Major issues along the Denver Broncos offensive line have derailed the team's chances at success all season long. Once again, early on against the Detroit Lions, the Broncos fell behind 10-0 and the yellow flags were once again flying in the direction of the usual suspects on Denver's O-line.
As if to compound the woes of head coach Vic Fangio, rookie left guard Dalton Risner succumbed to an illness that had plagued him all week, while right tackle Elijah Wilkinson limped out of the lineup early in the second quarter. Fangio and his offensive line guru Mike Munchak have been searching for solutions to poor play upfront all season long and it took a very perilous deep dive into the depth chart to find one.
“I’ve never been involved in a game whether it be my team or the opponent’s team when it ever ran out of offensive linemen,” Fangio said in the aftermath of the Broncos' 27-17 win.
What happens next for the Broncos and Drew Lock? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Take a second and sign up for our free newsletter and get breaking Broncos news delivered to your inbox daily!
The fact was, the Broncos came very close to running out of healthy bodies to man the positions along the O-line, which makes the successful result even more surprising and welcome. Blasting open holes for Phillip Lindsay to rush for 109 yards and a game-clinching score from 27 yards out was notable, as was keeping rookie QB Drew Lock sack-free all day long.
“It was kind of ironic that we started to move the ball when we had to put the two offensive linemen in [G/C Patrick] Morris and [T Jake] Rodgers,” Fangio commented.
Both Pat Morris and Jake Rodgers were awarded a game ball in the Broncos' locker room by Fangio. Not a bad way to punctuate what was a 2019 debut for both O-line backups.
Lock’s added abilities to scramble and throw on the run all serve to aid his O-line substantially, but the grunt work done by the big boys opening up the holes for Lindsay and Royce Freeman impressed the rapidly emerging superstar QB on Sunday.
“I thought they played their butts off,” Lock said post-game. “You look at it, new O-line in there, you don’t think we are going to run. It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious there, and we ended up being able to pound the ball with those new guys in there. They did an awesome job.”
Finding some answers for the future might be the most important thing for the ongoing team rebuild that is likely to use a large portion of GM John Elway’s future draft capital on the O-line. Maybe the long-held belief that Munchak’s coaching prowess can turn the unit around is finally coming to fruition with the backups stepping up and executing well.
“We ran our offense," Fangio said. "We didn’t have to make any makeshift adjustments because of those two guys being in there. Our credit has to go to those guys."
Lindsay now stands only 42 yards away from reaching another landmark 1,000-yard season, which means the rag-tag blockers could be called on again to get him over the hump next week. At the very least, the big uglies are showing the under-performing starters how it really should be done.