Basically everything has been a disaster for the Denver Broncos in 2020.
Too many injuries to name here, an 0-3 start and even their first win was full of mistakes. But, one massive bright spot has undoubtedly been Garett Bolles.
Bolles has gone mostly unnoticed in terms of penalties this year, which is a great start. Through his first three seasons of play with the Broncos, Bolles not only picked up too many penalty calls, but the timing of those calls were many times detrimental to drives. Drive-killers and big play-killers have haunted Bolles and the Broncos since the first-round draft pick began his career back in 2017.
But, this year, it looks like he’s finally turned a corner.
Through four games, Bolles has picked up a mere one penalty, a hold. He’s also yet to give up a single sack after averaging 4.8 sacks allowed per season in his first three years.
All told, the Broncos are currently ninth in the NFL with 21 penalties total called on them, and only four of those have been on the offensive line. Somewhat surprisingly, newly signed guard Graham Glasgow leads the team with two flags.
When he was signed and brought in this offseason, Glasgow was supposed to be the veteran leader on an otherwise young and inexperienced offensive line. So, considering he’s struggled, it only helps highlight Bolles’ phenomenal play.
According to Pro Football Focus, Bolles basically enjoyed a perfect game in terms of pass-blocking against the Jets. He had no penalties, no sacks allowed and not even a single QB pressure allowed. That’s saying a lot considering the Broncos offensive line has been awful at times this year, allowing 13 total sacks and the injury to starter Drew Lock.
Bolles was the only Broncos offensive lineman to not allow a pressure on Thursday night, a game in which the Jets hammered QB Brett Rypien in his first NFL start, racking up six personal foul penalties in the game.
And then, when Rypien was hit hard multiple times as the Broncos were trying to run the clock out, Bolles was ready to attack for his teammates.
For the left tackle, the transformation this year has been unreal. He’s not only leading in tense situations like that one, but literally leading the way in blocking, too.
On Thursday night, he started this run off by throwing a defender to the ground and opening a hole for Melvin Gordon. Then, he got out and attacked the second level by tossing a linebacker three yards and away from the Denver running back.
Melvin Gordon with a big run behind Garett Bolles and the left side. pic.twitter.com/4Kk91UaynP
— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 2, 2020
And on this play, Bolles leads by helping Noah Fant block the correct player. And at the end, you can see the tackle explaining to the younger tight end who he was supposed to get on the play.
Check out how Garett Bolles makes Noah Fant right on this block. 👀 pic.twitter.com/7jo64kbNfn
— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 3, 2020
And while some discredit Pro Football Focus’ analytical approach, his 86.6 overall grade to this point in the season is far and away the best grade of his career. 2019 set the mark for best season to this point for Bolles, with a 76.1. Through four games, he’s one of the best tackles in the NFL.
Of course, we’ll all be looking for the tackle to continue this play throughout the entire season because he’s had periods of great play like this in the past. But, according to Benjamin Allbright, the Broncos are already working on getting him to sign an extension.
However, it’s no guarantee any extension happens. The Broncos had an opportunity to pick up Bolles’ fifth-year option at the end of last season and declined. Now, he’s playing better than he ever has, and for the player, waiting it out until the end of the season would likely mean more leverage and more money in the end.
For now, Broncos fans can relish in the way Bolles is playing; like he’s finally realizing the potential of a first-round pick.