The Denver Broncos O-line is a huge question mark heading into the 2023 season.

Last year, the Broncos O-line allowed 63 sacks, which was an NFL-high. The Indianapolis Colts came in second with 60 sacks given up, and unsurprisingly Denver (16.9 PPG) and Indy (17 PPG) were 32nd and 30th in scoring, respectively.

And, sure, some of those NFL-leading 63 sacks were due to Russell Wilson holding the ball too long. Warren Sharp explained last year that Wilson’s time to throw was far too long. That loss to the Titans fully showed as much, as Wilson was hit 17 times, the most for any quarterback in 16 years.

But the majority of the sacks rest on the broad shoulders of the offensive linemen.

That’s why Denver went out and signed two new starters in right tackle Mike McGlinchey and left guard Ben Powers. Plus, the Broncos were without starting left tackle Garrett Bolles for 12 games when he injured his knee.

Bolles is one of the most frustrating and confusing players in the NFL; after years of struggles, he played great in 2021 only to regress to the mean last year. Denver’s got to hope he can regain that 2021 form at the most important position on the line.

Powers comes to Denver by way of Baltimore, where he played the last four years and was the full-time starter the last two. It’s early, but we’ve already seen a few missteps from him in preseason. Overall, time will tell on him, though, and Powers should be solid when he gets comfortable.

And McGlinchey is supposed to be the answer at right tackle, a revolving door for the Broncos for years, but he sprained a knee earlier in camp and has yet to play in preseason.

Going back to Week 1 in the preseason, the Broncos O-line was dominated at the line of scrimmage. Russell Wilson was hit far too often, especially for a preseason game. And the line was physically worked by the Cardinals’ front.

Unfortunately, for football fans across the league, offensive lines being dominated by defensive lines is becoming the norm.

That’s because there’s a shortage of starting-quality offensive linemen.

Why? The Ringer explored the topic back in 2017, and things haven’t improved much since then. They give reasons like the spread offense’s rise in popularity at the college level, lack of proper practice time, and defenders becoming bigger and faster.

Former Broncos standout lineman Mark Schlereth recently talked about how important it is for linemen to hone their craft. He also agrees with the fact that those on the O-line are less athletic than their counterparts. You can see that speech here on OLMasterminds’ Instagram (NSFW).



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Luckily for Denver, the offensive line bounced back in Week 2 of the preseason against a great defensive front in the San Francisco 49ers.

“Physicality was the biggest thing,” right guard Quinn Meinerz said after practice Tuesday. “When you turn on the tape, you can tell all of us were attacking the line of scrimmage. And really getting a lot of displacement.”

Speaking of Meinerz and displacing opponents, Brandon Thorn gives a great tape breakdown of the Broncos third-year guard in the next section.

The positive: Quinn Meinerz is quietly developing at right guard

More from Thorn in the second video:

Meinerz entered the NFL as a center prospect, and he has the versatility to play there if Lloyd Cushenberry is injured or benched. But it seems like Meinerz has found his home at right guard and he’s bullying opponents at every chance so far this season.

Pro Football Focus even named Meinerz their breakout player for 2023 on the Broncos.

No doubt about it, Meinerz has come a long way from playing Division III at the college level, to being a raw rookie at 330 pounds, to losing 10 pounds and becoming arguably Denver’s best offensive lineman. Read much more about Meinerz’s humble upbringings in this lengthy profile done by

Broncos O-line will be crucial to offense’s bounce back, or not

Overall, the Broncos O-line will need to continue to play with more intensity and tact moving forward.

Bolles needs to be that franchise left tackle we finally saw in 2021, and Powers will hopefully be the stud we saw in Baltimore. In the middle, Cushenberry is the biggest question mark and his lackluster play needs to be a thing of the past. And roughly three weeks out from the season kickoff against the Raiders (Sept. 10, 2:25 p.m. MT), the right side of the line with Meinerz and McGlinchey seems to be in good hands.

Sean Payton’s offense needs that line to pass protect for Wilson—who’s busy trying to bounce back himself—as well as the running game with Javonte Williams, Smaje Perine and others.

Keep in mind, not only does Wilson hold the ball too long at times, three of the Broncos top-7 receivers have been injured already. Jalen Virgil’s season is now done after being tackled in Week 2 of preseason, and both Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler are out as well, likely both for the year.

That means Wilson may need more time to find backup receivers.

The good news is it looks like Wilson has more speed this year than he did last year—we’ve seen him gain yards on the ground when plays break down—and his arm strength has improved, too.

And while quarterback is the most important position in football, winning teams win the line of scrimmage. That starts with the five big boys up front.