Garett Bolles continues to possibly be the most divisive player on the Denver Broncos, at least besides Russell Wilson. When it comes to the eye test, at first glance his performances seem questionable, but when you watch it back afterward, it can feel like a different game. And when it comes to the stat sheet, he’s been near the top of the league. According to PFF, he consistently ranks near the bottom in QB pressures, hits, and sacks. In fact, has allowed a quarterback hit or sack on just 0.9% of dropbacks this season, which ranks second among all left tackles.
Garett Bolles has been one of the biggest contributors, in most games, in the pass protection and is likely playing his best season yet.
So, let's take a deep dive into how Garett Bolles did against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The big picture
The Broncos had 33 designed passing plays against Houston that weren’t screens. 24 of them were dropbacks and the other nine were play-action. On these plays Bolles would give up three pressures, no QB hits, and one sack.
When it comes to grading, Bolles had 27 “good” blocks, four “meh” blocks, and two “bad” blocks. This comes out to 29 points or 88% according to the RGS.
Throughout the game, Bolles played clean football. He wasn’t challenged too often in the sense of seeing abnormal pressure schemes or many different pass-rush moves by the defense. Most times, the defensive end over the top of him would have outside contain and would rush the C gap. Typically the DE would throw a club-and-rip, occasionally a stutter step, and also a couple of attempts at a ghost-rush.
Bolles handled the pass rush well. He kept great leverage, not getting beat to his inside once in the game. We’ll take a look at a play later where the DE attempted to make an inside move but Bolles had him covered up almost perfectly. He also, for most of the game, did well in not getting beat up field. We all know that he has a tendency to give up the outside edge too quickly and that only happened a couple of times.
Next, we’ll take a look at a few specific plays I want to talk about.
Up first is the sack.
Here is a patented ‘get beat around the edge’ sack that Bolles has always had issues with. He simply turns out to the DE too quickly rather than continuing to kick step upfield with him. There is a technique taught where the tackle turns out to the defender to wall off the quarterback, but this shouldn’t happen until you’re at least in line with the quarterback. It is bad timing on the part of Bolles in this play.
But there is a reason why I don’t like this technique. It forces you to stop your feet and you lose most or all of your momentum. Bolles is a sitting duck while the DE hits a speed rush hard to the outside.
Now, the excuse that I might accept is that Bolles would have been fine if Wilson just stepped up in the pocket, rather than roll out to the right. If this happened, then Bolles likely would have been able to run the DE around Wilson. But then my response to that is that Bolles shouldn’t have gotten beat that quickly in the first place.
I want to take a look at the good next.
There is a thing on the offensive line called “looking for work”. During a pass play, if you’re not currently blocking anyone and there isn’t an immediate threat, you’re supposed to look for a block to make. And on this play, Bolles found someone to hit.
Few things feel better than hitting a defensive lineman in the ribs while they’re not expecting it. Solid move here by Bolles.
The last play is one I alluded to earlier.
The one time that the DE tried to beat Bolles to the inside, it didn’t work out. I really love what Bolles does in this play.
First, Bolles uses his inside arm to strike the DE and it hits perfectly. A single-arm strike is a great technique to use as a tackle as it keeps you from lunging/ leaning out to the defender. It also aids in keeping inside leverage on the defender.
After Bolles stops the DE in his tracks by using just one arm, he is then able to post back up inside, beating the defender and maintaining proper inside leverage. The DE then gives up and commits to the bull rush and the only reason he comes close to Wilson is because Wilson decides to roll out of the pocket.
Great block by Bolles with excellent technique.
Yes, it does seem like Garett Bolles is to blame when it comes to the offensive line’s shortcomings in the passing game. This is possibly due to previous conditioning over the last few years of seeing him play. This can also be due to the eye test and the line as a whole looking sloppy. This can also be due to Russell Wilson’s decision-making at times. And yes, Bolles does deserve the blame at times.
But after looking back at the film, at least from the Houston game, Bolles did a great job for most of the game and he is deserving of his high grade from PFF.
How would you grade Bolles’ pass blocking against the Texans?
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