Evidence Emerges Suggesting Drew Lock Turned Garett Bolles Around

Chad Jensen

Despite the addition of venerated O-line Coach Mike Munchak, Garett Bolles got out to a maddeningly inconsistent 2019 season. The Denver Broncos' starting left tackle was the same old recidivist perpetrator of mindless holding penalties. 

Although Bolles didn't give up a lot of sacks, or an inordinate number of QB pressures, the oblivious lack of situational awareness he displayed his first two years in the league persisted through the first three-quarters of the season. Then something remarkable happened. 

Drew Lock was inserted as the starting quarterback in Week 13, and while Bolles wasn't a perfect angel when it came to drawing the ire and attention of officials with the yellow laundry, the left tackle suddenly looked... competent. GM John Elway, in the relative blink of an eye, no longer looked foolish or misguided for investing a first-round draft pick in Bolles. 

A recent tweet from Pro Football Focus highlighted the obvious; Lock's insertion as the starter for the remaining five games turned Bolles around. 

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My use of PFF's grades here is not meant to endorse them as the be-all, end-all. After all, I've been critical of PFF's, at times, extremely arbitrary grading system. 

Rather, I'm using this tweet to illustrate that it wasn't just Mile High Huddle that said Bolles played better down the stretch and to show that, in this particular case, the grades match both the tape and the results in the standings and box score. 

Bolles gave up just five pressures and one sack from Week 11 on. He would finish the 2019 season having been credited with relinquishing four sacks and 31 QB pressures, although he would finish second among offensive linemen in penalties with 17. 

Bolles' improvement down the stretch went to prove the old adage that a team will know when it finds the right quarterback by virtue of that quarterback being the tide that raises all ships. The truth is, Bolles was vastly helped by Lock's quick release, elusiveness, and pocket feel. 

It's amazing how the right QB can take the pressure squarely off an extremely beleaguered offensive tackle. 

What it Means

Although the Broncos were encouraged by Bolles' steps forward, it wasn't enough to completely assuage the team brass of their misgivings. As a 2017 first-round pick, the Broncos held the prerogative of picking up a fifth year on Bolles' rookie contract. 

The Broncos declined it, which means Bolles is now entering the final year of his contract. The good news is, with Lock poised to reprise his role as the starting QB, Bolles stands to benefit greatly in a crucial contract year. 

The Broncos will be watching closely to see whether Coach Munchak's influence can continue to take hold in Bolles. It's not outside the realm of the possible that the last five games of last season were a harbinger of positive things to come for Bolles and a sign that with Lock in the fold, he's finally turned a corner. 

Only time will tell. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

THANKS FOR READING MILE HIGH HUDDLE
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Comments (20)
No. 1-15
Lance Sanderson
Lance Sanderson

I've been trying to say this for a long time now, even prior to our defense of Bolles on DVDD a little over a month ago. Giving Bolles a competent QB that knows how to manipulate pressure and step up in the pocket is going to really help him. I also firmly believe that landing Graham Glasgow was the most underrated acquisition the Broncos made this off-season. Lloyd Cushenberry is a nice get as well. Solidifying the interior of the OL and giving Lock a clean pocket to step up WILL make Bolles better.

And people are going to eat massive helpings of crow when he does.

Mc Dad
Mc Dad

I don't think bolles is as trash as most broncos fans make it out to be. He seems to be a scapegoat. If you look at him and tunsil the sacks allowed, pressures are all extremely similar and bolles plays a lot more snaps than tunsil. Yet one is praised as a god among tackles and the other as trash. Maybe, just maybe the broncos qb's were the garbage cans

Frankiebaby74
Frankiebaby74

You're absolutely right about G.Bolles .Time is the factor n his endurance n his strength to proof that he can the man for the LT for the future or a flab for Mr.RJ.Elwa y fifth round pick while back So the bottom line will G.Bolles be that guy in 2020-future or be cut for a future LT or have another that is in 53roster n convert him to a LT .Just possiblity or not .This is my opinion n no one else . Let's Go Broncos!!!🙏🙏🙏we hope that he will do improve this year without penalties n not hurting our Bronco Country n our team especially if they gain more yardage or the first down they just accomplish on the play they just did.Let's 🙏🙏🤙👍👌.

smilinassassin
smilinassassin

On one hand you have PFF panning Drew Lock. On the other, you have PFF grading out Bolles as one of the top tackles in the league after Lock’s insertion. By their metrics, I guess we’d just have to believe that Bolles spontaneously improved his play down the stretch and helped make Lock look better. Am I doing this right?

CharlieBeagle
CharlieBeagle

Good left tackles are seldom in abundant quantity in any draft and they weren't the year he was drafted. And from what I've heard he killed it at the pre-draft combine.
That was possibly one of the worst overall Bronco drafts ever, Bolles and the perennially injured Jake Butt are the only 2 players left from that debacle and Butt will probably soon be a memory. Like any Broncos fan I've winced every time a big play was called back and the words "Holding, number 72" echo through the stadium
but I do think having Lock there will make him better and right now he's our best option. I wish you wouldn't continue to indulge a certain commenter on the podcast that thinks he's terribly clever with his third grade toilet Bolles jokes. It's not all that funny. I realize you have to acknowledge these superchat people that give you money but I wish you wouldn't encourage him.

Letswin17
Letswin17

Lock Away Wart Removal

Have you got a big ugly LT wart? If so, then run to your nearest pharmacy, and get your supply of Lock Away Wart Removal.

Expand your Mind
Expand your Mind

I remember when Khalil Mack tee'd off on Bolles and no coach adjusted to move protection or chip with a tight end. Vance Joseph was fired shortly after.

broncofan55555
broncofan55555

If the Broncos had taken Ryan Ramczyk instead of Garrett Bolles and George Kittle instead of Jake Butt, what a different situation the team would be in right now. In hindsight, I am sure that Elway would make those decisions. Can you imagine a team with Fant and Kittle in the TE room together?

EdJL
EdJL

There were a few things that helped Bolles down the stretch. Although the Chiefs in KC was the hardest game of the season, the others were relatively easier. Also, the Broncos were playing with the lead for most of the time (or at least weren't down double digits). Lastly, the game planning was better. They were designing low risk plays to not expose their rookie QB and it worked. However, I'd be very surprised to see Bolles in a Bronco uniform in 2021. Either he will continue to be himself or he'll perform and will be too expensive to bring back seeing all of the other consistent players with contacts that will expire in 21 and 22.

KeithCummings
KeithCummings

For sure having drew back there obviously helped but over a full season it can worryingly level out. Peters still remains unsigned!!

Denverkewl
Denverkewl

When Elway said his penalties were unacceptable he meant it. While folks say Bolles improved I saw him messing up his sets and poor form with Lock as well. Only this time, the play went away from him to the right, pass complete... But Bolles play in isolation sucked. I think they canceled his option because on fundamentals he wasn't responding to coaching, inconsistent play and 17 penalties called. They needed to put him in a contract year to find out. So, they kept him and didn't really bring anyone in because they also know what Chad says is true - the Offense and Lock will make his game better and good enough to run with for now. Nothing is promised next year.

Donkeys
Donkeys

I miss the days of a healthy clady

Thundersvictorylap
Thundersvictorylap

What I saw was a video clip at the end of last season, where Bolles, in his presser said, "Hey, Sorry, but, I'm never going to change, and never improve my technique, because I play best when I'm just being myself." I found that mind blowing. It was just before he got his option denied. I'm sure that if Munchak, Elway, & Fangio already knew this, they knew this would be his last year here. If true, that video shows a player way too immature to play starting LT, for the Broncos in 2021.

Tonyrains
Tonyrains

I watched Lock for 4 years at Mizzou. Josh Heipel was his OC for two of those seasons and he ran a lightening fast offense. Lock learned to get the ball out in a HURRY! It helped the oline limit penalties and sacks. I think that's a really overlooked part of his game. The other thing he usually did pretty well was when he couldn't find an open receiver he just threw it away instead of throwing a back breaking int. He wasn't perfect though and he did occasionally make a dumb pass. He never threw to wr's that could get separation from good SEC db's and would constantly win 50-50 balls. Jeudy and Sutton are going to make Lock look really good.

Free_Thinker
Free_Thinker

Bolles played a lot better without a statue for a QB behind him.


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