On paper, the Denver Broncos offensive line had an advantage over the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, that perceived leg up going into Week 2 turned out to be the complete opposite in reality.
If Teddy Bridgewater wasn't playing as well as he did, Denver's blocking would've cost this team the game. The Broncos' O-line was that bad, which is why I've launched this three-part series to put the blocking under the microscope.
There were many options to pick from to highlight the Broncos' ineffectiveness when blocking. That's how bad the unit was on Sunday. The Broncos made multiple plays offensively, but it often came in spite of the blocking upfront and this was for the second week in a row.
If you have not done so, make sure you check out Part I and stay tuned for the third installment on Thursday.
Play 1: Second Quarter | 5:18
A lot is going on here in the wrong way, so first, let's cover the only good block. LT Garett Bolles is handling a speed rusher trying to get around the corner, staying patient instead of lunging for contact. When the rusher goes to spin it inside, his feet start to come out from under him, and Bolles helps guide him to the ground, along with a bit of an extra shove when the defender gets back up.
As for everything else, there is so much awry. LG Dalton Risner is working on a double team with C Lloyd Cushenberry III, but he is so focused on the edge rusher he never looks at his double team. Risner was supposed to keep an eye on the edge in case he cut it back inside, but it's okay to glance at who you are currently engaged with. All Risner did was make life more difficult for Cushenberry and ended up not doing much.
Cushenberry held his own with the bit of help from Risner, and this was one of the better plays from the second-year center. The issues are more so on the right side, though it didn't lead to much pressure and Bridgewater dumped it off with all the receivers covered tightly.
Jaguars' DL Taven Bryan works against RG Netane Muti to get in a position to try disrupting the pass. However, Muti couldn't handle the length or leverage and allowed the defender to sit in the throwing lane. While this isn't a devastating play, it's yet another play revealing how Muti's lack of length can be a detriment.
RT Bobby Massie does a solid job to start this rep, but the problem happens when he shifts to give a shove to the rusher. At the top of the arch, Massie attempts to pancake the edge rusher, but the defender is able to absorb the contact and use it to boost himself around the corner. From then on, Massie had been turned around, and thankfully, the play ended before any real damage occurred.
Play 2: Second Quarter | 3:50
All three of the interior offensive linemen — Risner, Cushenberry, and Muti — just get stood up at the line of scrimmage. There is no push whatsoever to generate room for the ball-carrier. In addition, Risner hurts Cushenberry's positioning by engaging on the double team that drives the defender into the hole.
Bolles climbs to the second level where two backside defenders lurk with only one blocker coming across to seal the backside, which was by design. TE Albert Okwuegbunam takes the inner backside defender to clear the hole, but his positioning was terrible. That helps the defender clog the actual running lane, with the second backside defender free to make a play.
The three interior O-linemen have two defenders and just got stonewalled. They were not able to open up any semblance of a hole for the running back. If the trio can do its job, the second backside defender would have been far less of a threat to make the play, as the ball-carrier could just burst through the hole. The blockers have to execute their matchups, especially when it has a one-blocker advantage in numbers.
Play 3: Second Quarter | 2:00
Risner and Cushenberry were consistently the weakest links inside in this game. The other three had their issues, no question about that, but not nearly as consistently as those two.
Cushenberry gets taken for a ride here by giving up his shoulder. His lack of strength or ability to recover is apparent as the defender drives through to give him no room to step up. However, Cushenberry does manage to ride the defender out instead of allowing him to drive through Bridgewater, which is what a blocker should do in this situation. So it was a bad start, but not a terrible end.
As for Risner, he lunges into contact with his feet in a concrete slab. The defender slaps away his hands and gets the inside shoulder. After that, Risner stopped moving his feet, a death warrant on a rep for an offensive lineman.
It's fortunate for the Broncos because this was a beautiful play design by OC Pat Shurmer. There was so much commotion in the shallow middle of the field that allowed WR Tim Patrick to be wide open. Bridgewater also deserves credit for standing in there to take the big hit from the very defender that left Risner in the dust.
Play 4: Third Quarter | 13:29
Risner actually made a solid block here and managed to get enough push to clear out his lane. But he did start giving up positioning. By the time he lost the rep, the play was already over.
The lack of strength from Cushenberry is on display here. In a one-on-one matchup, he has to get under the nose tackle and drive him off the ball. Instead, he gets stood up, and the nose can two-gap — waiting to react once the ball-carrier makes his cut. With Cushenberry unable to clear out the hole, it slows the play down.
Adding to the issue with Cushenberry is TE Noah Fant being late to leak through the line and get to the linebacker. Fant has to be a little quicker in getting to the second level with slightly better positioning. The linebacker was able to come down and meet Melvin Gordon in the hole with impunity.
Play 5: Third Quarter | 9:07
Muti has to lunge to get contact, and the defender can quickly swipe away his punch attempt. From there, Jaguars' DL Adam Gotsis had the inside shoulder, and he just powered through to get the sack. The former Broncos' second-round pick swipes and rips to the inside which is kryptonite for Muti because it puts him at a disadvantage with his lack of length.
Heading into the season, the outlook of the Broncos' interior offensive line was sky-high but that confidence is quickly waning. This trio was far worse against the Jaguars than the New York Giants, the latter of whom boasts a much tougher on the defensive line.
Each of Denver's interior offensive linemen needs to be put on notice somehow. But it's not like the Broncos have the players waiting in the wings to make wholesale changes at this time.
Follow Erick on Twitter @ErickTrickel.
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