The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

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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Cox arrested Lard 12-11-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans. More bad news from Denver, as Perrish Cox landed himself in jail and has been charged with felony sexual assault. The alleged assault occurred on October 28, the day the Broncos left for London; Cox was left behind while recovering from a concussion. Cox missed practice yesterday and his status for tomorrow's game in Arizona is unknown; he is listed as questionable on the injury report.

As announced earlier in the week, Brian Dawkins, Spencer Larsen and Demaryius Thomas are out for tomorrow's game. Andre' Goodman, Darcel McBath and Matt Prater are listed as questionable along with Cox. Meanwhile, the Cardinals finally announced that rookie John Skelton would make the start tomorrow at QB.

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The Daily Lard 12-10-10

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Matt Prater joined Andre' Goodman and Darcel McBath on the list of limited participants, due to a groin injury. Russ Hochstein and Jamal Williams returned to practice after missing Wednesday's for non-injury reasons. I'm sorry the Lard has been so sporadic in terms of timing this week; I was out of town until last night. Great time to get out of dodge, right? All will be back to normal come Monday. As always, thanks for being here and helping us make IAOFM a joy to produce. We appreciate your readership, and for "Liking" us and our posts on Facebook - every click gets the word out!

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Shiny Happy Players Lard 12-9-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans. Brian Dawkins, Demaryius Thomas and Spencer Larsen have already been declared out for Sunday's game. Andre' Goodman and Darcel McBath were limited participants in yesterday's practice, the first run by new interim coach Eric Studesville. Apparently Studesville is more of a motivator type than Josh McDaniels, and he extended an olive branch to the players yesterday by having them practice without pads.

Has anyone noticed that of Denver's 9 losses, 8 of them have come at the hands of teams that currently have 6 wins or more? On Sunday, the Broncos will face the worst team they've played all year in the Cardinals, and a fifth-round rookie QB in John Skelton. So if Denver wins, surely it will be because Studesville took the pads off, because he smiles more than McDaniels, and happier players are better players?  Sounds like a neat little DP narrative...

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The Daily Lard 12-8-10

Good Morning, Broncos fans. Two fine writers shared their thoughts on the McDaniels firing:

Not sure if Mike Lombardi is interested in getting back into the player evaluation business, but he wrote another column yesterday that just shows he "gets it" more than anyone else in the national media (is that a backhanded compliment?). I could point to about eight different paragraphs, but this one stands out...

In any sport, losing is extremely difficult -- it's hard on the mind, body and spirit. It challenges every prior belief an organization holds true, forcing constant evaluations of the path, the direction and the journey chosen for the organization. It is human nature to second-guess every move on a losing path. Few, in most sports, are willing to brave the losing, the criticism of the media, or the wrath of their fans. Believing in principles and having the courage to stand alone is a rarer quality than bravery in battle or superior intelligence. Yet it is the one essential for teams that desire to win Super Bowls.

Ted Bartlett examines the role of the Denver Post in Josh McDaniels' firing and says the future doesn't look so bright for us anymore...

The Denver Broncos entered into a full-scale reconstruction of the franchise in January, 2009.  Literally everything changed, much of it for the better.  The Broncos built a systematic approach to scouting, for the first time in memory.  They rid themselves of me-first players, and actively sought out team-first guys.  They ignored conventional wisdom, which over a long enough timeline, is always a good thing to do.  But they didn’t communicate that they were rebuilding, or ask for patience, or probably even admit to themselves what the situation really was...There are no shortcuts to setting yourself up to be good even on a mediocre day.  It’s a long process, and it never stops.  The Patriots continue to set the standard in that way.

Okay, enough with all that reason and clear thinking. Let's get to the silliness...

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