As the Broncos defensive line goes, so goes the defense. The defensive secondary might take exception to that, but it’s true. The “No Fly Zone” depends more on the guys doing the dirty work in the trenches to be successful than vise versa. Denver’s dominance on defense rests solely on the defensive line’s ability to wreak havoc and that’s just how they like it. Denver’s offensive line should take note, because they’re the key to a successful season.

Trevor Siemian is making his first NFL start and he’s going to need a ton of help against Carolina; everyone knows that.

It’s no secret that C.J. Anderson has to prove he can stay healthy and produce like the bell cow back he’s now being paid to be.

No one doubts that the group of wide receivers John Elway has assembled is scary dangerous.

Those three share one thing in common: A heavy reliance on the offensive line to be successful. Last year the offensive line was a mess. Injuries played a part in their problems but there are no excuses in the NFL; they simply have to be better this season.

This offseason Elway and his team sought out immediate upgrades on the offensive line. They brought in Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson to shore up the tackle positions. They drafted Connor McGovern to add depth inside and signed Darrion Weems to do the same. It’s a completely different unit than the Broncos rolled out a year ago and they need to embrace the weight of the season on their shoulders. That’s because there’s no else (mainly at quarterback) to bear that burden.

Last season Peyton Manning’s ability to call out blitzes was a huge asset when he was on the field. Even Brock Osweiler, who saw his first major action under center last season, was a big help to a very porous group. Denver had two quarterbacks (a Hall of Famer and one who proved he was ready to be a full-time starter) to help hide any and all deficiencies.

Those fallbacks are no longer there. It’s going to be up to Matt Paradis and company. They have to take on the responsibility of opening up running lanes for Anderson and Devontae Booker to take pressure off the passing game. They have to recognize blitz packages and not get beat on stunts. If they can’t, Denver’s extremely inexperienced quarterbacks are going to face more pressure than they know how to deal with. That’s a bad combination that more often than not leads to turnovers and bad sacks.

Thursday night will be their first test and it’s a huge one. Saying it’s trial by fire is selling the task short. Facing Kony Ealy, Charles Johnson, Star Lotulelei, Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly in Week 1 is like being forced to take the bar exam as your entrance test to middle school. Carolina’s front seven is one of the best in the business.

Dominating up front is a mentality. It’s a willingness and desire to be better than the man in front of you on every play. That is the mindset Denver’s offensive line should have. Nay, that’s the mindset they have to have and that starts against Carolina. The need believe they’ll win every battle and take pride in making the jobs of those relying on them easier, just as Denver’s defensive line does.

It’s time for Matt Paradis and company to take responsibility for the offenses’ success, because Siemian, Anderson, Booker and the talented group of wide receivers will only go as far as the offensive line will take them.