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Horse Tracks: The O-Line is talking and we're listening

If the offensive linemen are addressing the media, it's a good bet they must feel a need to go on the defensive with the public and not just an opposing team. And after the way they've played of late, they would be right.

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Good morning, Broncos Country!

I'm doing a little happy dance over here, and you want to know why?

  • Raiders won (don't ask, I know it was hard for all of you too);
  • Champ is a Bronco (and he took to social media to talk to fans!);
  • It's been five days since that game against the Ra... (wait, who did we play again?);
  • It's finally almost the next game.

Oh, and...

  • the Broncos O-Line spoke to the media.

What?

You heard that right.

You know something's up in Broncos Country when the Big Uglies are talking to reporters.

Mark Schlereth's comments earlier in the week that the Broncos' offensive line was "horrendous" must have gotten their attention.

The former Pro Bowl offensive lineman-turned-analyst added that giving an F grade to the line would be "kind."

"I watch every game of every team every week. It's bad technique-wise, athleticism-wise, toughness-wise," he said.

Ouch.

But the members of our O-Line insist they know they have a lot to work on and comments from Schlereth and others don't upset them.

At least that's what they're saying publicly.

And if the promises to better this week aren't just rhetoric, it means Sunday's game should actually be a contest rather than a migraine.

Which is excellent because if there is a game this offensive line needs to be darn near perfect, it could be this one.

Miami has possibly the best overall defense in the league, and the Broncos have no games left where they can afford to keep tinkering with the line.

"This whole group, they are really good," offensive coordinator Adam Gase said of the Dolphins defense. "They are good on the back end, the linebacking corps is playing excellent and that front is tough. It's going to be a challenge for us this weekend. They are not the second-ranked defense in the NFL for no reason. They've been playing really well, especially lately."

Well, that's just great.

Orlando Franklin, who switched from playing right tackle his entire career to left guard this year, says it's going to come down to playing angry.

We play angry every week. I'm an offensive lineman. I'm going to play angry every week.    -Orlando Franklin

"We play angry every week. It doesn't really matter," Franklin said. "I'm an offensive lineman. I'm going to play angry every week. I'm pretty sure all my teammates try to do the exact same thing."

Angry or not, Ryan Clady admitted they just have to play better to have a chance against this Dolphins' defense.

"If we go, the team goes," Clady said. "We definitely need to improve. We had a bad week. I think we'll get better, and we'll get it back on track."

We definitely need to improve. We had a bad week. I think we'll get better and get back on track.  -Ryan Clady, Tackle

Part of getting on track is communication - something that takes time no matter what, but is definitely harder when you switch positions around mid-season. It also accounts for the Broncos' league high 87 penalties so far.

"Communication is really important," said Will Montgomery, who is new to the Broncos this year and only a starter for the past few games.

"We want to make sure we're picking up all their stunts and blitzes, and whatever guys they have blitzing, we want to pick them all up and let [Manning] have time to throw the ball."

Some insight into Montgomery's move to the starting center over Manny Ramirez could be his communication with Manning.

"He has a really nice calm, collected air about him," Montgomery said of The Sheriff. "I'll make a ‘Mike' point and if he doesn't like it he changes it. He gets us in the right play so you know that you've just got 100 percent confidence behind you and you feel really confident with what he's doing."

Ramirez acknowledged that overall communication is still a pretty big adjustment.

"It's definitely not where we want it to be, but it's a work-in-progress," said the former center, who switched to guard two weeks ago.

Ramirez added that communication also involves supporting each other, especially right now as the line is taking so much heat from analysts, fans and coaches.

"We can't allow ourselves to worry about that type of stuff. We've just got to make sure we stick together and continue to put our heads down and continue to grind and be able to go with whatever we're given," he said. "We know we're good enough to be able to go out there with any lineup that we have because I feel like that's the type of depth we have on the O-Line. We've just got to make it work."

Yes, please make it work. Please. Not be dramatic (well, OK, to be dramatic) - the season may just be riding on "it" working.

Immediately after the loss and throughout the week, Peyton Manning had claimed the bulk of responsibility for last week's meltdown against the Rams.

But his offensive line knows they have to step up and be accountable too.

"Every single offensive lineman is going to get beat, but just knowing the type of quarterback that we have back there and he has the confidence in us that we're going to get the job done does make you feel good," Ramirez said. "But at the same time, as much as he takes care of us, we have to take care of him. Whether it's him getting rid of the ball real quick and the times that he has to hold it, we have to be able to man up and stand our blocks a little bit longer."

Offensive coordinator Adam Gase jumped on the accountability train late in the week too, admitting that running the ball more and calling a better game will give the team a better shot, particularly the line and its QB.

The first thing I can do is run the ball more. I can call some better plays to make sure we put ourselves in a third-and-manageable.    -Adam Gase, offensive coordinator

"The first thing I can do is run the ball more," Gase said about how he could help the O-line. "Last game probably was very telling in that aspect, of giving them more of a chance and allowing those guys to tee off a little bit instead of being on their heels so much. So I'd say that is probably the No. 1 thing."

A close No. 2 would be better plays, and Gase acknowledged as much.

"I can call some better plays to make sure we put ourselves in a third-and-manageable [distance]," Gase said, admitting that mixing up plays is not really his strength. "That is probably the hardest thing for me to make sure I'm mixing it up and constantly trying to keep the defensive coordinator guessing so he can't get a read on it."

But he also hinted that it's impossible to plan too much because there's no way to know what's going to happen in a game.

"It's hard to go into a game and say we are just going to do this. So we have to see how this game is going to go, script what you're thinking early but it can change really fast," Gase said. "We've gotten 10, 12 plays deep in what we thought we had planned and then we've gotten about three plays in and had to change course. We have to see how it's going to be on that day. It's hard to predict this far out."

I hope I'm the only one who thinks that sounds like a terrible approach. Hopefully I'm missing some genius in there.Flexibility is good, but that sounded a little too unplanned and unprepared for me. But with Manning on the field, even Gase has admitted the quarterback has gotten him out of some bad calls.

"Having Peyton really helps because he can get you out of bad plays when you call them," Gase said. "That is what he does so well and that is probably the one thing that I've been able to count on if I do call a bad play instead of him running it, he fixes it and makes sure we get a good play."

Whatever those plays are this weekend, they're going to have to be effective because the Dolphins are salivating at the chance to do what several teams have done this season - prove the Broncos offense is, in fact, fallible.

"They're a great front, a Top-10 defense," said Clady. "It is definitely another challenge for us, and I think we're ready to step up to the plate."

Let's hope so. I can't take another game like last week.

But it is a home game and nothing can encourage a team to win better than Mile High fans...and uh, hopefully a no-room-for-screwing-up attack mentality about the game.

Horse Tracks:

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