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Broncos film review: Garett Bolles shines against the Bears

This was undeniably Garett Bolles’ best game of the year to help the Denver Broncos beat the Chicago Bears. Let’s see why.

NFL: New York Jets at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

We have come to know Garett Bolles as a decent left tackle, mostly. The former 1st round pick has had an inconsistent and underwhelming career so far. His early years were marred by countless holding penalties and a limited presence in the passing game. He saw a brief renaissance under offensive line coach Mike Munchak, but has regressed in the time since the Denver Broncos fired him.

But with all of this being said, Sunday was a massive bright spot in his career as he put on a show against the Chicago Bears. Additionally, this won’t be the best pass rush he goes up against all year, but there is some great film we get to look at this week and tons for him to build off of. And he continues his quietly good season.

Let’s take a look at Garett Bolles in the passing game against the Chicago Bears.

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The big picture

Garett Bolles had 31 pass-blocking snaps and did not give up a single pressure on Sunday. He has given up just one sack and six pressures through the first four games of the season. He did have a false start in this one though, and I penalized his score accordingly. The pass plays featured 22 dropbacks, four play-actions, and five screens. The plays I graded include Wilson’s two scrambles and a couple of plays that were nullified due to penalty.

A run-through of the Ross Grading System (RGS) is that a ‘great’ block earns you 1.25 points, a ‘good’ block gets you 1 point, a ‘meh’ block gets you .5 points, and a ‘bad’ block gets you 0 points. Bolles earned two ‘great’ blocks, 26 ‘good’ blocks, three ‘meh’ blocks, and zero ‘bad’ blocks. This would total up to 30 points, and if you divide that by 31, Bolles gets a 96.7% on the day.

This is absolutely Bolles’ best game of the season, and he has been pretty good so far this year as well. The majority of his snaps were against Rasheem Green who has had a pedestrian season, but don’t let that take away from Bolles’ performance.

Now, let’s take a look at a few plays in detail.

The meh

This was probably the worst play that Bolles had all game.

In this play, Bolles takes a fairly weak pass set and almost pays for it. His first couple of kick steps make for a solid vertical set, but as he turns out toward the DE he allows for his outside shoulder to get forced in, pushing him back towards Wilson.

But what prevents this play from ending up as ‘bad’ is due to how Bolles finishes this block. If you are beaten to your outside in pass pro, the technique that you are taught is to run the defender up the field and past the quarterback. This is done most effectively by putting your inside hand on the defender’s hip and your outside hand on the defender’s shoulder. Bolles is unable to get his hand to the hip but still does a great job getting back to the defender, giving him a good shove and fully extending his arms.

Good recovery here.

The good

This play seems bad at a glance, but let’s analyze it further.

Let’s just get it out of the way that this sack is not on Garett Bolles. I know the man he was blocking eventually is the one that gets Wilson down, but that would have never happened if Jaleel McLaughlin didn’t completely whiff on this block (on a quick note, his pass blocking might be the only thing preventing him from being named the starter right now).

What I love most about this play is how Bolles handles the bull rush. It’s borderline textbook and you may recognize this technique from me breaking it down in a previous film review. This was a near-perfect use of what I call the ‘hop set’.

Bolles immediately recognizes that the defender is using the bull rush on this play, and he quickly employs the hop step to great effect. He kicks his feet backward and gets his hips underneath his torso, providing the base necessary for this type of block. He then simply hops backward a couple of times, digging the insteps of his feet into the ground, slowing and almost stopping the momentum of the defender.

This play was teetering on being named as ‘great’, but I’m being tough and feel like he got pushed back a bit too much. But this is still a solid block.

The great

Out of the two ‘great’ plays that Bolles had, I feel like this was the best one to take a look at.

Firstly, the way that Bolles and Powers handled this stunt was basically perfect. What happens frequently when the defensive line stunts is that the offensive lineman attaches his hands to the defender or tries to chase them down, causing them to lean and for the defender to beat them to the inside. Instead, they do the right thing of keeping their base, not locking their hands onto the defender, and coming together to pass off either of the defenders.

Secondly, the finish of this pass block is also basically perfect. When the defender tries to slant inside of Bolles, Bolles does the right thing and turns his kick step into a post step, posting back up inside to shut the door on the defender and to close the gap that Bolles opens up by kicking out to the defender. He turns the pass block into a run block, shifting his weight forward with proper hand placement and flattens the defender.

Now the pancake is partially due to the defender tripping over Powers’ feet, but that is more credit to Bolles, in my opinion, as that gives evidence of how little Bolles was pushed back.

Great stuff.

Also, I originally graded this play as ‘good’, but after further analysis, I needed to up it due to how good the technique was here.

Final thoughts

From what I can remember, this is definitely one of the best games that I have ever seen Bolles play. And I really hope that there is a lot more of this in store for the Broncos and Broncos fans everywhere.

This film has given me a new sense of confidence in Garett Bolles and I am now looking forward to watching him over the next few weeks.

At the least, this film has increased his trade value. I guess we’ll see what happens with that in the coming weeks.


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