The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Jets are a clown show, Bro Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! During each of Denver's games this season, we've seen several shots of Peyton Manning speaking with his teammates after a drive.

Usually the camera shot only shows Manning surrounded by his five linemen and perhaps line coach Dave Magazu, but this apparently isn't a matter of just the quarterback and his linemen discussing protection and calls.

According to Peyton, the entire offense has been meeting after every possession, good or bad, to discuss what they saw on the field. Taking inspiration from the military, and encouraged to do so by John Fox, Manning & Co. refer to these get-togethers as their "debriefing sessions."

As for the location of these conferences, Manning says the skill players head over to where the big heavies sit, hence our television view of the backs of the offensive linemen, and Peyton facing the camera.

NFL Films captured a bunch of these conversations from the Carolina game in their latest Sound FX piece. (h/t AldenBrown)

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Even as praise rolls in, subtle front office moves get overlooked Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The credit continues to come in John Elway's direction for his stellar job turning the Denver franchise around.

In an interview with the AP, Elway revisits the decisions to come back to football, hire John Fox, and pursue Peyton Manning. But while the story covers the most discussed of John's Dove Valley moves, especially the recent ones, there are, of course, others worth recalling.

We recently lauded the front office's moves to re-sign Wesley Woodyard and sign Chris Harris as an undrafted rookie, but what about Elway's first big move - re-signing Champ Bailey?

Staying in the backfield, the choice of keeping Tony Carter over Drayton Florence (whom they'd given a $1.5M signing bonus only months earlier) stands as a move that evidences a rare ability to quickly recognize a mistake and move on from it, and obviously, Carter has been paying hefty dividends.

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LOL Chiefs Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! At some point, do we all have to feel badly for the Chiefs?

After having been predicted by a near consensus of NFL punditry to be this year's AFCW champs, KC has been reaching new levels of futility and despair by the week.

Last night, the Chiefs (1-8) lost to the Steelers (6-3) by an overtime score of 16-13, on a field goal set up by yet another turnover by Matt Cassel - this time an athletic interception by Lawrence Timmons. It was the team's 30th turnover on the season, but their only one of this game; they got to OT after Cassell connected with Dwayne Bowe on a 4th-and-15 conversion late in the fourth quarter.

Lowlight of the night for KC has to be the 15-yard celebration penalty they were hit with on a touchdown that had been called back.

Dumb rule, for sure. Still, quite befitting for the 2012 Chiefs.

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Von is the real Superman Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday's game was supposed to be a showdown between self-professed superheroes Cam Newton (Superman) and Denver's pass-rushing Dynamic Duo of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.

It wasn't much of a battle, as the Broncos (6-3) cruised past the host Panthers (2-7) in an easy 36-14 win (GamebookANS box score).

Either Newton forgot his cape, or Von is the Kryponite to Cam's multiple powers, like he is to most quarterbacks.

Denver's Batman (Dumervil) came up with a strip sack of Newton before leaving with an early shoulder injury, and Robin (Miller) was the unquestioned star of the day, posting four tackles for loss, a sack, another hit on Newton, a forced fumble of his own, and a seemingly countless slew of hurries, including one which led directly to a beautiful 40-yard pick-six by the still-emerging Tony Carter.

Updated 9:33am ET

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Seemingly endless D.J. drama finally at a close Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The tumultuous, torturous offseason for D.J. Williams is finally nearing an end, although the linebacker is taking another hit in the bank account to get there.

According to Mike Klis, the man named Genos will be officially back with the Broncos tomorrow under a renegotiated (trimmed) contract, the details of which have not been released.

It's been a dramatic eight months for the ninth-year player, starting with news in March that he'd been suspended six games for providing a non-human urine sample after allegedly fumbling the bottle it had come from. D.J. attempted to fight that suspension by suing the NFL in federal court, but that suit was dismissed in June.

In the interim, a mistrial was declared in the first trial for his 2010 DUI case, and then he tweeted out a page from the Broncos' defensive playbook, albeit not one featuring any truly sensitive material. Still, it was another judgment error in a Denver career littered with them.

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Whither the LB depth problems? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Unfortunately, but to no great surprise, Tracy Porter has been ruled out for tomorrow's game in Carolina.

Chris Kuper, who will be out two to four weeks with his latest ankle injury, is the only other player who didn't practice; the other six Broncos listed on the injury report were full practice participants Friday and are listed as probable.

As has become Denver's wise habit for early East Coast games, the team flew to Carolina yesterday - a day earlier than they do for other road affairs - and the team's PR crew is sharing photos from their travel experience through the organization's Twitter account.

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Andrew Luck, athletic white guy Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! The Colts (6-3) whipped the hapless Jaguars (1-8) 27-10 last night for their fourth straight win, avenging Jacksonville's only victory of the season.

Andrew Luck ran for two scores, and although I wasn't paying close attention, I heard Mike Mayock and others in the studio mention at least three times that Luck's athleticism is underappreciated. Well, gee - why might that be, Mike?

It's the same reason people wonder if Eric Decker is the next Ed McCaffrey, or why everyone was in such a hurry to say Peyton Hillis was the second coming of John Riggins.

No, this is not racism.

Rather, it's intellectual laziness, where people who spend their lives studying football and breaking physical traits and talents down to the nth degree, are somehow unable to see past the color of a player's skin (meaning, the people who are doing the underappreciating, not necessarily Mayock).

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Peyton Manning, reefer opportunist Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! We've been saying since before the season began that fullback Chris Gronkowski wouldn't be seeing many offensive snaps. Or at least, that he shouldn't be.

Not sure why Jeff Legwold & Co. believed otherwise, unless they were just willing to believe whatever sound bite John Fox and Mike McCoy provided them.

And now that Virgil Green is becoming more involved in the offense following his four-game suspension, he's taking some snaps at fullback. We'll disagree with Legwold's claim that Denver's large scoring deficits have been the reason for Gronk's limited play, especially since Chris has hardly played offense in the games when the Broncos didn't trail big, including Sunday.

The biggest factor is using the no-huddle offense and substituting less, which requires players be versatile pieces that can be moved around a formation. That's clearly not what Gronkowski is.

However, that doesn't mean Gronkowski has been a wasted acquisition; as Legwold notes, Gronkowski has been active in all eight of Denver's games, and is second on the team in number of special teams snaps to David Bruton.

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Broncos gain heaps of midseason props, FWIW Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! So much of the talk this season has been about Cam Newton's struggles.

But as several numbers-centric writers have noted recently, Cam's not been performing measurably worse in a lot of categories. Yes, he's passing and rushing for touchdowns at a lower rate this year, but that happens. His Y/A and NY/A numbers are actually better than they were in 2011, while his AY/A and ANY/A trail last year's figures by a tiny margin.

He even has a higher YPA on the ground than last year, albeit with fewer touchdowns and a lot more fumbles.

Point is, Cam Newton has not suddenly been figured out, nor turned into a crappy QB. He's still a serious threat, and five of his team's six losses have been by six points or less.

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Kuper injury not disastrous Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As feared, a severe ankle sprain will keep right guard Chris Kuper out for as long as a month.

While the credit is not all his, the team's streak of three wins and three games without Peyton Manning having taken a sack, does coincide with the return of Kuper from the forearm injury he suffered during training camp. Denver also had (by far) its most productive game running the ball with Kuper, totaling 225 yards on the ground against New Orleans.

In 175 snaps played over three games, Kuper has graded out at an excellent +3.5; backup Manny Ramirez has a -2.4 grade in 387 snaps.

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