The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Raiders facing another overhaul Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! This week continues to be all about coach firings and interviews.

Andy Reid met yesterday with Clark Hunt (and yes, Scott Pioli) for almost nine hours - prompting speculation that Reid is atop KC's wish list - and he will interview with Arizona either today or tomorrow.

As for who will replace Reid in Philly, Eagles brass will interview both DC Mike Nolan and special teams coach Keith Armstrong of the Falcons in Atlanta. Jeffrey Lurie & Co. are also said to be interested in Bill O'Brien, but hiring him away from PSU could require a prohibitive $18.4M payment to break his contract at Happy Valley.

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Eagles to interview McCoy Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The coaching and GM carousel is awhirl, with news and rumors flying every which way.

And as tends to happen in these situations - much like the start of free agency each year - information is rushed, out of a desire to be the first to break a story, prompting rival reporters to question journalistic standards and the quality of others' sources. What we get are catfights between folks like Mike Florio and Jason La Canfora, who cannot agree on when Andy Reid will take his interview with the Cardinals.

La Canfora reported that Reid would meet with Arizona today, while NFLN's Ian Rapoport said the interview would occur tomorrow. That's when Florio jumped in, backing Rapoport's report while also accusing La Canfora of operating as a mouthpiece for Bob LaMonte, the agent for Reid.

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Lovie’s firing leaves attractive job, candidate in its wake Lard

Happy New Year, Broncos fans! So far, seven coaches (Andy Reid, Lovie Smith, Norv Turner, Ken Whisenhunt, Chan Gailey, Pat Shurmur, and Romeo Crennel) have been canned, with potentially more to come (Mike Mularkey, Ron Rivera).

Of the moves that have already occurred, none is more surprising than the firing of Lovie Smith, after he led the Bears to a 10-6 record and within a Sunday Packers win of making the playoffs.

Mike Ditka called the move "ridiculous," Devin Hester was moved to thoughts of retirement, and several other players expressed their shock. The other side of the story is that Lovie couldn't get his team to win big games, and the offense again sputtered down the stretch.

As per usual, Lovie's team sported an elite defense, which led the league in takeaways, was third in points, fifth in yards, and tops in overall efficiency prior to Sunday (Burke's final data isn't out yet).

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Broncos, Manning atop AFC Lard

GOOD MORNING, Broncos fans! For the sixth time in their history ('77, '87, '89, '96, '98), YOUR Denver Broncos have attained the AFC's top seed, and for the tenth time ('78, '84, '86, '87, '89, '91, '96, '98, '05), they will have a week off* before entering the playoff fray.

Denver (13-3) will host one of Baltimore, Indianapolis, or Cincinnati on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 4:30pm ET, with tickets available today at noon MST for neighbors of the Rockies.

They achieved this lofty status with a good deal of help from Peyton Manning's old team, and by summarily dispatching with this year's NFL doormats in a 38-3 (GamebookANS box score) shellacking of the Chiefs (2-14).

After stumbling to the NFL's eighth worst points differential (-81) in 2011, these Broncos have pummeled their opponents to the tune of a plus-192 margin, which is the fourth largest turnaround in NFL history.

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We’ve come a long, long way Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Hard to believe it, but the end of the regular season is already here today.

We've all understandably had our eyes to the future - on playoff seeds and scenarios, and dreams of a Broncos trip to New Orleans. And incredibly, after years of mediocrity or worse, last week brought a 34-12 home blowout that was, for all intents and purposes, boring.

It's amazing how drastically things have changed in the nine months since Peyton Manning showed up, and the two-and-a-half months since the team trailed 24-0 at halftime in San Diego. We're already taking blowouts for granted, after having endured, almost exactly a year ago, an excruciating 7-3 home loss to Kansas City in a win-and-they're-in scenario.

364 days later, the Broncos again will host the Chiefs to close out the regular season, and once again, the game has significant playoff implications.

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McCoy, JDR reportedly prepping for bye-week job interviews Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! While the Broncos and other teams are prepping for the postseason, with an eye tomorrow toward playoff seeding, many other franchises are ready to dump their coaches, perhaps as early as Monday.

It's apparently known around the NFL as Black Monday, but someone probably needs to come up with a more accurate moniker, given the difficulty black coaches still have in finding opportunities as head coaches, and even rarer, offensive play callers. Perhaps Not-Black Monday would be more appropriate.

As for the field of candidates and job openings, each got at least one smaller last night, as Sean Payton agreed to a new five-year deal with the Saints. Not only does that settle the situation in New Orleans, but it also makes Payton unavailable to Jerrah Jones and the Cowboys, further ensuring Jason Garrett's job security in Dallas.

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Must have been the LOLJets’ cook Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! So, turns out that the UT™ didn't actually demand out of the LOLJets Wildcat package, thus preserving his reputation as someone who would never tell a lie. Neat little trick by the Tebow camp:

One last word on what was effectively a Tim Tebow mutiny. A source close to the situation explained that Tebow didn't say directly to coach Rex Ryan that he would no longer play in the wildcat after learning he was being passed over for Greg McElroy. But this fact was definitely conveyed to the Jets from a member of the Tebow camp -- with Tebow's knowledge -- to the Jets.

Tebow is a good human being. There's no question about that, but there's also no question this was blatant insubordination. It doesn't matter if Tebow later came to his senses and told Ryan he would do whatever the team needed. It was too late.

If almost any other player had pulled a stunt like this, they'd be pilloried by fans. The same should happen to Tebow.

Yeah, we know - Timmy played hard for the Broncos in 2011. Big whoop. Does that mean the other 52 guys on the roster didn't?

Why was it okay to call all summer long for D.J. Williams's head while excusing everything from the UT™? Did D.J. - who was the team's leading tackler and third-leading sack man - not play hard last year too? Can anyone really be sure the Broncos would have made the playoffs without D.J.?

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Von Miller is here to stay Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday afternoon, we discussed the Denver futures of Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas, and Ryan Clady.

Let's consider a few more points about Miller's situation, because it's not a simple matter of prioritizing one player over the others.

To be sure, Miller is the best player of that trio, and perhaps to a greater degree, most important to the Broncos in the long term. Therefore, he's undoubtedly the one guy we'd all choose for Denver to lock up with a lengthy, lucrative deal - more than any other player on the roster.

But chronologically, it's rather unlikely to play out that way. Check out this provision of the current CBA:

A Rookie Contract for a Drafted Rookie may not be renegotiated, amended or altered in any way until after the final regular season game of the player’s third contract year.

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Prater providing little/no advantage on kickoffs Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Prior to Sunday's game, we checked on Matt Prater's statistics from this season, and what we found wasn't pretty.

Prater's not only been struggling with inaccuracy on field goals, but is allowing teams better starting position following kickoffs than teammates are, at least in the mile high confines of SAF@MH. You know - where Prater is supposed to be blasting touchbacks on every try. Sunday's visit from Josh Cribbs did nothing to help Prater's numbers.

What about on the road? Let's take a look.

Just to clarify our data, and this applies to the home numbers as well, we've excluded all onside kicks, squibs, and kicks by Britton Colquitt.

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Plenty to play for Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It may be cliched for the team to say it's not looking past Sunday's game against the woeful Chiefs.

But considering the prize that awaits a regular-season-ending victory, it's not hard to believe. After all, the Broncos will guarantee themselves a first-round bye and two weeks to prep for their playoff opener, if they're able to dispatch with the NFL's worst team.

Even better, if the Colts somehow manage to knock off the Texans in Indy on Sunday (in an early kickoff), Denver will have an opportunity to snatch home-field advantage from Houston with a win.

Win Sunday, and the Broncos will have two weeks to heal up, rest up, and game plan for whomever they'll end up hosting in the divisional round - New England would appear the likeliest opponent, if Denver remains the number-two seed.

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