The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 2-3-12

Happy Friday Broncos fans! Several notable ex-players who are suing the league for its handling of head injuries during their careers spoke to the AP about their experiences. Among them was former Broncos RB Tony Dorsett, who rightly thinks the league should provide retirement healthcare for players:

"Yeah, I understand you paid me to do this, but still yet, I put my life on the line for you, I put my health on the line," Dorsett says. "And yet when the time comes, you turn your back on me? That's not right. That's not the American way."

"They were hitting me, and I'd be squealing like a pig," Dorsett says, imitating the guttural sound. "It was so bad that the other team was telling our coaches, 'Get him out of the game.' You know that something's wrong then. And like a fool, I stayed as long as I could. They're going to our sideline, telling our coaches, 'Get him out of the game!' ... You know it's bad when the opposition feels sorry for you."

"The owners need to own up to it, own up to what the game does to human lives. There's a zillion football players in the same situation with their brains, their backs, their knees. Come on. They just need to own up to it, and do something about it. They've got money they can put in funds to take care of guys when they need to help," Dorsett says. "We need health insurance for life. Paid by the NFL. No question in my mind, we definitely need that."

"They use you up. No matter what the circumstances are, it's all about winning games, football games, regardless. And they don't care, because they figure, you know, 'We got, you know, replacement factories,' which are colleges. And there's going to be somebody else to eventually come along and fill that void," he says. "So they just put you out there, and feed you to the wolves. And if you make it through, fine. If you don't, that's fine.

Dorsett frames the NFL's reluctance to care for its ex-players as being un-American. But that's too narrow a point, for this is not about American values. It's about humanity.

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The Daily Lard 2-2-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Gather 'round, kids - it's time for another episode of Learning With Woody. Today's lessons:

  1. March 8 (when Peyton Manning's roster bonus is due) falls this year "at the end of" the month.
  2. Denver isn't close enough to the SB for Manning to join the Broncos, but the Redskins and Dolphins are.¹
  3. The Broncos would have gone 4-12 if Kyle Orton was the QB all year, and this is an indisputable fact.
  4. Demaryius Thomas drops too many passes and runs "pretty lousy" routes.
  5. Denver needs better from Thomas, because Tebow "can make that (deep) throw." ²

Now to the actual journalism (maybe): Woody's sense is the Broncos will give Tim Tebow all of 2012 to prove whether he should be their long-term QB or not, and if not then they'll draft a new guy high in the 2013 Draft.

¹ This is not a suggestion that Manning should come to Denver. Really, it's not.
² According to PFF, Tebow ranked 28th out of 31 QBs in terms of deep passing accuracy, despite the 10th-lowest drop rate on such passes (only two drops in 63 attempts).*

* Not saying Tebow can't throw deep or can't improve. Just presenting facts.

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The Daily Lard 2-1-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Super Bowl is only four days away, but the biggest news in Indy continues to circle around Peyton Manning, who says his recovery is on schedule and that he has no plans to retire. In an interview with the Worldwide Leader, Manning said,

I really feel good. I continue to make progress every day. Everything that the doctors have told me has been on point, which is encouraging to me. I just had a great day today with rehab, just got back from the facility, and that's what we continue to do. Just keep trying to get better. So far I have. That's the plan from here on out.

Meanwhile, he told Dan Wetzel.

I have no plans on [retiring]. All the other talk, it is what it is. My plan hasn’t changed. I’m on track with what the doctors told me to do. I’m doing that. I’m rehabbing hard. And I’m enjoying this week.

Barry Petchesky thinks Peter King and Jason Cole went a bit far in their coverage of Manning's rehab this week; in their younger days, Peyton used to dole out some knowledge along with the beatings he gave Eli.

 

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The Daily Lard 1-31-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Let's lead off with a phenomenal quote from Von Miller (via Jeff Legwold) about being taken off the field during Denver's Week 5 home loss to the Chargers. Keep in mind, Von is only 22 years old (he'll turn 23 in March):

Something like that had never happened to me before. They took me off the field, and I had to watch other people play because of my mistakes. I felt like I was better than that and that it would make me stronger, but right then you kind of think you weren't ready. But they want to see how you do with that too. You can't just fold up. You have to be strong. I was determined to be strong and show the coaches and my teammates that I'm a guy they can rely on.

That's a remarkable bit of self-awareness and perspective, especially from an elite young athlete. One has to figure the Broncos didn't need to think long about whether to draft Von after seeing his tape and interviewing him at the Senior Bowl.

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The Daily Lard 1-30-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The AFC beat the NFC 59-41 in the Pro Bowl last night, and former Denver WR Brandon Marshall was the star of the show and MVP, catching six passes for 176 yards and a record four touchdowns.

Von Miller led all players with eight tackles and two tackles for loss, and he posted the game's lone sack, taking down Cam Newton for an 8-yard loss. Willis McGahee had 43 yards from scrimmage, Champ Bailey recovered a fumble, and Brian Dawkins played for the first time since leaving the Buffalo game early. Hopefully he came out of the game feeling okay and his health will allow him to keep playing. Denver's other Pro Bowlers were Elvis Dumervil and Ryan Clady.

Oh, and Drew Brees whiffed on a drop kick.

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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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