The Daily Lard 1-6-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Dave Krieger decided to debunk dig into this ridiculous notion that the play calling is completely* to blame for Denver's recent offensive struggles. So, he asked John Fox why the team hasn't utilized more screens and quick slants. Here's what the coach said:

Everybody's mush-rushing us because of Tim's ability to scramble. They're not really rushing. Really, the screen pass and the draw play are typically for a very aggressive, penetrating, up-the-field style of defense, and because of the style of run game we have, we're not getting that.

Krieger also checked in with Brian Griese, asking him about the so-called "conservativeness" of the offensive game plan:

I don't agree that the play calling was too conservative. We talked at halftime about coming out and throwing the ball, play-action, specifically on first down, and Mike McCoy did that on three successive downs in the third quarter, called those passes. And the thing that happened was Tim Tebow didn't feel comfortable letting that ball fly and brought the football down and either took a sack or got a minimal gain.

So, the plays were called and Tim, for whatever reason, whether it was confidence, whether he wasn't able to see well enough, or whether he just got nervous, I'm not sure what it was, but he did not look like the same player that he was during the six-game winning streak.

* I just realized that I didn't quite express my point clearly this morning, thanks to a comment from BRASO (Thanks for that). I don't mean to suggest the play calling is completely blameless, but I find calls for Mike McCoy's head to be ludicrous.

Broncos

NFL Films previews the game, video of Dennis Allen and Mike McCoy speaking yesterday, and Elvis Dumervil was on NFLN talking about Denver's season; Kenny Legan summarizes Allen and McCoy's comments, practice notes from Max Henson, and Matt Prater was named the AFC ST Player of the Month.

Brian Dawkins and Spencer Larsen again missed practice; Andrew Mason revisits the teams' last playoff matchup.

Denver granted Jacksonville's request to interview McCoy for their HC gig, and they will do so sometime next week.

Willis McGahee thinks he can be the key to a Denver victory.

Jeff Legwold explores Von Miller's late-season struggles and considers what the Broncos have stacked against them.

Shannon Sharpe says the Broncos offense is like a one-pitch pitcher, and that Dick LeBeau & Co will force Tebow to throw the ball.

Mike Klis speculates that the decision by Landry Jones to stay at OU means the Broncos won't use a first-round pick on a QB.

Doug Farrar isn't so sure that Tebow can "pull the trigger" as John Elway wants him to on Sunday.

Mike Tanier breaks down the Denver zone-read option and how Pittsburgh may try to defend against Tebow & Co.

John Clayton points to a couple of interesting numbers from Broncos/Steelers: Big Ben has been in the shotgun 80% of the time since injuring his ankle (54.8% before), and Tim Tebow's passes are underthrown or overthrown 31.4% of the time (clearly, McCoy and the WRs' fault - and surely this is true of all rookys).

Zachary Pierpoint for CHFF and Damon Hack for SI preview the game.

Lindsay Jones looks back at the two teams' 1977 playoff meeting.

Mike Evans of 104.3 got a Tebow tattoo on his shoulder after losing a bet; for some reason, Timmy said Mike should "pray about it."

Steelers

C Maurkice Pouncey suffered a setback to his high ankle sprain and did not practice yesterday; neither did Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel and James Harrison, although those three are expected to play. 

Dejan Kovacevic says the Broncos are worried by the threat of WR Mike Wallace.

Albert Breer notes that this will be just the second time in 13 weeks that Pittsburgh will have both LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison playing.

Steelers RB Isaac Redman's career was almost derailed in high school due to sexual assault charges.

A Broncos victory could end the careers of several veteran Pittsburgh defenders.

Trimmings

Packers exec and former Raiders player Reggie McKenzie will in fact be Oakland's next GM.

San Diego fired DC Greg Manusky and elevated his buddy John Pagano from coaching the linebackers to take his spot.

Wow, the Chiefs are going to interview Jack Del Rio. How awesome would that be for Denver's future prospects?!

Handshake Haley may slink his way back to the Cardinals staff, while Shanny may hire Raheem Morris for his defensive staff.

St. Louis interviewed Jeff Fisher, Tampa Bay met with Mike Sherman, Miami will talk to Packers OC Joe Philbin, and the Jags are interested in Bengals OC Jay Gruden. The Bears, Colts and Rams have sought permission to talk with Baltimore's Eric DeCosta for their GM openings; St. Louis and Indy will also interview Ryan Grigson of the Eagles.

It's expected that Pats OC Bill O'Brien will be the next HC at PSU.

Bill Barnwell previews Lions/Saints and Bengals/Texans; Andy Benoit and Pat Kirwan break down Giants/Falcons.

Some keys for the weekend from Matt Bowen, plus he  analyzes Megatron vs. the Saints D.

In his preview of the week's games, Mike Tanier says Broncos/Steelers may not be worth watching before the two-minute warning, and he can see just one TD being scored. Among his weekly picks, he's going with the Steelers 

Tanier also mulls over the front office and head coaching changes and non-changes, and he digs into a few odd statistical notes from the season. Man, has Tanier been busy.

Doug Farrar compares the Broncos, Niners and Texans and their run-first offensive approaches (the run total for Houston is wrong; the ratio is right).

Scrapple

As we mentioned earlier in the week, Brian Burke's probabilities give Denver a 19% chance of victory Sunday.

End-of-year stuff from PFF: observations from Nate Jahnke, awards for MVP (Von Miller #10), OPOY, DPOY (Miller #5), and All-Pros (Brodrick Bunkley, Miller).

Best and worst of the year's DVOA at each offensive position from Vince Verhei.

Rob Rang updates his big board.

Drew Magary thinks the instant replay system should be scrapped (agreed) and he thinks the Broncos are proof the tiebreaking system is similarly crap (probably also true). Plus, he says 2011 was a year exemplified by trolling.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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