Fangio on Broncos switching Dalton Risner to offensive tackle: 'That could be a possible move'
Right now, the Denver Broncos are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the offensive tackle position. The team's prized free-agent acquisition — right tackle Ja'Wuan James — promptly went down with a knee injury 10 plays into the regular-season opener.
Meanwhile, the Broncos' starting left tackle — Garett Bolles — was penalized a whopping and unbelievable five times in the team's 16-14 loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 2. The Broncos have tried to roll with the punches, replacing James at right tackle with Elijah Wilkinson and calling up Jake Rodgers from the practice squad to serve as the swing tackle.
The injury bug has been unforgiving but Wilkinson wasn't the problem in Week 2. It was Bolles — the former first-round pick.
One solution I've spitballed on the Huddle Up Podcast, and one many fans are pining for, could be to move rookie left guard Dalton Risner to one of the tackle spots and bench Bolles in the short-term. At least, anyway, until James is healed up from his knee.
However, with the Broncos stubbornly sticking with Bolles in Sunday's loss to the Bears, despite four of his five holding fouls coming in the first half alone, it was hard to say whether the team is even viewing the possible moving of Risner as a viable option. On Monday, following the game, head coach Vic Fangio confirmed that moving Risner to tackle is a topic that has at least been broached internally.
“That could be a possible move," Fangio said Mondsay, "but it’s one of the reasons we brought Rodgers up to not have to do that move.”
It's understandable why the Broncos are resisting the temptation to move Risner. One, he's a rookie and already has enough on his plate. Two, through two games, Risner has easily been the Broncos' best offensive lineman, so why tempt fate or upset that particular apple cart?
It depends entirely on how urgent the Broncos deem the Bolles situation. If Sunday's embarrassing penalty-laden performance was a one-time anomaly, that would be one thing. But since entering the NFL in 2017, Bolles has been the most penalized offensive lineman in the league.
This isn't a new development. If the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, we can expect Bolles to continue to cost the Broncos drives and hold this offense back.
The hope was that Mike Munchak could salvage the Broncos' former first-rounder but the proof is already in the pudding. If Bolles is outside of Munchak's grasp, the Broncos have to know they've really got a problem.
Meanwhile, Risner is a proven tackle. That's where he spent the majority of his collegiate career at Kansas State. At right tackle, he was an impenetrable wall, not allowing a single sack and only a handful of pressures in his final two years at K-State, where he started all games.
Only time will tell how the Broncos ultimately choose to handle the Bolles situation but if the team sticks with the status quo, this season could spiral out of control quickly for a beleaguered offense still striving to establish cohesion and an identity.
Something tells me that the Broncos won't make a change until Ja'Wuan James returns from the sideline. In the meantime, though, the Broncos risk Bolles derailing every single drive Joe Flacco and Rich Scangarello put together.