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Broncos’ offensive line improvement by the numbers

The Denver Broncos offensive line has been healthy AND good so far this season.

Cleveland Browns v Denver Broncos Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos starting five offensive lineman have missed a grand total of five offensive snaps this season (knocking on wood, throwing salt over my left shoulder and rubbing my lucky rabbit’s foot while typing that). This is the healthiest that the Bronco OL has been for this long into a season since the since 2013.

Last season the Bronco OL was absolutely wrecked by injuries.

We used nine different starting OL combinations in 2022.

Relative to last season, the only starter (by most games started) who is still a starter for the Broncos is Quinn Meinerz. Cameron Fleming is not playing and the other starters from last season are on other teams (Calvin Anderson, Graham Glasgow, Dalton Risner and Billy Turner).

If you read my writing, you know that I bemoan the lack of OL evaluation metrics, but let’s use those that are free and accessible.

By PFF grade, Garett Bolles, Lloyd Cushenberry and Meinerz have all improved over what they did in 2022, with LC3 making a huge leap year over year. Oddly enough both of our free agent OL acquisitions have played worse so far in 2023 than they did in 2022 - at least by PFF grade. They have also gotten worse in terms of blown block percentage.

Lineman PFF Grade 2023 PFF Grade 2022 2023 BB% 2022 BB%
Garrett Bolles 75.3 72.9 2.2% 2.7%
Ben Powers 60.0 62.9 2.4% 1.2%
Lloyd Cushenberry III 71.1 56.2 1.8% 3.6%
Quinn Meinerz 83.6 77.7 2.4% 1.3%
Mike McGlinchey 65.0 71.5 5.3% 2.3%

The entire OL has had a problem with false starts but even that has lessened dramatically over the last five games. Here are the OL penalties over the last five games

  • GB - 1 false start and 2 holding
  • KC - 0
  • BUF - 3 false starts, 1 holding, 1 ineligible downfield
  • MIN - 1 illegal formation
  • CLE - 2 false starts

If Powers and McGlinchey improve in the final six games, we could end up with the best OL in the league. PFF currently ranks the Bronco OL as 8th best overall, but don’t look at the pressure rate allowed. The Broncos are currently 29th in pressure rate allowed at 25.5 percent. The Dolphins are the best at 14.0% and the Giants are the worst at 28.8%.

One reason why the Broncos give up a lot of pressure is that Russell Wilson tends to hold onto the ball a long time. His current average time to throw is 2.7 seconds which is tied for the largest value among starting QBs (tied with Justin Fields). Tua Tagovailoa gets the ball off in 2.1 seconds on average which makes blocking for him much easier than blocking for Russ or Fields.