Garett Bolles spent the majority of his first three years as a pro as Broncos Country's whipping boy. And for good reason.
Bolles was among the league leaders in drawing penalties over that three-year span. However, as the Denver Broncos' first-round pick in 2017, the team stayed patient instead of hitting the panic button, focusing on getting Bolles the coaching and tutelage he needed to develop.
Six games into the 2020 season, it's safe to say that Bolles has turned the ship around. He hasn't allowed a QB pressure in two-straight games and currently sits as the highest-graded offensive tackle in the NFL per Pro Football Focus, taking home an elite 91.2 cumulative grade.
GM John Elway is reaping the rewards for his patience and long-suffering with regard to Bolles and recognizes the strides the left tackle has made.
"You know, Garett has done a nice job," Elway told Phil Milani of the team website earlier this week. "With the criticism that he took last year, to come back to have the year that he's had so far, he's been tremendous. Hopefully, he can continue to do that."
Bolles started off last season rocky but really stabilized down the stretch, especially once Drew Lock was inserted as the starting quarterback. One of the offseason's predominant questions was whether Bolles' improvement would last, especially in the wake of the Broncos opting not to exercise his fifth-year option.
Bolles has not only continued to play well, he's taken the proverbial quantum leap forward. Elway credits Bolles for putting in the work to improve, while also acknowledging that the coaching influence has had an effect, as well as the scheme.
"We're doing a better job [of] helping him, as far as with the tight ends and those type of things," Elway said, "and so I think that's helped his confidence, too. I think another year under Garett's belt, with Mike Munchak and Chris Kuper, that's helped him tremendously, too."
Munchak and Kuper arrived together on the Broncos' coaching staff in 2019 and though it took some time, the duo kept pounding that rock until it finally cracked. They've done a phenomenal job with Bolles and deserve a lot of credit.
But so does Bolles, who put in the necessary work, especially during the offseason during the COVID-19 lockdowns, required to study the film, hone his NFL body, and polish his technique. No doubt, the NFL's more-lax officiating, specifically when it comes to withholding the yellow laundry on holding, has helped, but it's not the only explanation to Bolles' improvement.
Turn on the tape and you'll see that the left tackle's play matches the grades and advanced analytics. Hats off to Bolles. Just through six games this season, he's made himself a pile of money this year. If he can finish these final 10 games as strongly as he started off the year, life-changing money awaits for Clan Bolles in 2021.
The road doesn't get much easier with the ferocious edge-rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram coming to town this week as the Broncos host the Los Angeles Chargers. Bolles will have to play this game without Munchak on the field, as the O-line coach was placed in COVID-19 protocol earlier this week.