The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Dominance, thy name is Terrell Davis Lard

Good Evening, Broncos fans! By now, all of us who were around for the heyday of Terrell Davis's Denver career have either delivered or been presented with the case for his HOF worthiness.

We like to stress his status as the greatest postseason runner in NFL history, but the most common ammunition is that TD was absolutely dominant, and for a period, the best player in the NFL. He's got the hardware to back that up: the SB MVP, the league MVP, and the 2,000-yard season. Only TD comes to mind as the best (eligible) player on multiple SB-winning teams to not be in the HOF.

Generally, the argument against his inclusion boils down to the supposed brevity of his career, or the success of subsequent Denver running backs in the Shanahan/Gibbs zone-blocking system.

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Unlike in 2011, 2012 Broncos gashed on third and long Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mistakes and a difficult schedule have often been cited as the main culprits in Denver's three losses.

But let's not forget about the factor of luck, specifically when it comes to fumbles.

As mentioned by Andrew Mason, the team has had the remarkable misfortune of having lost all seven of its offensive fumbles - three by Demaryius Thomas, two by Willis McGahee, and one each by Peyton Manning and Knowshon Moreno.

For clarity's sake, Thomas's first fumble was on the game-ending hook-and-lateral play against Houston, and of course, Knowshon's fumble was clearly recovered by Eric Decker before the scab refs did their thing. From our vantage that's really six offensive fumbles and what should be one own recovery.

Even with those tweaks, the Broncos have been unlucky - but not quite as unfortunate as Mason's 47.82% defensive recovery figure suggests.

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One word at heart of Patriots’ pace Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! From a league-wide view, rather than a Broncos perspective, there was one facet of Sunday's loss to the Patriots that stood out: the pace with which New England's offense operated.

The haters will always call him a cheater, but the reality is that Bill Belichick always finds an edge. It's ironic that he's considered to be arrogant, with the truth being that Belichick is forever on a knowledge quest, and never do his actions suggest that he thinks he's figured everything out.

It's why he's constantly evolving, and why his Patriots have reflected so many different philosophies despite having the same superstar quarterback for the past 12 seasons.

We are all aware of the Hoodie's meetings of the mind with Urban Meyer, and with former Belichick assistant Nick Saban.

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Fox, Del Rio on cutting edge with Mays Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver has been a puzzling team so far this season, with all three of its losses featuring late 20+ point deficits and furious comebacks that fell short.

Yesterday's 31-21 loss to the Patriots (Gamebook, ANS boxscore) very much resembled the Week 3 loss to the Texans, with the Broncos defense getting gashed early and often via both the run and pass, before finally finding its way a drive or two too late.

What's the cause? Is it a talent deficit? A team still learning about itself, what with so much new personnel and yet another defensive coordinator?

We've cracked the code here at IAOFM.

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Gronk hurting for real Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Reiss says Rob Gronkowski's hip injury is nothing to be taken lightly and has had him in significant pain, and that the Pats are quite concerned about it.

Sal Paolantonio just reported the same thing on ESPN, but that Gronk will play today. As for his fellow tight end, Aaron Hernandez is still not expected to play.

As devastating as the Patriots offense can be, and as they were in the second half their demolition of the Bills last week, an absent Hernandez and a hobbled Gronkowski give the Broncos a chance to come away with an upset.

Reports continue to be that Chris Kuper will be a game-time decision, but that just reads like John Fox playing Bill Belichick's injury game.

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Chiefs fans ready to fly Pioli out of town Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Five Denver players are on the Week 5 injury report, but all of them are listed as having fully practiced on both Thursday and Friday, and all are probable for the game.

John Fox is maintaining that Chris Kuper will be a game-time decision; the team headed to New England yesterday, a day early, due to the two-time-zone difference.

WR Julian Edelman and S Steve Gregory are out for the Patriots, while in typical Bill Belichick fashion, TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, RB Brandon Bolden, LB Dont'a Hightower, G Logan Mankins, and T Sebastian Vollmer are among twelve Patriots listed as questionable.

New England is clearly trying to make it appear that Hernandez will be ready to play, presumably to force the Broncos to plan for the possibility. Hightower claims that he himself will be a game-time decision.

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Broncos’ 53 healthy heading to Foxboro Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Chris Kuper was listed as a full participant in practice yesterday, as were the rest of Denver's active 53-man roster.

Even so, John Fox isn't yet saying whether the right guard will return to the starting lineup this week; Mike Klis says it's "almost certain" Kuper will at least be on the gameday roster.

Likewise, Bill Belichick continues to give the league's injury report policy the finger, listing thirteen players as limited in Thursday's practice.

Word out of New England continues to be that TE Aaron Hernandez will not play Sunday, although he did return to practice on a limited basis yesterday.

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Owner may put Jets on Tebow Time Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As the team prepares for its trip to New England, it's only natural that much of the talk focuses on the showdown between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

QBs aside, these are two franchises that are very familiar with each other; not only did they face off twice last season, and seven times in seven seasons, but several players (Dan Koppen, Brandon Lloyd, Daniel Fells) have played for both teams (Niko Koutouvides doesn't count*). And of course, there's the Pats offensive coordinator, some dude by the name of Josh.

Unfortunately, three of their last four meetings have been absolute shellackings, with the exception being the Hoodie Jr./Hoodie Sr. game of 2009.

One key to this week's edition of Broncos/Patriots could be health.

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Chargers need Peyton’s help to sell tickets Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis addresses concerns about the boringness of using Jim Leonhard as Denver's punt returner.

He's right - although Leonhard isn't making any big plays, he's also not making major gaffes. And once the defense has gotten the opposing offense to give up the ball, the next play is all about making sure Peyton Manning gets his crack with it. Sure, a faster player might bring an extra couple of yards per return, but that doesn't seem worth the tradeoff of a less-experienced returner who may be more likely to fumble or make a poor decision.

Unfortunately, the Broncos just don't have a punt returner who's the complete package. This was readily apparent during the preseason; it's just one of those things the Broncos will have to accept until next offseason, when they are yet again presented with the issue.

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Centers have W-L records too Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! After 134 games as New England's starting center, Dan Koppen will be making his Broncos starting debut against his old mates.

But the transition to Koppen from J.D. Walton may not be as difficult as one might expect.

After all, Koppen is well-versed in Josh McDaniels's offense (much of which Mike McCoy still uses in Denver), and he also has loads of experience in operating sans huddle. Of course, the real question is, how familiar is Koppen with the Peyton Manning offense?

And as Sacco & Co. want us to know, all Koppen does is win. So what's there to worry about?

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