The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 4-24-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Elway met with the press (video, partial transcript) yesterday to talk about the draft, which begins only 60 hours from the time of this writing. Elway spoke about the retirement of Brian Dawkins (it was the player's decision), the team's needs at defensive tackle (he claims it's overstated) and at cornerback (you can never have too many), and even the Ring of Fame-worthiness of Simon Fletcher (still not in, despite Elway being tricked into thinking he was just added by a reporter's question).

As for trading picks, Elway says the team is more likely to move down from #25 than up, so we should all prepare for the possibility that Thursday night will come and go without Denver adding a player. He also says the team will again draft with the intent of receiving significant contributions from their early picks as rookies.

More on Elway's comments from Lindsay JonesArnie Stapleton, and Stuart Zaas.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 4-24-12"

NFL playbooks? There’s an app for that Lard 4-23-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday we read that Denver would be moving fully into the future of the NFL game on the field, borrowing from the Packers, Saints, and Colts to develop the passing section of their playbook. We already know they've adopted a forward-looking approach to conditioning with their hiring of Luke Richesson and his subsequent overhaul of the team's workout facilities.

Today, via Andy Vuong, we learn that the Broncos are following the innovative and intuitive leads of the Ravens and Bucs by eschewing the printed playbooks of old for digital ones distributed on iPads. Players will apparently be able to access game plans, film, and scouting reports on their new tablets, with newly added plays pushed to them instantly.

As for security concerns, the team will be able to remotely erase any iPads that potentially go missing, whereas once a printed playbook was lost, there was no recourse.

Nonsensically, the NFL is not yet allowing tablets to be used on the sideline during games, but they at least have relaxed a silly rule that said such devices had to be shut off 90 minutes before kickoff. Instead, players will have access to them in the locker room right until gametime.

Continue reading "NFL playbooks? There’s an app for that Lard 4-23-12"

The Daily Lard 4-22-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Woody Paige, the new Denver offense will be complected of:

  • Plays straight out of Indy's playbook, of course
  • Plays that John Fox and Mike McCoy grew fond of during their seven seasons together in Carolina
  • "Pass plays the Broncos had before Tebow," which really means concepts and plays inherited from Josh McDaniels
  • Willis McGahee-friendly rushing plays from last year
  • Plays copied from Green Bay and New Orleans, the preeminent passing offenses of the day
  • Pass plays which suited the skills of new Broncos Joel Dreessen and Andre Caldwell in their prior homes (Houston and Cincy, respectively)

Peyton Manning also tells Woody he's been spending some quality time with Johns Elway and Fox, and that he's found a house in the area.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 4-22-12"

The Daily Lard 4-21-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the reason the Eagles and Broncos did not complete a deal to send CB Asante Samuel to Denver is that the Broncos and Samuel were unable to agree to a renegotiated contract. The 10th-year corner has expressed a willingness to rework his deal, but apparently the two sides haven't yet been able to find common ground.

And while Mike Klis's story from yesterday suggests that Denver has given up hope of completing a deal, McLane's account makes it sound more open-ended:

While Samuel has agreed to restructure the remaining two years of his contract - he's slated to earn $10 million this season and $11.5 million next season - he has yet to consent to some other requests by Denver, sources said.

McLane also says the Eagles "appear willing to take whatever they can get before the draft starts Thursday," so this truly isn't a matter of Denver Philly playing chicken.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 4-21-12"

The Daily Lard 4-19-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! We're only one week away from the start of the 2012 NFL Draft, and that can mean only one thing: it's time to celebrate The Passion of the Legwold.

Legwold kicks off Passion Week by breaking the news that Denver desires an impact player at #25, as opposed to the middling prospects they would normally be after in the first round. He also reiterates that the team has interest in BSU runner Doug Martin and could see them taking Martin at #25 if the top defensive tackles are all gone at that point. In fact, that's exactly what he has them doing in his first-round mock.

As for offensive linemen, The Impassioned One says the team is "giving long looks" to center and guard prospects because Peyton Manning is coming off an injury, not because J.D. Walton and Zane Beadles were pretty terrible last season. And, if Peyton were 100% healthy, they wouldn't want to give him great protection?

Presumably it's Legwold (or, could be Klis) who reviews Denver's 1st-to-3rd-round picks of the past 11 years, incredibly calling Jay Cutler just an "OK" pick, while generously calling Beadles and Walton "Good" picks. Look, Cutler may be a jerk, and we give the guy a ton of grief here, but let's be serious - he is a legitimate starting NFL QB and should remain one for a long time, and he is BY FAR the best QB from that 2006 Draft. To equate the expenditure of resources to select Cutler with those spent for Tebow, and to call Beadles and Walton better values than Jay is pure hackery. Really, it's a complete and utter joke.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 4-19-12"

The Daily Lard 4-18-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jeff Legwold continues his The Position I'm Writing About Today is a Notably Risky One to Draft series with wide receivers up next. Now, in fairness to Legwold, we did cite this piece yesterday in which Matt Waldman said teams find it especially hard to evaluate QBs, WRs and DBs. But name a position that Legwold hasn't written up as being a super duper gamble and we'll give you a gold star sticker.

Legwold also claims Denver needs more depth now that they have a QB who loves to throw the ball a ton, although this of course ignores the fact that running a no-huddle offense means not changing personnel all that much from play to play. As Ted has noted, the same players tend to stay on the field with Manning.

In reality, Peyton Manning does distribute the ball to a lot of players, but those players are basically all starters. A look back at his time in Indy finds that each year, the bulk of his passes would go to two or three wideouts, two or three tight ends, and two or three running backs. At almost no point in his career has a fourth WR caught very many passes, and early on it was essentially Marvin Harrison and nobody else.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 4-18-12"

The Daily Lard 4-17-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's offseason workout program began yesterday, and Peyton Manning, Champ Bailey, Eric Decker, and Von Miller (all videos) all met with the press afterward.

Manning says he's still basically living at Dove Valley, although that's probably something of an exaggeration. Judging by his secretive nature, he probably already bought a house in the area. Of course, the practice nut seems very excited to have started the official, albeit voluntary, portion of the offseason.

Meanwhile, Miller says his injured thumb is still only at 85%, while Decker's knee is free of pain. The third-year wideout says he is already familiar with the "new-age" techniques utilized by strength coach Luke Richesson from having worked out at API the past couple years.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 4-17-12"

The Daily Lard 4-16-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's offseason program kicks of with "voluntary" workouts today, and according to Mike Klis, the Broncos will be spending two hours each morning working with new strength coach Luke Richesson, followed by two hours meeting with their position coaches and coordinators.

As per Mike Florio, here's the offseason schedule as set out by the new CBA:

  1. Two weeks of strength and conditioning, no helmets, balls can only be used by QBs throwing to uncovered receivers
  2. Three weeks of drills for individual players and units, still without helmets
  3. 10 days' worth of OTAS in a four-week period, helmets but no pads, and no "live contact"

Teams will face steep penalties for going outside this framework.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 4-16-12"

The Daily Lard 4-15-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jeff Legwold revisits the team's frequent draft-day trades while Josh McDaniels was around, and he says the team too often reached for prospects they liked.

But it should again be noted that the problem with McDaniels's drafts is who the team selected, not that they traded up to get them. The reality is that both years, the team came out of the draft with a greater number of players and at higher spots than when the selection processes started. They moved up and down the board masterfully.

Players like Richard Quinn and Alphonso Smith did not work out, but why does it matter that they were second-rounders? They simply didn't work out, and it wouldn't have made a difference had Denver taken them later. They're still the same flawed players. If Quinn and Smith were third-rounders, we'd still be having the same conversation today about how much they suck, right?

Just remember what TJ wrote last year - it's all about improving the team's odds at finding starters. Brian Xanders (with and without Josh McDaniels) has been doing a great job of adding picks to Denver's arsenal. This year he's starting with seven, so perhaps he doesn't need to do so, but my guess is he will again be making some moves.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 4-15-12"

The Daily Lard 4-14-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jeff Legwold says the Broncos have struggled to find defensive line talent in the draft, and his proof is that they've only gotten two future Pro Bowlers in the past 30 years. Pretty compelling stuff, huh?

Well, Legwold holds up the Ravens as a model for success that Denver should strive for.

Anyone care to guess how many Pro Bowl defensive linemen they've drafted in their 16 years of existence? One.

Maybe we should check in on the Steelers. How many Pro Bowl defensive linemen do you think they've drafted in 30 years? Three.

How about the Giants? After all, they are routinely loaded on the line. They must have drafted a ton of Pro Bowl linemen, right? How about four in 30 years?

Today's lesson? Finding talent in the draft is really hard. This does not only apply to the Broncos. The lesson that Pro Bowl selections are a horrible measure for this sort of stuff? That's for another day...

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 4-14-12"