Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 3/23/11

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Fox outlines 2011 Broncos' defensive outlook - The Denver Post
Could the Broncos improve from No. 32 in 2010 to No. 2 in 2011? Fox has done it before. In 2001, the Carolina Panthers ranked No. 31, out of 31 teams, in total defense. Fox became their head coach in 2002 and Carolina finished second only to eventual Super Bowl- champion Tampa Bay in total defense. "Now, I don't want to propose we had these great coaches," Fox said. "We went out and got great players. That's what it takes.

Broncos' ticket-holders pay half now, half later - The Denver Post
oe Ellis knows the timing wasn't ideal. Business is business, though, and the Broncos' president didn't duck the issue. Although the NFL is engaged in a labor lockout that has players and owners stalemated in the court system, the Broncos asked season-ticket holders for half payment on 2011 seats. The other half will come due later in the spring. "We have explained clearly that in the event any games are missed, we would be providing a full refund for those games," Ellis said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. "Obviously, we hope it doesn't come to that, and we don't think it will reach a point where we miss any games."

Fox: Lockout won't hurt Broncos more than other teams - The Denver Post
Fox was asked three different ways about how the labor lockout — which prevents him from coaching his players and resetting his roster — will negatively affect the Broncos more than most teams. Fox has always downplayed the lockout impact. "It's something that's talked about, but I've had a chance to meet all the players early," Fox said. "There's only 32 of us (coaches). We watch a lot of tape. We get to know the players. I don't look at it as a negative at all. It affects all 32 teams. A lot is made of having a new coach. These things are not rocket science."

Falcons coach Mike Smith meets Broncos executive John Elway | All Things Broncos — Denver Broncos news, stats, analysis — Denver Post
Yet there was Smith politely waiting for his opportunity to meet John Elway here at the Roosevelt Hotel. Elway is a Hall of Fame quarterback who is here in his new role as the Broncos’ executive vice president of football operations. "I tell ya, it’s like travelling with Elvis," said Broncos coach John Fox.

NFL counsel: 18-game schedule possible down the line | All Things Broncos — Denver Broncos news, stats, analysis — Denver Post
NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said Monday it remains possible that the final collective bargaining agreement with the players could have an 18-game regular-season component. For now, the owners have said they will stick with the four preseason game-16 regular season game format for both the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Q&A: NFL in uncharted waters with labor issues - The Denver Post
But it will be mid- or late-April before everyone gets the first hint of a direction in all of this. There is an April 6 hearing over the players' lawsuit that challenges the NFL's lockout. It is expected it would take a week or a little more for a ruling. Most labor experts believe the players, as a result of that hearing, will get an injunction to prevent a lockout. But the league will likely challenge, saying how can there be a lockout if there is no "union," since the players have decertified.

Broncos not among the guilty 5 teams | All Things Broncos — Denver Broncos news, stats, analysis — Denver Post
The Broncos are not among the five wrongdoers. It seems that me that ever since the embarrassing McSpygate episode, the team has been almost paranoid about adhering to league policies.

Owners' Meetings: Fox
Head Coach John Fox talks about evaluating the roster, draft prep and why he employs a 4-3 defense.

Owners' Meetings Update: Monday
Owners' Meetings Update: Monday John Elway and Brian Xanders talk about what they took away from their visits to pro days and how the Broncos are preparing for next month's draft.

2011 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers
Fourth in the nine-part series: linebackers. Below you will find six of the top prospects at the position. Later in the week, we will profile another prospect to keep an eye on -- Oregon inside linebacker Casey Matthews.

Shanahan opens doors to Broncos - The Denver Post
"I would hope the Broncos would always feel like they can eat at my restaurant," Mike Shanahan, the Redskins' coach, said here Monday in the Roosevelt Hotel lobby. After all, there's no sense throwing away 14 good years as Broncos coach. "How about 21 years?" Shanahan said. He often corrects the 14-year references. Shanahan was the Broncos head coach for 14 years, winning Super Bowls in 1997-98. But he also was an assistant coach under Dan Reeves for seven years.

ProFootballWeekly.com - AFC team needs
Denver Broncos Top three draft needs: #1 DT #2 LB #3 TE Skinny: The Broncos will switch to a 4-3 defensive scheme in 2011 and have a lack of depth in the middle of the line. OLBs Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers will shift to defensive end, leaving a need for linebackers. Veteran TE Daniel Graham needs to be replaced.

NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive Pick Six: Broncos’ all-time draft busts "
Are the Broncos already done with Tim Tebow? There Broncos are reportedly doing their due diligence on the current crop of quarterbacks available in the draft. An indictment of Tebow? That is for others to decide. But if the Broncos were to pull the trigger on a quarterback, would Tebow qualify as the biggest bust in club history? Nah. Let’s count down the top six draft busts in Broncos’ history.

NFL NEWS

Advanced NFL Stats: Top Ten Most Exciting Games of 2010 - Dolphins at Packers
In light of winning Super Bowl XLV, the Packers home loss to the Dolphins is artistic. Not Artistic like, say, a Rothko color field. More like Varinia leaving for Gaul, showing their newborn son to Spartacus, saying "Please die, my love... die, die now my darling!" artistic. A cave hidden in the great artistic crevasse that is impenetrably deep but opens at the banks of the River Schmaltz.

Cold, Hard Football Facts.com: Our Naughty Nurse takes vital signs in Baltimore
Imagine if the Baltimore Ravens hadn’t won the Super Bowl after the 2000 season. Would we be talking about Ray Lewis as the greatest player ever not to win a ring? The decade following the Lombardi Trophy has been filled with success for Lewis, the defense and the team at large – six playoff berths, seven seasons ranking in the top six in defensive scoring and eight Pro Bowl selections for Lewis.

Cold, Hard Football Facts.com: The Wonderlic test for Dummies
Before Super Bowl XIII, Cowboys linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson proclaimed that Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw couldn't "spell ‘cat’ if you spotted him the ‘c’ and the ‘a’." Bradshaw had the last laugh, as he has had on anyone who dwells on his intelligence, or apparent lack thereof. Bradshaw threw four TD passes and won Super Bowl MVP honors as his Steelers outgunned Henderson's Cowboys, 35-31. Bradshaw has since said of Henderson's comments, "It's football, not rocket science."

Stats to John Thorn: Farewell to Me? Farewell to You! | Bleacher Report
John Thorn, official historian for Major League Baseball, wrote a three-part article titled "Farewell to Stats" last week. Stats happens to be a close friend of mine, so she asked me to publish this rebuttal on her behalf—MT

Playing in a Winter Wonderland | The Sports Economist
Last month’s Super Bowl was hampered by severe winter weather that dumped significant accumulations of snow and ice on the Dallas Metroplex, the host of this year’s game. At the risk of being contrarian just be be contrarian, could the snow have actually increased in the economic impact of the game on the Dallas area? It is quite reasonable to predict yes.

Joe Posnanski " Posts My Mother’s Basement "
I’ve always liked and admired the work of Bruce Jenkins. But the top quote is so annoying and bizarre and convoluted and maddening … how could anyone fighting for the integrity of resplendently crappy stats like batting average, wins and RBIs call ANYONE ELSE a "stat-crazed dunce?" Why are people who hate advanced stats so interested in the underwear bloggers wear?

New proposal for touchbacks may greatly affect kickoffs, returners - NFL - SI.com
The NFL competition committee's controversial proposal to change the rules governing kickoffs remained a work in progress Monday, with the chance that any new rule will continue to place the ball at the 20-yard line on touchbacks, rather than the 25, as first considered.

2010 Cowboys: What the Film Revealed - NYTimes.com
In terms of week-to-week performance, the Cowboys had the consistency of a Charlie Sheen rant. Their output did not come close to matching their level of talent. It’s easy to pin that on Tony Romo (shoulder) being out of the lineup, but consistency was a problem even early in the season, and the main culprit was the right side of the offensive line. Guard Leonard Davis struggled to play laterally and tackle Marc Colombo’s slow feet finally caught up to him. The play-calling hindered the running game’s rhythm, and Marion Barber’s lack of burst also factored in. Receiver Dez Bryant showed great promise, but his role was never clearly defined. That was a problem given the hit-or-miss impacts of Miles Austin and especially Roy Williams.

2010 Giants: What the Film Revealed - NYTimes.com
Eli Manning’s 2010 season was a perfect example of why the N.F.L.. should reclassify some interceptions as a receiver’s error, just as Major League Baseball reclassifies some hits as fielders’ errors. Almost half of Manning’s league-leading 25 picks were the fault of receivers like Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Steve Smith (listed in descending order of general culpability). Nicks and Manningham were a tad inconsistent in route execution, which put a dent on their otherwise impressive seasons.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Report: No compensatory picks, scheduling announcements at owners' meeting
The NFL is not expected to announce compensatory draft picks or the 2011 opening-weekend games at the owners' meeting this week, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Dez Bryant warned after NorthPark disturbance | Dallas - Fort Worth News | wfaa.com | Crime
According to the official police report, Bryant and three friends were stopped by the uniformed, off-duty officers working security shortly before 8 p.m. at the popular shopping center after they were observed "wearing their pants halfway down their hips exposing their underwear." The police asked the men to pull their pants up. "Mr. Bryant’s response to the request was profanity laced and [NorthPark] center representatives felt the outburst merited a request for Mr. Bryant to leave the premises," according to a Dallas police statement issued Tuesday evening.

Lions appeal tampering ruling | ProFootballTalk
By all appearances, the Detroit Lions were caught red-handed in a tampering case involving the Kansas City Chiefs, based in part on the public comments of Lions defensive coordinator (and former Chiefs head coach and defensive coordinator) Gunther Cunningham. And the penalty imposed by the league office seemed more than reasonable, in comparison to the sanction levied against the 49ers several years ago for tampering with Bears linebacker Lance Briggs.

Michael Vick returns to prison, lockout update, Kevin Kolb rumors - Peter King - SI.com
Andy Reid apparently is serious about trading Kevin Kolb. At the NFL meetings Sunday, a good source told me Reid already has one team willing to offer a first-round pick for Kolb, and now he's looking for a team with a higher choice in the round to make him a better deal.

Breaking down the kickoff rule fallout | ProFootballTalk
First, the move will obviously increase the number of touchbacks. With legs getting stronger and the distance to the end zone now only 65 yards, a 70-yard kick makes the taking of a knee likely and a 75-plus-yard kick removes all doubt. Second, coaches will be less likely to devote roster spots to kickoff specialists and/or to kickoff return specialists. Both class of player had better be able to do something else, or else.

Vikings prefer a quarterback through the NFL draft - Wire - Lifestyle - bellinghamherald.com
"Even if there were free agency, we might still look at quarterbacks (in the draft), unless there was a free-agent quarterback that had youth and you knew you were going to have him for a number of years," Frazier said Tuesday, the final day of the NFL owners meetings. "With a veteran guy, we'd still look at drafting a guy, because we need to build around a young guy who is likely to (stick around)."

Vikings Owner Continues Stadium Push Despite NFL Lockout
The Vikings lease at the Metrodome expires following the 2011 season. The Metrodome will be fitted with a new roof prior to the 2011 season, but Wilf has been looking for a new stadium in the Twin Cities for some time. The Vikings rank near the bottom of the NFL in revenue, the Vikings organization would likely receive a a signficant revenue boost from suites, parking, concession and seat licensing that does not exist in the Metrodome.

Shanahan biding his time waiting for NFL lockout to end - Washington Times
Shanahan was rejuvenated during his year off from football in 2009, when he spent some time visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers' and New England Patriots' training camps. He watched how two of the most successful teams over the past 15 years conducted their practices with a particular emphasis on the tempo and physicality of their teamwork.

Lockout should not be NFL’s biggest concern | The Crimson White
A former Chicago Bears safety, Duerson was 50 years old and may have been suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that has been linked with depression and cognitive impairment. The state of other former players is just as heartbreaking. GQ recently published an article on Fred McNeil, a 12-year veteran linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings during the 1970s and 1980s. McNeil received his law degree soon after he walked away from football, but by the mid 1990s, he could no longer comprehend long legal documents. Now, he does not even realize he no longer practices law.

NFL DRAFT

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Cover-2: The Outcasts
The news of University of North Carolina's football program facing as many as 16 suspensions for the 2010 season opener against LSU stood out even in an NCAA landscape that seems beset by more and different rules violations every year. In the end, several players missed multiple games and had to repay illegal benefits received from agents. Two key players, defensive end Robert Quinn and defensive tackle Marvin Austin, missed the season entirely. Quinn was suspended for the season, and Austin was kicked off the team.

NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive Getting to know … LSU CB Peterson "
One of the top draft prospects, Patrick Peterson, was at the NFL Network studios on Monday for an appearance on "Path to the Draft" and "NFL Total Access." He took some time to talk about the draft, reality television and a future career away from the football field.

Julio Jones closing gap on A.J. Green as NFL draft's best wideout - Peter King - SI.com
The Panthers, picking number one, reportedly have Green in their list of "six or seven'' players they're considering at the top of the draft. I'd be stunned in Carolina does anything but pick a defensive lineman, quarterback or trades the pick. John Elway has said the Broncos are considering a quarterback at number two, but that would be a shocker. Buffalo is not taking a receiver at number three; the Bills will go quarterback or defensive front-seven player. That brings us to the fourth pick. "My boss loves offense,'' Lewis said Tuesday morning.

ProFootballWeekly.com - In unexpectedly intimate setting, Georgia's Green shines
With the sun shining and the temperature of the shorts-and-T-shirts variety, it was a beautiful day to watch football practice here on Tuesday. And if you stood on the sideline at the University of Georgia's practice field during the receiver drills at the school's pro day, you saw one of the top prospects in the NFL draft look every bit the part.

Breaking down Cam Jordan and Da'Quan Bowers | National Football Post
This year, unlike the last few years, there are many defensive linemen that are capable of playing multiple positions in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense. We have already talked about Nick Fairley and Marcell Dareus. Today, we will talk about Cam Jordan of Cal and Da’Quan Bowers of Clemson.

Breaking down A.J. Green vs. press coverage | National Football Post
Let’s move outside of the numbers today and check out Georgia WR A.J. Green working vs. press-man coverage. Inside of the 5-yard line there are two routes run at the NFL level: the slant and the fade. Simple route schemes that have to produce results—especially vs. press coverage.

NFL scout on Mason Foster: 'He's a tough, instinctive player' | National Football Post
University of Washington linebacker Mason Foster has done enough since the season ended to raise his draft prospects from the third or fourth round to enter the conversation in the second round. According to one NFL scout, he initially had Foster graded as a third or fourth-round selection and now is of the opinion that Foster could go anywhere from 25th to 45th overall.

Brooks Reed: the next overdrafted workout warrior? | National Football Post
I want to start this piece by saying that I’m a Brooks Reed fan. You can check back to my summer scouting report on the guy where I not only gave him a draftable grade, but a potential starting caliber grade as well. And that was at the time where he was getting no love in media circles and just received the lowest possible draftable grade from the national reports. So I am a fan of Reed and think in the right situation the guy can be a capable pass rusher in the NFL.

Jones: Teams interested in Cowboys' No. 9 draft spot | Dallas Cowboys | Latest news and video...
Jones said the Cowboys haven’t made a decision about what they are going to do. The interest speaks to the value at the top of the draft and the myriad of options open to the Cowboys to get an impact player or parlay the pick into multiple players. "I’ve already had the opportunity to discuss and been approached by two separate clubs," he said. "It certainly enhances the value of that ninth pick because not only are we going to have a player that I think will make a difference for us now, we really have the opportunity to move down and are going to have that opportunity."

Stock watch | National Football Post
TE Jordan Cameron: Southern Cal (6-5, 254) Cameron is currently sitting as the NFP’s number two ranked tight end and has the making of a legit pass catching threat at the next level. The former basketball player has developed considerably since stepping foot on the gridiron, displaying an improved release, less wasted motion out of his breaks and exhibits the flexibility to block with leverage in the run game.

The media's influence on the draft | National Football Post
The days of teams moving secretly on campus to conduct private workouts are over. I know for a fact that the majority of agents leak their clients' workouts with hopes of generating interest from other teams and in order to paint the picture of inflated interest. But does the media coverage have an impact on the outcome of the draft and its participants?

ProFootballWeekly.com - Gabb session
Everyone is all smiles. Team Gabbert is rolling deep for son Blaine's big day, his throwing day in front of 125 NFL personnel and six head coaches, and no one seems a bit nervous.

Mayock calls Georgia Pro Day "weirdest I’ve ever attended" | ProFootballTalk
First, all head coaches were in New Orleans for the NFL owners meetings. Second, personnel types who did make the trip couldn’t even watch top prospect A.J. Green in pass-catching drills. Georgia has no outgoing, draft-eligible quarterbacks, so they had to call in Justin Roper from Montana. Because Roper did not play at Georgia and does not live within 40 miles of campus, Pro Day rules required the university to send all NFL officials indoors for Green’s individual drill workout, where they could watch on a monitor.

Bulldogs have some bite - CBSSports.com
Houston's versatility as a pass-rushing 3-4 OLB or 4-3 defensive end (in systems where being a shade under 6-3 is not a concern) makes him a coveted prospect. Unlike many college defensive ends transitioning into the 3-4, Houston does have some experience rushing from a stand-up position. But his "linebacker" work comprised mostly of chasing the quarterback, so he would have to work on other aspects of his game to be more than a specialist at the next level.

Updated 2011 NFL Mock Draft - Mocking The Draft
2. Denver (4-12)- Marcell Dareus- DT- Alabama - Denver will likely be starting two undersized defensive ends in Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers which means they need bulk in the middle. Dareus is a better run stuffer than Fairley and that will impact the Broncos decision at #2. I still feel that Bowers will be in play at this selection depending on Fox's true feelings on Ayers.

Justin Houston NFL Draft scouting report - Mocking The Draft
Final word: Houston is a good speed rusher when he gets a good jump off the snap. He has NFL size and enough athleticism to play outside in the 3-4. Against the run, Houston is only average and he's a work in progress in pass coverage. Had 17.5 sacks in his last two seasons at Georgia.

Big surprise - Panthers focusing on QBs for No. 1 - CBSSports.com
Just as he did during the Combine, Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera has highlighted a group of eight prospects for the No. 1 overall pick. He cited three quarterbacks among those prospects -- Auburn's Cam Newton, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and, perhaps surprisingly, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett.

NFL LOCKOUT

Making NFL travel plans has a twist: Protective clauses in contracts if lockout cuts games - The Washington Post
A single road trip involves lots of advance reservations. Moving players, a coaching staff and support personnel means a team’s travel party can range from 135 to as many as 200 people for 10 road games with each trip costing up to $1 million. That price goes higher for East Coast teams heading West or vice versa.

NFLLabor.com Commissioner Goodell: "The faster we can get back to mediation, the faster we will get an agreement" "
Nfllabor's Blog - NFLLabor.com Blog

Coaches talk about lockout confusion at owners meetings - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
At the 2011 owner's meetings, the confusion caused by the lockout was certainly a point of focus for every coach there. John Fox, who moved from Carolina to Denver and is now tasked with turning the Broncos around with John Elway above him on the org chart, said that while he was able to meet all his roster players before the lockout began, finds a common impact to each coach in this unique position. "We're all operating in the same situation. A lot is made of being a new coach, but there have been new coaches in this league forever. I don't think it's really that much of a factor in that way … Right now it's just a matter of implementing our systems.''

Valley News ~ Full Story
VN: Is the lockout going to be deemed illegal or given the green light in court? MM: There isn't as much case law to fall back on there as with player strikes, but the owners are likely to prevail in that the lockout itself wouldn't be deemed illegal. However, first the judge has to decide whether or not to grant the players a preliminary injunction, which would put a temporary hold on the lockout. I think there's a decent chance the players could be granted that, and that could open the door for further negotiations and the possibility that the two sides could reach a deal.

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