Even during the Denver Broncos 3-0 start, the team's offensive line has struggled. It isn't just an issue of one player, but none of Denver's five starters have played good football this season.
However, this consistent struggle from the starting five persisted against the Cleveland Browns last week and played a significant part in Denver's loss. While every starter is underperforming, the right tackle position has continued to be a mess as Bobby Massie isn't holding his own.
The Broncos have a young tackle behind Massie in Calvin Anderson, and after scrutinizing the film of these past few games, the team should make a switch here to see what the young guy can do. Massie has struggled all season, but watching his game against the Browns made it clear that he shouldn't be starting.
Allow me to illustrate.
Play 1: Second Quarter | 1:50
Massie has a tendency to block his defenders into the play instead of sealing the lane. As an offensive lineman, his main job on a run-blocking play is to seal the rushing lane from defenders and, if he can, discard his first block and make a second one. This rushing attempt had a chance to be a solid gain if Massie had done a better job.
Off the snap, Massie and RG Graham Glasgow climb to the second level, letting their defender through for LG Dalton Risner to pick up. Center Lloyd Cushenberry seals the lane against the 3-technique, and Risner does a good job of keeping the right side 4-technique from making the play. The first-level blocking does a great job.
On the second level, Glasgow picks up his block and has the lane sealed initially. However, Massie is late to his block and tries to seal the lane by pushing the defender through the hole. However, the defender can sit in the lane with Massie not getting any push and slow down the ball-carrier enough for teammates to make the tackle after a two-yard gain.
Play 2: Second Quarter | 1:28
In pass protection, Massie will frequently give up the inside shoulder. As a result, Browns' edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney was able to win inside multiple times throughout the game. To put it simply, Massie is oversetting for a speed rush, which he does no matter what type of pass rusher he goes against.
There isn't much more to this play as the defender puts pressure on QB Teddy Bridgewater. This forces the quarterback to move outside the pocket, cut the field in half, and practically throw the ball away. Massie does well by firing off the snap with quickness, but he needs to trust that and stop oversetting heavy for the outside rush.
Play 3: Third Quarter | 14:11
Another play where Massie gives up the inside shoulder, only this time, the result is far worse than the previous play. Denver is trying to run it between the tackles, and he lets the defender get inside to blow up the play before it ever gets started. There's no excuse for Massie to give up the inside shoulder here, and it started with him lowering his head into contact.
The defender is one many Broncos fans are familiar with — Malik Jackson. Unfortunately, Jackson can slow the ball-carrier instead of allowing him to cleanly hit the hole with speed, which keeps this play from gaining many yards. To add to the issue, Massie devolved into a small but noticeable hold to keep Jackson from making the tackle for a loss.
Play 4: Fourth Quarter | 15:00
This play feels a bit cheap to include since there should have been offsides against the Browns which caused Massie to be delayed in pass protection. However, you play until the whistle, and Massie should play this like any other play until it's blown dead.
His brief pause, expecting the flag and whistle, was enough for the defender to take his outside shoulder and sack the quarterback. Adding insult to the injury of the play was LT Garett Bolles getting called for holding on the other side.
This is bad luck for Massie, but he has to play until the whistle and not just expect it. There's still the free-play opportunity here, had a flag been thrown for offsides, but Massie nullified it by letting his guard down.
Play 5: Fourth Quarter | 6:39
This is the type of play that highlights why Massie shouldn't be oversetting outside. He fires off the snap and seems to trust his kick-slide speed, and can meet the defender and the top of the arch. From there, Massie just guides him behind the quarterback without pressure getting home, though the placement of the throw was off, and it ended in an incompletion.
While this game was rough for Massie, there were a few good plays from him. If he can play to that level more consistently, he would be fine at right tackle. The issue is, he has shown no consistency through the seven games this season, which is why Denver needs a change at right tackle.
The Broncos need to see what they have in Anderson and whether he can be better than Massie. If Anderson doesn't do any better, Denver can always put Massie back in. From there, it would be clear how weak the Broncos still are at right tackle going forward.
Follow Erick on Twitter @ErickTrickel.
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