Good morning, Broncos Country!
I was wrong.
And never have I been happier to admit that. But this isn’t about me, it’s about a young man who didn’t listen to the doubters like me.
Garett Bolles is one of the best left tackles in the NFL. You could make the argument he is the best left tackle in the NFL. There was both hope and doubt that he would stay in Denver. The latter seemed to overpower the two sentiments.
John Elway and the Denver Broncos removed all doubt when they rewarded Bolles in a major way. The Broncos signed him to a four-year, $68 million contract extension that was announced on Saturday afternoon. According to Mike Klis, Bolles is now the fourth-highest paid tackle in the NFL at $17 million per year.
All it took was a relentless belief in himself and a desire to become the best, no matter what. It’s truly a remarkable story, and Bolles deserves all of it.
As Bolles said earlier this week to the media:
“I needed time. I’m extremely grateful for (Vic) Fangio. I know he’s talked to you guys about how he’s grateful to just let me go in there and learn from my mistakes. A player that hasn’t played a lot of football or a rookie that’s come into the league, he needs reps. He needs repetition. He needs to see what will be thrown at him. He might not pick it up early on in his career but the longer that he’s in there — it’s sort of like that death by fire type of thing — you’re out there, guys are smoking you and you’re falling on the ground and you think to yourself, ‘Hey, I can either get up and strap my helmet on more and do it again or I can take my helmet off and I can walk out the door.’ That’s really your options. So, over the years I’ve learned I’m that type of fighter. I might fall in a hole but I’m that type of fighter that’s going to climb that ladder and get myself out of the hole. I pride myself on that and I’m going to continue to do that because that’s what a father is, that’s what a husband is to provide for the family, and that’s what a man does for his job that he loves dearly. I’m a fighter. I never give up and I’m just going to continue to do what I need to do to help this team win.”
As Bolles talked with the media, before the extension, he was asked some great questions. Such as the one that made all of this come to life.
What was the turning point that made him focus on the technical side of blocking rather than just relying on his athleticism?
“That’s a good question. I just watched film. Like I’ve said before, I really think I’ve just watched film over the years and really realized, ‘Hey, why am I continuing to make the same mistakes?’ I know last year I told you all I’m not going to change how I play. What I meant there is that I’m not going to change my mentality of being a dog out there. I’ll never change that mentality at all. What I did need to change is how I saw things and how I placed my hands and how I moved my feet, how I keep my shoulders and my numbers square for two kick slides or how I take two kick slides, pause, and get on my guy. Those were the things I had to learn, and it took time. Like I said, when I first got here, I hadn’t played left tackle for a long time so I had to learn by trial and error. Once I realized that and once I realized, ‘Hey, look at all the good reps I’m doing,’ and, ‘OK, why am I having 50-50 or 75 bad ones and 20 good ones, why?’ I really had to dial it in in the offseason, watch film, get to the people that helped me in the offseason. Talked with (Mike) Munchak to really figure out what it was, and I figured it out. I shouldn’t say I’ve figured it out yet because I still think I have a long way to go, but I still think I’m on the right track of becoming great. That’s what makes me proud of myself and what makes me proud of everyone that’s stepped up with me and given me the love that I needed. That’s why I love this organization, Coach Fangio has put up with me, Coach Munchak, Coach (Pat) Shurmur — I’ve talked to all those guys. My teammates, they just continue to encourage me to be the best. I’m thankful for every single person that’s always been there with me through thick and thin and now where I’m at, I’m just grateful to be here. I know that I have a long way to go but I know I’m on the right track.”
Now that Bolles has been extended and is one of the highest-paid tackles in the NFL, the Broncos have checked off a major area of need. Even better, Denver may have the best left tackle situation in the NFL. Keep in mind, he can get even better, and he’ll have the motivation to make that happen. Doubt him if you dare.
Bolles has busted his ass to get here and didn’t let the doubters like me ever sway his belief in himself. As noted earlier, he deserves all of this. It’s a remarkable story, and in a year that we haven’t had many of those, it makes this a little sweeter.
Never have I been happier to say that I was wrong.
“I want to be the best. That’s just my motto. I want to be the best tackle to ever play this game. That’s just something I’ve always prided myself on, but at the same time I want to take it slowly, I want to embrace what’s happening. Every game is a challenge, every single week, somebody can get you — you can give up a sack, you can give up a pressure, and my goal is to not give up any of those. I’ve talked to a lot of mentors of mine that play tackle in this league, and they just continue to tell me to keep the fire and keep doing what you’re doing, and that’s my goal. But really, I’m just trying to finish the season strong. Like I said before, I’ve had rocky years here and my goal is just to be a consistent player that Mr. Elway and this organization can count on for many years. I want to be here for a long time — I love the city, I love this fan base, my teammates, I love everything about here and I just want to win. So, my motto is to win and do everything I can because if I’m sloppy out there, Drew Lock can’t throw the ball. If I’m playing my high level that I am, then Drew can move the ball and do his thing. I pride myself with that. If I can continue to play consistent football, then we’re going to win games.”
Each Saturday, I do a segment on Denver radio station ESPN 1600 AM. This week, my key for Denver is to get the running game going. With how good the New Orleans defense is, that’s not an easy task. The guys also discuss the matchup between Sean Payton and Fangio.
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