The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Blaming the bye week Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Since Adam Gase declared on Thursday that his Broncos offense would be putting the "pedal to the metal" in 2013, there have been some questions about how Peyton Manning would feel about that.

We've always maintained that words from executives, coaches, and players tend to mean very little, so we won't truly know what pace the offense will be moving at until September at the earliest. We'll have some hints come July and August, but at that same time in 2012, we were constantly told that Peyton would be adjusting to the Broncos more than they'd be getting accustomed to him and his offense, and that two-back sets would be all the rage.

So for now, we'll have to rely upon those quotes, and take them with a grain of salt. Via Jeff Legwold, here's one from Manning relating to tempo, but it's from during the season - not this week:

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Denver’s loss more about s#@% happening than anything else Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As we all continue to ponder what went wrong for Denver last Saturday, it makes sense to think about which of the team's general shortcomings contributed to the loss.

Jeff Legwold suggests that the team's strength of schedule, turnovers, and the injury to Willis McGahee were overarching reasons for the Broncos not playing tomorrow.

We'll agree that McGahee would have made a big difference, especially since the Broncos ran the ball all ten times they faced one or two yards to gain on Saturday, but so would Knowshon Moreno have. Not having their two best backs available perhaps should have changed the team's strategy or Peyton Manning's decisions at the line in short yardage. Whether John Fox, Mike McCoy, or Manning is more to blame there, we'll unfortunately never know.

As for the strength of schedule issue, we're not buying that. Beating up the Saints, Panthers, and Ravens were all impressive wins, and the Broncos entered Saturday's game clicking on all cylinders.

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Oh, that incestuous NFL Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Barring a completely unexpected firing, the NFL's head coaching carousel is done spinning for this offseason.

Arizona held the final vacancy, and they filled it last night by hiring Colts OC Bruce Arians, who had stepped in for an ailing Chuck Pagano to perform one of the most remarkable coaching feats of the year. Arians led the Colts to a 9-3 record during Pagano's absence, only months after he himself was unceremoniously dumped by the Steelers.

The decision comes at the expense of Cards DC Ray Horton, who apparently figured the job would be his following the Chargers' hiring of Mike McCoy, who had been seen as Arizona's top choice to replace Ken Whisenhunt. Upon learning he'd been passed over, Horton reportedly had a 'heated exchange' with Arizona GM Steve Keim, and Arians is expected to replace him with Philly DC Todd Bowles.

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Broncos expected to name OC soon Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Expectations are that John Fox will select a replacement for Mike McCoy before the week is out.

According to Jeff Legwold's report, the choice will come down to current Denver QB coach Adam Gase and former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, who had interviewed for several vacant head jobs and was rumored as recently as yesterday to be a frontrunner for the Eagles job taken by Chip Kelly.

This would appear to mean that former longtime Colts OC Tom Moore - the only man to call plays for Peyton Manning in the NFL prior to Mike McCoy this season - is not under serious consideration.

Whatever happens, don't lose sight of the undeniable fact that a move will not be made without Manning's blessing.

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Bidding McCoy adieu Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! With Mike McCoy officially gone to San Diego, the focus turns to who will replace him as Denver's OC.

According to Jeff Legwold, the likeliest candidates to step into McCoy's shoes remain QB coach Adam Gase and former Arizona head man Ken Whisenhunt, with former longtime Colts OC Tom Moore a possibility as well. That Moore called plays for Peyton Manning for 13 years in Indy isn't his only association with these Broncos; John Fox's first year as the Steelers secondary coach coincided with Moore's last as their OC.

Legwold also floats former Browns head coach Pat Shurmur as a potential candidate. Prior to his two-year stint in Cleveland, Shurmur was on Andy Reid's Eagles staff for 10 years, before running the Rams offense for two, and taking the Browns gig.

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Leaving it up to a coin flip is apparently giving yourself a puncher’s chance Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know, John Fox has done a very good job managing this team and its personalities for two seasons. Two division titles and 21 regular-season wins for a franchise that had gone 4-12 prior to his arrival speaks volumes.

But aside from the team's success in the W-L columns, one of the most laudable hallmarks of his tenure has been his flexibility. That a head coach was willing to switch from a modern passing offense to a 1950s-era one because his quarterback couldn't read defenses or throw the ball with consistency said a lot about the man.

Fox even one-upped himself by helping convince one of the greatest QBs of all time to come to Denver, and then showing himself willing to fully adopt that player's offense. He pulled all of this off even while working with a new defensive coordinator each season.

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Hello, Offseason - it’s not nice to see you Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Last week, we took what we thought was a very early peek at Denver's cap situation for 2013, and the players due to become free agents.

Unfortunately, we were only days premature - not weeks - and it's already time to think about 2013 in earnest.

To review, Denver's pending unrestricted free agents are Ryan Clady, Brandon Stokley, Kevin Vickerson, Justin Bannan, Jim Leonhard, Keith Brooking, David Bruton, Dan Koppen, Jason Hunter, Tracy Porter, Ty Warren, and Matthew Willis.

The Broncos will have a three-day period from March 9-11 to negotiate exclusively toward new contracts with these players, whose 2012 deals will expire at 4pm on Tuesday, March 12, which is also precisely when the 2013 league year and free agency will commence.

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S#@% happens, especially when you’re playing Foxball Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans. For the Denver Broncos, 2012 revolved completely around one person - Peyton Manning.

To Denver's players and coaches, getting Peyton meant they would have a chance to win every game, and to improve their own play, as individuals and as a team. He represented the very real possibility of capturing the franchise's third Lombardi trophy.

We heard all week that Denver's veterans - namely, Champ Bailey, Keith Brooking, and Brandon Stokely - were trying to ensure that their younger mates would value the opportunity presented by making the playoffs, and being the AFC's number one seed.

From the fans' standpoint, this season was about once again having one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, and getting to watch his every play, series, and game in orange.

Put simply, 2012 was, for all connected to the Broncos, about appreciating Peyton.

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Cold weather Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's been 14 years (SB 33, -7.5) since the Broncos entered a playoff game as heavy favorites, as they are today (-9).

That 1998 team was also favored by 13.5 points against Miami, 9 over the Jets, and covered all three postseason spreads with relative ease.

We can all worry that today will be a repeat of Jacksonville, but given the gulf between the quality of these Broncos and Ravens, it will likely take an extraordinary set of circumstances for the upset to occur. These Broncos scored 90 more points than the 1996 squad did, and are the most well-rounded team in football.

Of course, Bill Simmons is predicting a Baltimore victory, but relies upon stupid trivia to do so. That a heavy favorite has lost a divisional game in each of the past seven postseasons means absolutely nothing, and the silly part is that Simmons (naturally) dismisses out of hand the possibility of his Patriots keeping that string alive tomorrow.

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Chudzinski to Cleveland, with Norv as his OC Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! After long being expected to land one of the biggest names among potential candidates, whether Nick Saban or Chip Kelly, the Browns went for the surprise move by hiring Rob Chudzinski.

Chudzinski, an Ohio native who grew up rooting for the Browns, had previously been an assistant on two Cleveland staffs, coaching tight ends for Butch Davis, and working as Romeo Crennel's OC.

Prior to his recent stint directing the Panthers offense and guiding Cam Newton to an unprecedented career start, Chudzinski was the assistant head coach/tight ends for two seasons under Norv Turner in San Diego. With Carolina, Turner's son Scott was on Chudzinski's staff, and why are we discussing the Chudzinski/Turner connection?

Turns out Norv will be Rob's OC in Cleveland, which of course means that he won't be replacing Mike McCoy in Denver, should McCoy earn a head gig elsewhere. Know anyone surprised by that news?

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