The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 10-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver is hoping to have Julius Thomas in action tomorrow, although he's listed as questionable. Brian Dawkins, Demaryius Thomas, Eddie Royal and Willis McGahee are all listed as probably and will play.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins are banged up at free safety and are unlikely to have usual starter Reshad Jones (doubtful) and his main backup Chris Clemons (questionable). That leaves Tyrone Culver, who's primarily a special-teams player, and Gerald Alexander (who was just re-signed on Wednesday) to man the position. CB Vontae Davis and TE Will Yeatman are also questionable, while Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush, LB Cameron Wake, RB Daniel Thomas, and CB Nolan Carroll are all listed as probable.

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The Daily Lard 10-21-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Chris Benson previews Sunday's game for PFF, and he's looking forward to seeing what Denver's young wideouts have to offer - he says Demaryius Thomas provides the most potential, and that Eric Decker must prove that he can get open without Brandon Lloyd commanding the attention of opposing defenses. Benson writes that winning the game (for either team) will be a matter of committing to the run and not making big/costly mistakes in the passing game, and he points out that Joe Mays has been very much hit or miss (literally) in run defense. In fact, Mays is among the leaders among inside backers in terms of defensive stops, but he's got a stomach-turning number of whiffed tackles (eight in five games).

Finally, Benson is interested to see how Orlando Franklin fares (along with whatever TE help Denver provides him) in keeping Dolphins pass rusher Cameron Wake away from Tim Tebow, and he considers it another important key to the game.

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The Daily Lard 10-20-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Woody responds to more Tebow-centric witch-hunt-y questions about Brandon Lloyd, and of course he says that Brandon "wasn't a troublemaker" and "didn't conduct his business in public." Woody points to Brandon's intellect and skill and writes that just like any wide receiver (except Brandon Marshall, of course) BLloyd wanted to stay friendly with all of the QBs to ensure they threw him the ball. He says that most of these Broncos talk to the media off the record, although he doesn't mention whether that's unusual as far as Denver teams go, or any NFL squads, for that matter. Woody says Lloyd used to be a good source for anonymous quotes, since he of course is so well-spoken.

In response to a question about how Denver fans treat their players, Woody points out that fans are the same everywhere, and he's right. Here in New York, Mets fans bombard the call-in sports talk shows with their misery, and even worse, ownership tends to "hear' them and react by overpaying guys like Jason Bay, Frankie Rodriguez, Ollie Perez and Luis Castillo, seemingly to pacify ticketholders who want something big done yesterday. And of course, as soon as these ill-advised moves fail and the players don't live up to their contracts, there are those same fans, booing. Carlos Beltran, one of the very best players in Mets history, is remembered by most fans for not swinging at one of the timeliest and most devastating curveballs you'll ever see, rather than the graceful excellence he exhibited every night. So, Kyle Orton has had a rough time with the Broncos, but it's not Denver-specific. The grass is just always greener, with other quarterbacks, cities and fanbases alike.

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The Daily Lard 10-19-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The trade deadline has passed, and Kyle Orton, D.J. Williams and Eddie Royal are still Broncos, while Brandon Lloyd is not. Well, that would make sense - only the most talented of the four was coveted by another team. Remember, this is a team that's gone 7-24 over its last 31 games, so the notion that the players we want to see shipped out (Orton, D.J.) would actually be desired elsewhere is perhaps a bit misguided. It would be a surprise to see any of those three players back next year, though.

Yes, D.J. is signed through 2013, but his contract is one that no team would likely want to inherit, and it would be surprising to learn that Denver was interested in paying the rest of it out. He's making $4.9M this year, $5M next year, and $6M in 2013. But it doesn't appear he's due any guarantees going forward, so color me shocked if D.J. isn't cut sometime between the end of this season and the beginning of the next. Perhaps Denver could get a seventh-rounder at some point if D.J. is willing to renegotiate his contract to go someplace specific, but that too seems like a stretch. Oh well. On to Miami...

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The Daily Lard 10-18-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver made another roster move last night, filling the spot vacated by the Brandon Lloyd trade with safety Rafael Bush (5'11, 197), whom they signed off of Atlanta's practice squad. The Falcons signed Bush as an undrafted free agent last year out of South Carolina State, and he dressed for their season finale after spending the year on the PS. Mike Klis says the signing of Bush is likely a response to the neck injury which kept Brian Dawkins out of practice yesterday and the poor play by Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter in the Broncos' last game versus San Diego.

Klis says the Lloyd trade was largely about money, as the team apparently offered Brandon a two-year deal but with no guaranteed money coming until after this season, and a salary below what Lloyd felt he deserved. Add to that the presence of young wideouts Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas (who was back at practice yesterday) and mix in the fact that Denver just isn't chucking it downfield very much under John Fox's guidance, and you have the makings of a trade which both sides are happy with. And to reiterate, the Broncos would not have received a compensatory pick until the 2013 Draft had they kept Brandon around for the remained of the season.

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The Daily Lard 10-17-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! More information is finally leaking out regarding the Broncos' near trade of Kyle Orton to the Dolphins. Apparently, it was Miami owner Stephen Ross who nixed the deal, because he is set upon having a clear franchise QB in place for the 2012 season, and well, you know... Ross also intends to hire someone with the stature of Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher to either run his team or coach it. In case you care about these things for some odd reason, Cowher was TJ's first coaching choice for the Broncos post-Shanahan, while I was hoping for Fisher earlier this year.

Further, Chris Mortensen says the deal was so close to fruition that Kyle's transportation to the Sunshine State had been arranged. In other words, the Broncos were more than prepared to ship Orton off, as we've figured since about nine months ago. But you know, continue to blame John Fox or John Elway for Orton not being moved. We don't need no stinking facts when we have our sights set on someone, right?

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The Daily Lard 10-16-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I had a rather disappointing Twitter exchange last night with former Denver GM Ted Sundquist, who had written on his own site earlier in the day that Brandon Lloyd "has a history of less than “exemplary” behavior in Dove Valley" and in response to a reader's comment went on to call Lloyd "disgruntled" and speculate that Denver would even consider deactivating the WR or releasing him outright. In yesterday's Lard, I had written that Sundquist was "sadly perpetuating the myths about Lloyd being a bad guy". Later in the day, Sundquist tweeted:

@craigary @IAOFM Nice blog, but I wouldn't "perpetuate the myth" if I didn't know what I was saying. Would never do that to a player.

This is fair. Ted spent 16 years in the Denver organization, and he presumably still has plenty of knowledgeable contacts there. So, perhaps there's some truth to what Ted wrote yesterday. I'm certainly in no position to dispute that, and I won't. But, Ted's writing now, and on his own site - and he's the first person to paint Lloyd as a malcontent in Denver. Yes, Brandon arrived with a less-than-stellar reputation; but again, we've had over two years to judge the guy for ourselves. There was no hint of Lloyd being disgruntled or having demanded a trade when Mike Klis broke the news the other day that Brandon was being offered around.

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Appreciating Mr. B. Lloyd Lard 10-15-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! No real news on the Broncos front, or developments in the Brandon Lloyd situation, but I thought I'd share some thoughts on Lloyd. Brandon has been a truly remarkable player for Denver, and it's been a shame to see folks dragging his name around like he's a malcontent or more of a "me guy" than any other NFL player. Sure, he never really did much of anything pre-Denver and never lived up to his billing, and perhaps he was something of an unhappy camper while playing for three different teams in six years. But really, who cares about that stuff? This is Brandon's third season in Denver, so don't we have enough to go on from seeing him on the field and hearing/reading what he has to say every week to form a true opinion of the guy?

For one, the guy spent 14 weeks on the inactive list in 2009 while making the minimum $620K (plus a $50K signing bonus) and we never heard a peep. He then goes out in 2010 and produces one of the best, if not the best, season(s) of any WR in the league and receives a $755K salary, which was the minimum for his experience level (he later received a $500K incentive for making the Pro Bowl). This year, he is playing for a $1.395M salary in the final year of the two-year contract he signed with Denver after having dressed twice in 2009. Yet, we have never heard any inkling of a complaint from either Lloyd or his agent about playing time, his salary or his contract in the 2.3 seasons he's been a Bronco, during which he's made about $2.36M so far and would make about $3M total through the end of this season.

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The Daily Lard 10-14-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Don Banks wrote a lengthy article about Tim Tebow's prospects for the next 11 games, getting analysis from skeptics Brian Billick and Trent Dilfer and the more optimistic Jabar Gaffney, who of course played with Tebow last season and worked out with him over the offseason. Dilfer believes Tebow will have some success early on, but that adjusting to his skills will only be a matter of time for opposing defenses. He also thinks that Tebow's struggles with "rhythm, timing and location" will ultimately be his undoing, and that although Tim has the talent, he's just not consistent enough to be successful at this level. Dilfer goes on to say that Tebow would have had a better chance in the deep-drop NFL of the 1980s, but today's precision passing game based upon timing and shorter drops does not suit him well.

Billick, meanwhile, thinks that Tebow's ability to extend plays is going to end up getting him injured, and he finds it nonsensical that folks are comparing Tim to Cam Newton, whom Billick says is a much better thrower than is Tebow.

Finally, Gaffney says Tebow was exhibiting more poise and a quicker release during the offseason, and that Tim "can make every throw out there." Gaff also points out that the young QB's mobility gives his receivers confidence in that he can keep plays going long enough to find them open. Obviously, we have to hope that Jabar is correct and not just sticking up for his former mate and fellow Gator...

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The Daily Lard 10-13-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest Walkthrough, Mike Tanier reimagines the Denver QB change and the Peyton Hillis saga in Cleveland, among other dramas. Plus, he diagrams the final play from Sunday's game and says it was all about Knowshon Moreno's excellent pass blocking. But of greater interest to us, Tanier offers his take on the whole Orton/Tebow thing - he believes John Fox should have started Tebow from Week 1 of the preseason, and that he instead went with Orton out of stubbornness and needed Orton to be a resounding success to get away with it.

Meanwhile, Tanier is sticking with his evaluation that Tebow will not make for a good pro quarterback, and he writes that none of Tim's passes Sunday were on time, and that all followed some confused backpedaling. But he does point out that designed runs were quite effective with Tebow and leaves open the possibility that the young QB's "running and his intangibles make him a viable quarterback." Tanier also stresses that Mike McCoy must tailor the Denver offense to highlight Tebow's strengths rather than try to foist the offense as operated by Orton upon Tim. Ultimately, Tanier just wants to be able to write about either the Broncos' future with Tebow or which QB they'll be taking come April - and a long look at Tim starting next week is the only way to get there. Sounds good to me.

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