Evaluating the Tantalizing Competency LT Garett Bolles Flashed in Week 11 vs. Vikings
Garett Bolles cannot be trusted. There are no 'ifs, ands, or buts' about it.
Bolles has shown over the course of his career that he lacks consistency and while the Denver Broncos may get some great games out of him, even consecutively, eventually it will all collapse. None of that even mentions the penalties, in which he leads the NFL with 19 total, 13 of which have been accepted.
That said, Bolles had a great game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11, who boast two of the best pass rushers in the NFL and are top-5 in multiple pass-rushing categories. If history is any indication, that means Bolles is out of his slump and will be good for a few games but the odds are he will collapse at a later point down the road.
Even so, Bolles' game against the Vikings deserves praise. He really shut down those pass rushers and got them to give up on multiple plays. There were many plays to choose from for Bolles to illustrate how well he played, but I am limiting myself to three.
Play 1: 14:13 | First Quarter | Heads-Up Awareness
This was a really good play from Bolles as Denver is taking a shot to TE Noah Fant. Bolles starts the rep by getting into good positioning quickly, and as the rusher spins inside, he handles it with great technique and gets into the combo block with C Connor McGovern.
When the inside rusher goes to cut inside, Bolles recognizes it and makes a very heads-up play. McGovern is in bad position, so he can’t give up on his block there, but the now outside rusher needs someone to slow him down. Bolles maintained the block on the inside, but also got his hand out to slow the outside rusher down.
LG Dalton Risner pulls to the right and gives up the pressure, but Brandon Allen was able to get rid of the ball and hit Fant for the big gain.
It isn’t just the technique that stood out with this play for Bolles, but the fact he actually made a very heads-up play to block to defenders because of failures from linemen around him. That is unusual to see, as Bolles doesn’t make awareness plays like this often.
Play 2: 13:25 | Fourth Quarter | Road-Grader
Denver is trying to run it inside with RB Phillip Lindsay, but McGovern, WR Tim Patrick, and RT Elijah Wilkinson fail on this play, preventing that from happening. However, Bolles takes the edge defender and just drives him back. Risner helped out initially, but broke off to take on a linebacker.
The block from Bolles gives Lindsay a huge lane to the outside, which he is able to cut and take to pick up six yards. Run blocking has been on area where Bolles has been decent all year, and here he was great. His execution and technique were very spot on.
Play 3: 10:17 | Fourth Quarter | Great Technique in Pass Pro
Denver is taking a deep shot here, so Bolles really has to step up and hold up. This is where edge rushers shine, as the quarterback has to hold onto the ball a little while longer. Bolles steps up, and despite the pass rusher trying multiple moves to break free, Bolles maintains the block. He doesn’t bring the pass rusher to a complete stop, but he does a great job of giving Allen time.
Bolles' technique to catch the pass rusher is great, and the pass rusher does get a little push, but Bolles makes an excellent adjustment to drop his anchor. Once Bolles did that, the pass rusher was done. There was next-to-no movement from there.
Unfortunately, despite getting time to step up, Allen was unable to put enough oomph on the ball, and underthrew WR Courtland Sutton. Had Allen been able to muster a little more mustard on this ball, this is a big touchdown play.
Bolles lacks consistency to be a starting lineman in the NFL. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have value, though. Denver needs to find a franchise left tackle, but Bolles should be kept as a backup to continue to let Mike Munchak work with him and see if they can get him to be consistent.
That doesn’t mean Denver should pick up Bolles' fifth-year option — they shouldn’t. Maybe with another year, he can finally get consistent and Denver can make it so he wasn’t a wasted first-round pick.
I am not holding my breath that Bolles turns it around, and neither should you. That said, he would be a solid depth piece for the Broncos and upgrade what depth they currently have.