Dalton Risner could not be a better ambassador for the Broncos - or for humanity for that matter.
The rookie left guard - who by literally everyone’s measure has Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame potential - joined Ryan Edwards and Ben Allbright for their usual live show at Buffalo Wild Wings Monday night, and it is a fabulous listen.
From insights about Mike Munchak to Risner’s confidence in the offensive line continuing to improve to his view of why he was put on this earth, the full interview is worth your time.
But here are my favorite highlights.
Typical conversation with Coach Munchak during film review after the game:
Risner is clearly playing beyond his years as a rookie, but he credits Mike Munchak for really “slowing the game down” for him and explaining how to improve his technique.
MM: Say Dalton, did you win right there?
DR: No. No I didn’t.
MM: Were you doing the technique I coached you?
DR: No sir, I wasn’t.
MM: Dalton, did you win there?
DR: Yes sir.
MM: Did you do the technique I coached you?
DR: Yes sir, I did.
“So, he does a good job of letting me know that if I stick to what he teaches me, I’ll be successful in the NFL. Credit to him. I think he’s going to help me grow a lot over the years.”
Edwards joked about whether he’d hear from Munchak today regarding his “ineligible pass downfield” penalty in the fourth quarter on the drive that pushed the Broncos back five yards a few plays before Brandon McManus missed a 54-yard field goal - and there was zero hesitation from Risner.
“Are you kidding me? I heard a lot of it on the sideline, but I’m sure I’ll hear a lot more of it Tuesday,” he laughed. “I ran up three yards and then out, and what you’re supposed to do is go lateral and then up. The good offensive linemen have the patience to not go upfield.”
Communication on the offensive line?
With a brand new head coach, OL coach, quarterback, scheme - and a brand new city and team for a host of players, Risner reiterated that it takes time to get on the same page - but it’s happening.
“The good teams in NFL are the teams that mold together the most and gel together. Coach Munchak talks all the time that the great teams might not be the always the most talented, but they’re the teams that understand each other without having to talk about it. When you’re on the road, you don’t have time to say ‘Hey, what are you doing? ‘Where are you going to be at this moment?’ ‘How do you want this block?’ ‘What hole are you going to hit?’ You’ve got to get to know each other, and I think you can see it in this team as we get to know each other better and better.”
Later in the interview, Risner talked specifically with how that communication has to play out for the line - and ultimately the offense - to be successful.
“It’s me learning how Garett Bolles plays. It’s Garett Bolles learning how I play and when I’m going to be there to help him. It’s me realizing when Connor McGovern, my center, is going to need my help. It’s me realizing that when it’s an away game, and he’s talking to the right side, I have to be the center for the left side. It’s Connor McGovern and Ron Leary establishing their relationship. It’s Elijah Wilkinson getting familiar with Ron Leary while Ju’Wuan James is down. I think we saw a huge imporvement in L.A. Anytime you run for 200 yards, as an offensive line, you’re doing what you need to.”
Locker room after first win?
While much of Broncos Country was going nuts over the Broncos’ first win of 2019 (yes, my hand is raised), Risner said it was not a big celebration in the locker room because the team knew it shouldn’t have been the first one.
“We were not excited we beat the L.A. Chargers on the road. We should have beaten the Bears at home. We should have beaten the Jaguars at home. We could have beaten the Packers on the road. We’re a good football team,” he said. “It made me happy to see our locker room. I’m glad we weren’t hooting and hollering and jumping up and down like we won the Super Bowl. It tells me that this team is not happy how we started and we’re not going to get complacent.”
On Broncos Country expecting 5-0
As a kid growing up a Broncos fan in Wiggins, Colorado, Risner probably understands this fan base better than anyone on the team. He knows the expectations are “to be great” and he is totally OK with that.
He also assured fans that the team will be getting better every week and the wins started in Los Angeles.
“I know what it is and growing up I was part of that. I yelled at the TV many a time. I was with the Broncos through the Kyle Orton days and the Jake Plummer days and the Tim Tebow days. I grew up watching this team. ...I know the expectation this city has, and don’t get me wrong, the fans are great through wins and losses, but when you’re losing, you can feel the pressure. They expect you to win and it makes me smile that I’m part of that.”
On community efforts and his foundation, RisnerUp:
Risner is no stranger to working in the local community, something he’s been doing since his college football days, but he loves getting involved with the Broncos community efforts and he makes no bones about the fact that his priority is not playing football - it’s being a kind person and using his platform as an NFL player to show that.
Like I said before - an ambassador for humanity.
“I think we all need to be more like these Special Olympians that are out here today. They’re so kind to each other.”— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 8, 2019
Today, we teamed up with @United Airlines to congratulate @RHSExcellence on being named the @SpecOlympicsCO Hall of Fame School of the Year! pic.twitter.com/bEVtfgrZFT
On coaches, teammates heaping praise on him:
From Joe Flacco talking about Risner’s football IQ on the field to Rich Scangarello complimenting his “feel for the game” already and Phillip Lindsay talking about his incredible leadership and “the dog” in him, there is no shortage of praise for the rookie who desperately wanted to be a Bronco since he was a kid.
“Man, it brings a smile to my face - especially from my teammates. I love hearing coaches, but at the end of the day to hear the running back I block for talk about me like that it means a lot. To hear Joe Flacco - someone I watched in middle school - that’s unbelievable. That’s hard work paid off.”
On Mike Munchak being funny:
Apparently the Hall-of-Fame offensive line coach has quite the sense of humor.
“The most dry-humored person you’d ever meet. It’s actually extremely funny. A lot of times, he’s making fun of you - especially me. He fines me pretty much every single day. He loves to give me crap.”