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Broncos Must Shake Up the O-Line: Here's How

The Broncos' offensive line has struggled weekly and soon, it could lead to personnel changes upfront.

There has been one consistent issue for the Denver Broncos this season — even when they started 3-0: the offensive line. Denver's struggles upfront have played a significant role in the team's inability to get a run game going and keep it going consistently. 

With the O-line playing such a factor in the Broncos' three losses, the team has to be considering changes to the starting lineup. Not only have the Broncos had their issues getting the running game going consistently, but they've also struggled in pass protection. 

In the first three games, Denver's offensive line allowed 35 total pressures with seven sacks. But in their last three games, the Broncos have relinquished 43 pressures with 12 sacks. That isn't a winning recipe. 

Even with Teddy Bridgewater playing well under pressure the first three weeks, his eventual downfall — which we've seen the past three games — was predictable. 

So what can the Broncos do to change up the O-line? First, understand that there aren't a whole lot of options when you look at the roster. It's never convenient to sit down a starter but it may be necessary at times. 

Left Tackle

Starting at left tackle, you can't make a change there. Garett Bolles has had his issues this year, but the Broncos literally don't have another option. So they have to stick by Bolles and hope he cleans up his play, which hasn't been as terrible as some make it out to be, but still hasn't been quite good enough. 

Bolles' issues have come in pass protection with four sacks allowed and 11 total pressures, but he has been the Broncos' most consistent run blocker. You can't change out the left tackle because Denver has to figure something out with Bobby Massie at right tackle, and the only option is to insert the swing guy, Calvin Anderson. 

Right Tackle

Massie is tied for relinquishing the seventh-most pressures with 20 and is tied for second-most sacks allowed with four. That doesn't even get into his consistent issues in the running game, where the Broncos can't get anything going when attacking behind him. 

Center

As for the interior offensive line, the play so far has been particularly rough this season. Lloyd Cushenberry III has not grown as a center and continues to be a problem when handling strength or power from defensive linemen. With his inability to get any push in the run game and surrendering the third-most pressures, the Broncos must consider a change. 

The best option for the Broncos would be to slide right guard Graham Glasgow over to center. Glasgow has experience there, and his issues at guard could be covered up when working at center. 

In addition, Glasgow's high football IQ would benefit the Broncos more with him at center which is an aspect Cushenberry has also struggled to master as far as pre-snap reads and recognizing how opponents are attacking Denver. 

Right Guard

That would require filling the right guard spot with someone else, which would depend on how comfortable a couple of other young players would be working at the position. For example, would Dalton Risner or Quinn Meinerz be comfortable working on the right side? 

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Meinerz was a left guard in college, and Risner has experience playing on the right side as a tackle in college. Switching sides isn't easy for a lineman, and you want to make sure the player is comfortable. 

Left Guard

So the idea is to have your two guards be Meinerz on the left and Risner on the right — each playing where they're most comfortable. The reason for that is, the second-year Netane Muti has been the worst guard for the Broncos to take the field, and it's clear he isn't quite ready to be a starter. 

However, in his limited action in relief of Risner at left guard, Meinerz played exceptionally well and his physical play style resonated with the Broncos' offensive line. The rookie's one start gave the Broncos' O-line their best game as run blockers. However, with how soft the line has looked, Denver needs to have Meinerz's attitude out there on the field in hopes it'll catch on by osmosis.

Risner has had his issues as a run blocker, but his pass protection has been solid. That gives him the edge over Muti, who has struggled a lot in both aspects. In only 95 pass protection snaps, Muti has allowed the third-most pressures on the team. 

Setting Expectations

Now, it's unlikely the Broncos will make such sweeping changes even though it's staring them in the face. The team would have three or four moving pieces on its line, which you don't typically want without injuries playing a part. 

However, this team's issues upfront have been so bad that the coaches have to be looking at possible changes. The Broncos don't have many options waiting in the wings, but you can't get worse than what they've been putting out there so the downside risk is minimal. 

The Prime Starting Five

The offensive line would look like this left to right: Bolles (LT)-Meinerz (LG)-Glasgow (C)-Risner (RG)-Anderson (RT). It'd be a good mix of veterans next to youth to help them out in-game and would give the Broncos a good balance between solid run blockers and solid pass protectors. 

The time to make such changes would be after Denver's Thursday night game against the Cleveland Browns. After that, the Broncos have a mini-bye week to get everyone ready to go. 

Whatever happens, as badly as this team needs to make coaching changes, shaking up the offensive line absolutely has to happen soon if the Broncos want to forestall this season going completely down the drain. 


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