The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

What were Shanny and Chip thinking? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! After a mostly meh wild card weekend, the decisions of two head coaches are in the spotlight today.

First, there's old friend Mike Shanahan, who left a gimpy RG3 on the field, only to have the dynamic quarterback further aggravate the knee injury he'd suffered in Week 14 against Baltimore, and leave for good in the fourth quarter. While many are skewering Shanahan for the decision, Griffin demanded that he be kept in the game, and let's not forget that Shanny himself almost died playing football, so it's not like he was asking his player to do something he wouldn't have done.

That doesn't make his decision right, and it doesn't mean reason ruled the day, but as Patrick Hruby writes, that's the problem with football. Mike Silver rightly points out that people should think about their own reactions to Jay Cutler's knee injury from a couple of years ago before they judge Shanny and RG3.

As for the original injury, Shanahan doubled down on his claim that Dr. James Andrews had cleared Griffin on the sideline during the Baltimore game, so stay tuned for that he said/he said showdown. Should get more interesting before all's done with.

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RIP, Jeff Lewis Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In just a few hours' time, we'll be learning which subpar playoff team (between Indianapolis and Baltimore) will be visiting the rarified air on Saturday afternoon to take on your top-seeded Broncos.

By edging the middling Bengals and their scattershot quarterback (who Mike Klis pronounced earlier in the year would meet Cam Newton "in a future SB or three") by a 19-13 margin, the Texans earned a return trip to New England and a chance to avenge the 42-14 thrashing they suffered there four weeks ago.

Houston will need to bring with them the defense that showed up last night, and find the confident Matt Schaub who threw 21 touchdowns in the first 12 games of the season - not the milquetoast one who's thrown just one in the past five.

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McGahee on track for return Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Although Chip Kelly is likely to become the next coach of the Browns, he still met with the Bills last night and will interview with the Eagles today.

It was a busy day for Buffalo's front office, who also interviewed former Bears coach Lovie Smith and Doug Marrone of Syracuse, and will interview Broncos OC Mike McCoy today in the Denver area.

With Kelly probably ending up in Cleveland, Philly has expanded its search to include Colts OC Bruce Arians and Seahawks DC Gus Bradley; they'll meet with McCoy tomorrow.

Arizona, the other team McCoy will sit down with today, is apparently still waiting to hear whether Handshake Haley will take their interview request, as he reportedly doesn't want to jeopardize his standing Pittsburgh.

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Bill O’Brien: loyal, humble state employee Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Expectations continue to be that Andy Reid will become the next head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

When this happens, Arizona and San Diego, who had been scheduled to interview the ex-Eagles coach, will each be down two targets.

PSU's Bill O'Brien, who had already interviewed with the Browns and was also being pursued by the Eagles,  Cardinals, and Chargers, announced he will be staying at the school.

Of course, as these college coaches tend to do, O'Brien framed his decision as him being a great guy who sees through commitments. You know, he was so committed to not being a "one-and-done guy," that he went for an interview. Look, there's nothing wrong with going for the interview; people look to improve their job situations all the time. But don't claim you're the most loyal person on earth just because you weren't offered didn't take the job.

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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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