In my preview of the Giants’ defensive line piece, I wrote about how talented the New York Giants were up front on defense. Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence II are two excellent interior defenders that the Denver Broncos could struggle with.
That prediction came true.
Broncos were ranked 29th in rushing success rate in week 1 but posted the 9th-highest rushing EPA.— AJ Schulte (@AJDraftScout) September 14, 2021
Tough defense to run on. Melvin Gordon's big run at the end probably swung that EPA much higher.
It was tough sledding virtually all game for the Broncos offensive line in the run game. Running against Danny Shelton, Dexter Lawrence, Austin Johnson, and Leonard Williams was always a tough ask out of the gate in week 1.
Garett Bolles wanted to bust out his own spin move. What an effort on the recovery. pic.twitter.com/7d4fOUfMNF— AJ Schulte (@AJDraftScout) September 15, 2021
Bolles was the best offensive lineman on the field in this game, but he wasn’t perfect. There were a few instances where he almost got surprised by a stunt or beat off the line of scrimmage by speed. However, he was still pretty consistent overall and kept in line with his play from last year. He still has some steps to take forward, but hopefully, the issues stemmed mainly just from rust.
The entire interior offensive line struggled against the Giants, and Risner was no exception. Leonard Williams won their matchups more often than not, and he struggled to generate much push in the run game. There were a few bright spots here and there for Risner, but by and large, a pretty forgettable day for him.
Just not the best day at the office for Risner against the Giants. pic.twitter.com/Fz5btWgZW4— AJ Schulte (@AJDraftScout) September 15, 2021
Lloyd Cushenberry III
Cushenberry’s 2020 tape was largely forgettable, and many were hoping for a better 2021 for the Broncos’ 2020 third-round pick. Unfortunately, 2021 got off to a poor start for the LSU product. His one-on-ones (mainly against Dexter Lawrence II) were largely one-sided and not in his favor. His best plays came working with double teams and a few instances of picking up a stunt. It seemed like the Broncos were doing their best to protect him away from those one-on-one matchups, something that can really handicap a team’s blocking scheme.
The Broncos did their best to ensure LC3 didn't draw Lawrence one-on-one but when they couldn't...it didn't go pretty. pic.twitter.com/yXfcjdbZUJ— AJ Schulte (@AJDraftScout) September 15, 2021
Glasgow was the best interior lineman for Denver, which should say something considering he fought a heart condition all game. Glasgow held his own for the most part, but wasn’t quite as dominant as he’d put on tape in the past. He had a key block on Danny Shelton (not an easy human to move) that sprung Melvin Gordon’s big touchdown run, but he also got bullied by Dexter Lawrence on a few reps.
Melvin Gordon's big touchdown run. Glasgow drawing the tough task of blocking Danny Shelton one-on-one. pic.twitter.com/KUAvkpI4kl— AJ Schulte (@AJDraftScout) September 15, 2021
Dexter Lawrence's natural power was giving Denver fits all game. Moves Glasgow back with ease pic.twitter.com/CX6j8mR7UJ— AJ Schulte (@AJDraftScout) September 14, 2021
Overall Grade: C
I thought Bobby Massie held up his end well, which is an upgrade over some of the right tackles Denver has sorted through in recent years. It was his block that helped seal Gordon’s big touchdown run, and he had one of the few wins against Leonard Williams (even it might not have been the prettiest rep). He wasn’t dominating but played about right at average where we expected him to. Considering the rest of the game, that was a good thing.
Bobby Massie vs Leonard Williams pic.twitter.com/HEqbOHa6NA— AJ Schulte (@AJDraftScout) September 15, 2021
Overall OL Review
In general, the Broncos’ offensive line day could be described as up-and-down. They struggled heavily in the run game till late and the pass protection had quite a few lapses in its ability to keep Teddy Bridgewater clean. The good news is the tackle situation appears fine, but we’ll know more as Massie gets tested by better edge rushers. I’m a little alarmed by the interior, but the two guards are good-to-great veterans coached by Munchak. I’m optimistic they’ll be better moving forward.
There were a few caveats I will grant the team. First, it’s week 1. Obviously, this shouldn’t be cause to panic (if it lasts against Jacksonville and the Jets...then we can talk). Rust takes time to knock off. The Broncos opened up against a very, very talented front with some serious power.
Pat Shurmur also made some puzzling run checks in this one. Tim Jenkins brought up this point in his KOA appearance, and I noticed it on my second rewatch. Several times, the Giants shifted into a bear front and Shurmur just didn’t check out of the run play. Now whether that’s a Shurmur thing or a Bridgewater thing I couldn’t tell you. Running into bear front looks of Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Austin Johnson, and Danny Shelton didn’t work, and it felt like Shurmur ran it just to run it. He continued to try and run behind the interior when it just wasn’t clicking. Should the Broncos’ offensive line have played better overall? Sure. Were they being put into good situations? Not nearly as often as you’d like.