The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 1-29-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The biggest story out of Indy continues to be the Peyton Manning/Jim Irsay drama, rather than the Super Bowl being played there a week from tonight. In the latest development, Jason La Canfora reported that the Colts had already made the decision to move on from Manning several weeks ago. Naturally, Irsay has disputed the validity of that report, if anyone wants to believe him; Colts WR Reggie Wayne, who's about to hit unrestricted free agency, says the whole thing is like a soap opera.

Meanwhile, the Colts have hired Bruce Arians to run their offense - a week after the Steelers announced he was retiring and Arians said he was pushed out of Pittsburgh.

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The Daily Lard 1-28-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jack Del Rio will become Denver's seventh DC in seven seasons this year; he was also John Fox's first DC with the Panthers in 2002, Del Rio's only season as an NFL DC. Obviously, the familiarity for the two men is a plus, although presumably a successful 2012 has the great likelihood of Del Rio landing another HC gig the following year. But, let's worry about that when the time comes.

Terms of Denver's deal with Del Rio were not disclosed, although the coach will make $5 million in 2012 - the salary he's owed by the Jaguars. Whatever the Broncos pay him, Jacksonville will owe Del Rio the difference of the two figures. Denver also hired former Jaguars strength coach Luke Richesson.

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The Daily Lard 1-27-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! There's apparently quite the rift between Peyton Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay, who is rather unhappy about Manning's comments to the Indy Star regarding the sudden and vast changes within the organization earlier in the week. Manning had said,

It's not a real good environment down there right now, to say the least. Everybody's walking around on eggshells. I don't recognize our building right now. There's such complete and total change...I mean, it's 20 degrees, it's snowing, the building is absolutely empty except when you see coaches cleaning out their offices...It's unfortunate because so many of them have been such a big part of so many big wins here, and this is so ... sudden. Their keys didn't work the next day. There's no other way to do it?

Irsay's response yesterday:

He’s a politician...I don’t think it’s in a good interest to paint the horseshoe in a negative light, I really don’t. He’s such a big part of that and everything else, but the horseshoe always comes first....I think one thing that he’s always known, because he’s been around it so long, is you keep it in the family.

Sounds like it's the end of the Manning Era in Indy, as Phillip Wilson is ready to accept; Bob Kravitz thinks the two men should bury the hatchet before moving on; Dan Wetzel says this all started with Rob Lowe's tweet.

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The Daily Lard 1-26-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The self-appointed Grand Poobah of Denver sports has proclaimed:

  1. Denver should go with Richard Smith at DC, because Woody likes the job he did with the linebackers this year.
  2. For some reason, Woody thinks Chuck Pagano (who took the Colts job) was a possibility, even though he was already a DC in Baltimore. Really, this is just some mental masturbation so that after Pagano has success in Indy, Woodrow can say he wanted Denver to hire him.
  3. He says Eddie Royal "really wants to return" and even posits that he "probably will." Yeah, right.
  4. Who else but Woody would have the chutzpah to apply the "bust" label to a seventh-round pick who played in 15 games (three starts) like he did with Virgil Green? Paige even says Green and fellow rookie Julius Thomas need to "get a clue."
  5. He expects the Broncos to trade out of the first round. This is called throwing $#!t against the wall in hopes of it sticking.
  6. Woody doesn't expect the Broncos to draft a QB, and of course he doesn't think they should.
  7. He actually extends an olive branch out to Mike McCoy and praises the stellar work he did this year. Let's see if his minions do the same...
  8. And, to top it all off, Woody says John Elway got too much credit for his comeback wins just as Tim Tebow does. And, wait for it...wait for it...John Elway was never a pure pocket passer. Only the greatest QB prospect in perhaps the history of the sport, but he was just an earlier version of Tebow. They're basically the same guy!

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The Daily Lard 1-25-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jeff Legwold says Denver LB coach Richard Smith and former Jags HC Jack Del Rio are the most likely replacements for Dennis Allen, who left to take the head job in Oakland. Meanwhile, Andrew Mason adds ex-Rams DC Ken Flajole, Packers DL coach Mike Trgovac and Cowboys DL coach Brian Baker as possible candidates; all had coached on John Fox's defensive staff with the Panthers.

Although the glitziest name (by far) among these options, it's worth noting that Del Rio would presumably only take an assistant position as a precursor to lining himself up for another head gig elsewhere. So even if he were to take the job that Mason suggests could be "his to turn down," were Del Rio to be successful in Denver, he'd likely be out the door shortly thereafter. What's the priority for Fox? Get the best man for the job, period? Or, the best man for the job who is also likely to stick around beyond one year? Of course, it could be that Fox believes he can always refill the position with a qualified coach, and one can never know when a coach will get called upon for a promotion - after all, the presumption in this space had been that Allen's youth and relative inexperience would keep him in Denver for at least another year. So much for that.

Thanks, Dennis Allen, for returning the Broncos defense to respectability - it was no minor task. May you have many a second-place finish in your future.

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The Daily Lard 1-24-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Unfortunately it seems there's another dark side to the disastrous game Niners return man Kyle Williams had on Sunday, and we're not even talking about the death threats. As Giants LB Jacquian Williams tells it, his team's strategy was to focus on Kyle Williams and his history of concussions:

Had the Giants noticed something about Kyle Williams's technique, some weakness in the 49ers punt-return scheme? "Nah," Williams said. "The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game."

Barry Petchesky reacts:

NY Mag wonders if the fact that no beat writers are talking about it means that it's a commonplace tactic. I don't know if anyone would admit it in so many words, but it would be dumb to think otherwise...And it's naive to pretend that players have some sort of ethical obligation not to target the soft spongy neural tissue of others. They've already shown they play with no regard for their own long-term health, so to expect them to look out for each other is asking too much...This is football, and the players and fans have a silent bargain that we're going to live with this and not talk about it more than we have to.

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The Daily Lard 1-23-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Two hard-fought, physical games ended with special teams gaffes last night, first the Patriots surviving a last-minute drive by the Ravens after Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard FG which would have sent the 23-20 game into overtime. Only moments prior, Ravens WR Lee Evans had a potential game-winning TD catch knocked out of his mitts; he actually had the ball with both feet on the ground, but Sterling Moore knocked it away at what was probably the last possible instant before the play would have been ruled a catch.

New England's opponent in the Super Bowl will be the Giants, who defeated the Niners 20-17 in overtime after being given the ball on the 49er 22-yard line when Kyle Williams fumbled a punt return for the second time in the game.

It will be the first Super Bowl rematch since the Cowboys pummelled the Bills in Supes 28 and 29, and the two teams got there in much the same manner as when the 10-6 Giants took down the 16-0 Patriots four years ago. These overdog Patriots won 13 games and took home-field advantage, while the Giants again overcame a sluggish start to their season and rumors of Tom Coughlin being on the hot seat before taking down both of the NFC's top seeds. However, this time the Pats open as three-point favorites instead of the 12-point line which preceded SB 42.

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The Daily Lard 1-22-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his column today, Woody Paige revisits his relationship with the late ex-owner of the Broncos, Edgar Kaiser Jr. It's an interesting read, especially when noting how the NFL has changed in the past thirty years, from what sounds like a whimsical hobby of billionaires to the serious moneymaker it is today. As Kaiser told Paige, his purchase of the franchise from the Phipps family was completed "in a matter of hours," and then-Colts owner Robert Irsay apparently chose Denver as John Elway's trade destination because Irsay had befriended the young Broncos owner.

Franchises swapping hands and moving cities on flip decisions, owners agreeing to trade star players and directing their GMs to do so; sure, it all seems quite haphazard in retrospect - but will the game ever be as fun as it was back then?

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The Daily Lard 1-21-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! By now, everyone knows that Mike McCoy lost out in his bid to become the head coach of the Dolphins, who instead chose Packers OC Joe Philbin. And while a certain segment of the fan base thinks they could do a better job of calling plays than him, there is no doubt that retaining McCoy is the best thing for Tim Tebow's future as a quarterback and with the Broncos. Unless he suddenly becomes a candidate for the Tampa or Indy job, or Reggie McKenzie overlooks McCoy's snub from earlier in the week, the former QB will be entering his third season as Denver's OC.

Just as was the case heading into the 2011 season, nothing could be more important for Tebow's development than continuity. Denver call-in shows have likely spent the week suggesting candidates to replace (and upgrade over) McCoy, but we should all be letting out a big sigh of relief. McCoy understands Tim's strengths and weaknesses and how he learns, and he's seen them on display everyday at Dove Valley for the past two years. He's already shown a willingness and commitment to adapt his playbook for Tebow in a way most OCs likely would not; can anyone imagine Mike Shanahan doing such a thing? Mike Martz? McCarthy? Payton? Think any of those offensive geniuses would take over the Broncos if they were forced to have Tebow as their starting QB?

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The Daily Lard 1-20-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel says the Dolphins are expected to announce their head coaching decision this morning, with Mike McCoy still considered the frontrunner by several sources. As Jeff Legwold notes, superagent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents several Dolphins, hit the airwaves yesterday saying he believes McCoy will be the choice. Meanwhile, Dave Hyde is reminding Miami fans that the team's most high profile coaching hires haven't worked out, so he suggests that hiring a lesser known coach like McCoy or Joe Philbin is perhaps preferable.

As for the Broncos, it will be interesting to see how McCoy structures his staff should he get the gig; usually departing coordinators are allowed to take an assistant or two from their old team with them. This is pure speculation, but one might figure the guys John Fox brought with him from Carolina would stick around, while any of Brian Callahan (quality control, offense), Clancy Barone (tight ends) or Eric Studesville (running backs), who were all hired by Josh McDaniels, could be more likely to go with McCoy. We've already heard that QB coach Adam Gase would likely become the new OC, with Buffs assistant Rip Scherer taking the QB coaching spot.

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