As it stands right now, the Denver Broncos are the worst pass blocking team in the league - at least according to pro-football-reference.com. Right now the Broncos are allowing pressure on 30.7 percent of dropbacks which is far and away the worst value in the league. The Panthers are second worst at 28.3 percent. The Bucs are the best at 11.1 percent and it’s not close with the Rams coming in second at 15.1 percent.
This saddens me partly because I saw it coming when the Broncos failed to invest any draft capital in the offensive tackle position AGAIN in 2021. According to PFR, Denver has the worst pass blocking OL in the league and it's not even close. pic.twitter.com/EhOd63VPp3— Joseph Mahoney (@ndjomo76) December 17, 2021
That’s the macro level. On the individual player level, SIS datahub has some really nice information showing how many pass blocking snaps and how many “blown blocks” individual pass blockers for the Broncos have had. Their data goes back to the 2016 season (and it’s free to access).
|2021||PB Snaps||Blown Blocks||Sacks Allowed||PBB %||Holding|
According to SIS, our worst pass blocking starter on the OL in 2021 is Garret Bolles with a passing blown block rate (PBB percentage) of 4.3 percent. Note that Calvin Anderson and Quinn Bailey have been worse, but on significantly fewer pass blocking snaps.
I decided to look back at how our 2021 offensive line is compared to the lines we’ve had post-Super Bowl victory.
|2016||PB Snaps||Blown Blocks||Sacks Allowed||PBB %||Holding|
The 2016 offensive line apparently was quite good at pass blocking outside of Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo. I was surprised to find that Stephenson was ONLY “credited” with 19 blown blocks that year in pass protection. That being said, Sambrailo had a ridiculous 15 on only 116 pass blocking snaps - he also allowed eight sacks on those 116 snaps. Sambrailo was failing on one of every eight pass blocking snaps in 2016. He also had three holding penalties on those pass blocking snaps.
|2017||PB Snaps||Blown Blocks||Sacks Allowed||PBB %||Holding|
As bad Sambrailo was in 2016, Stephenson tried to match him in 2017. While Stephenson only allowed three sacks on his 151 pass blocking snaps, he had 18 blown blocks on those 151 and was second on the team in blown blocks on passing snaps despite having about one fourth of the total pass block snaps (Garett Bolles who had 28 on 619). Menelik Watson couldn’t let Stephenson have all the fun though; Watson had 17 blown blocks on 241 pass blocking snaps and allowed at team-high nine sacks to add the cherry on top. Our best pass blocking offensive lineman in 2017 was Ronald Leary who only had five blown blocks on 404 pass block snaps.
|2018||PB Snaps||Blown Blocks||Sacks Allowed||PBB %||Holding|
2018 was a good year for pass protection with our worst offensive lineman, Bolles, only having a PBB percentage of 4.4 percent. Matt Paradis was playing really well that year prior to his injury. By SIS, he only had one blown block in pass protection on 297 snaps.
|2019||PB Snaps||Blown Blocks||Sacks Allowed||PBB %||Holding|
2019 was another decent year although Elijah Wilkinson got exploited more once he was forced back into the starting lineup by Juwuan James’ injuries. Wilkinson only had 21 blown pass blocks but he allowed ten sacks. He holds the distinction of being the only Bronco offensive lineman during this stretch to allow double digit sacks. Connor McGovern, Dalton Risner and Leary were generally quite strong in pass protection with only 22 blown blocks between the three of them, or the one more than Wilkinson had all by himself.
This brings us to last season.
|2020||PB Snaps||Blown Blocks||Sacks Allowed||PBB %||Holding|
In 2020 the weakest link in pass protection was undoubtedly Lloyd Cushenberry who allowed six sacks and had 20 blown blocks. He did however play every offensive snap as a rookie without a real training camp or preseason games. So maybe we should cut him some slack. He has been playing better this season with only seven blown blocks in pass protection so far this year. That being said he has allowed four sacks, but he is not alone there. Graham Glasgow and Bobby Massie have also allowed four while Bolles has allowed six. Admittedly, Teddy Bridgewater takes more sacks than Drew Lock. One of the few areas where Lock is elite is his ability to avoid sacks.