news of another serious injury to Denver's WR corps. Only a week on the heels (cough) of Eddie Royal's hip surgery,  Demaryius Thomas apparently tore his Achilles' tendon - according to the Broncos he's not expected to be ready for action for 6-8 months. Now, with the understanding that every injury is unique in terms of its severity, and all athletes have their own recovery rates, as a Marquette hoops fan (my wife's alma mater) I can share one positive Achilles'-related story. Golden Eagles point guard Junior Cadougan ruptured his Achilles' as a freshman in September '09 and was expected to miss the entire season. But through hard work in rehab, Cadougan remarkably returned to action only four months later. Fortunately for Thomas and the Broncos, it's only February - so Demaryius doesn't need to make quite as fast a recovery to help the Broncos in 2011.

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The Daily Lard 2-10-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Brian Burke has kicked off the offseason by presenting a bunch of fascinating ideas on how the NFL game could be tweaked, including lessening the impact of field goals, eliminating the extra point, altering the replay challenge rules, and weight limits. My favorite among the realistic options is awarding the ball in OT to the home team first, because it would change the strategy at the end of regulation and therefore likely result in fewer overtime games, which would be a good thing. Anything that promotes aggressive strategery is a good thing in my book. What do you think? Which are your favorite ideas?

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The Daily Lard 2-9-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Elway told Legwold last week that in interviewing John Fox he talked to the coach about the offensive philosophy Elway envisioned for the Broncos going forward. Said Elway, "It really doesn't come down to the system, but rather the attitude on offense. That's what we're talking about, the aggressive type offense, what we want to do on offense to win football games, not to just sit back and try to win them on defense."

Perhaps Elway realized how silly he had sounded when he talked of winning Super Bowls with an "adequate offense," or he's just continuing to mix the message. Now of course, this is all talk, and it will be many months before we see what the Broncos' strategy will be on offense. Surely, he'll say something totally different on Friday and we can parse more of his wording then...

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The Daily Lard 2-8-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Wow, can you imagine being one of those folks who got kicked out of their seats on Sunday? Sure, the NFL is stepping up a bit and trying to make up for it...but that's only really nice if you're not a Packers or Steelers fan, right? Surely at least some of those people were taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip to see their favorite team play in the Super Bowl and had laid out a ton of cash to do so. How pissed off would you be?

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So much for balance Lard 2-7-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Couple interesting notes from last night's game - there was but one Super Bowl record broken, yet it was quite a meaningful one: the 36 combined rushing attempts by the Packers and Steelers set a new low. But winning in the NFL is all about balance and running the ball well, right? There's no question that the Packers had a great defense in 2010, and they're just one team; but they won the Super Bowl so let's examine a few things:

  • The Packers ranked 20th in the NFL in rushing attempts
  • They ranked 24th in rushing yardage
  • They were tied for 18th in the league in rushing TDs
  • With 3.8 YPA, Green Bay ranked 25th in the NFL

Denver's ranks in those same categories? 27th, 26th, 12th (tied) and 23rd (tied), respectively. So, you that John Fox is in town and Brain Xanders is talking of running the ball a lot more, the Broncos will be back playing for titles, right?

The other point of note? Why didn't Green Bay go for it on fourth down at the end of the game up 3 points? I have no idea, but they should have...

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Shannon Sharpe, Hall of Famer Lard 2-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's a beautiful day for the predominantly orange and blue, as Shannon Sharpe is now a Hall of Famer. Has a fantastic ring to it, no? Big Play Shay was one of seven men elected to the HOF last night and will be enshrined in Canton on Saturday, August 6. Tickets are available here and range from $35 to $70.

Shannon was on NFL Network following the announcement, and this is an absolute must watch (go to 1h15m). It's quite an emotional segment, as Shannon spoke about his 88-year-old grandmother who raised him and took a phone call from his big brother Sterling. There's even a bonus appearance by Daily Lard "favorite" Jeff Legwold, who is bizarrely listed as still being with the RMN. Of course, it was Legwold who was tasked with presenting the case for Sharpe's election yesterday, and obviously he did Shannon right. While it took three attempts, we do have to tip our hats (or at least I do) to Legwold for doing his part to help get deserving Broncos into the HOF in consecutive years (Floyd Little last year).

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Shay Shay’s day? Lard 2-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Here we are - it's election day for the Pro Football HOF, and therefore time for Broncos fans everywhere to get that nauseous feeling in anticipation of Shannon Sharpe getting snubbed yet again. As we get further away from his career, it's bizarre how the conversation changes. Throughout his career, he was rightfully considered the best TE in football and a player who changed the game. Every time his name came up, it was as a surefire HOFer, and his eight Pro Bowl and four All Pro selections can never be taken away from him. But today, the dialogue is about Shannon's blocking skills, whether he was a true TE or should be viewed as a WR, and therefore compared statistically with actual wide receivers.

It's mind blowing, truly. Shannon Sharpe was a dominant player by any measure, remarkably clutch and for much of his career the NFL's only TE who demanded a large portion of the opposition's defensive game plan. Even the teams that knew just how much havoc he wrought could do nothing to stop him (hello, Kansas City and San Diego). Early in his career, Sharpe was the Broncos' only receiving threat worthy of any attention, but he still came through whenever John Elway & Co. needed to convert a crucial third down. For many years, everyone in the building (and watching at home) knew Shay Shay was the guy on third-and-medium or third-and-long, and yet he still got open and made the play - every time, it seemed.

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More Elway Lard 2-4-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! John Elway spoke with Mike Florio on PFT Live and stepped back a bit from his earlier statement that Kyle Orton is the starting QB, instead framing the situation as a competition. Most interestingly, he clearly came down on the players' side of the debate over expanding the regular season, saying "I can't imagine playing 18 games," despite acknowledging that the extra games would be a positive for management and fans.

In another of his media appearances, Elway said he was shocked that Shannon Sharpe was not elected to the HOF in either of the past two years and that Sharpe "has been underestimated in the running game" in terms of his blocking ability.

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