Broncos finish season with the NFL’s 19th-best OL per PFF, will have to improve in 2022

Denver Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry III (79) in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High.
Nov 1, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry III (79) in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback and head coach have long been thorns in the heel of the Denver Broncos, which has led to calamitous results in recent years, however, Denver’s struggles along the offensive line have also been problematic and a major hurdle to the team experiencing success in the post-Manning era.

That trend continued this season, though plenty of young players showed growth and development that provides optimism for the future.

Pro Football Focus, in a series looking back at performances throughout this season, has recently ranked the Broncos offensive line as the 19th-best in the league in 2021. If Denver wants to be competitive in 2022, they will have to improve and capitalize on that promising future potential.

“Denver’s offensive line actually had a passable baseline, but when the unit lost, it tended to be ugly,” PFF’s Sam Monson wrote, highlighting the correlation between that unit’s play, and the team’s success. “The group gave up 28 sacks this season, which ranked 27th in the league, but it allowed only 165 total pressures (including those sacks), which ranked 15th.”

That stat also highlights that Teddy Bridgewater was a fairly large factor in the Broncos’ sack problems this year. Denver’s quarterbacks weren’t pressured too often, but when they were, they struggled to escape those scenarios, leading to unnecessary sacks and a high pressure-to-sack rate.

“Despite the success of their running backs, the Broncos’ run blocking actually wasn’t as strong,” Monson continued. “They ranked 19th in yards before contact per carry as a team (1.2), and Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams broke a combined 108 tackles on the season.”

Once again, that stat is a mixed bag. It’s nice to see how much Williams and Gordon are able to create plays on their own, however, it’s also frustrating to know how many explosive runs they could have been creating, had their offensive line met them halfway.

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