Vance Joseph is an assistant in Arizona, Case Keenum is battling for the starting job in D.C. and Paxton Lynch is looking for a “Fortnite” tournament in the Pacific Northwest, so Broncos Country is in need of a new favorite punching bag. With that trio no longer residents of the metro Denver area, the potential candidates for fans to pick on incessantly has shrunk.
But Garett Bolles is still a Bronco. So all is not lost.
The third-year left tackle remains public enemy No. 1 in the Mile High City. His penchant for holding penalties, as well as his relative inability to block opposing pass rushers, has angered the fan base during the past two seasons.
Some have already written off the former first-round pick, labeling him a “bust” before the 2019 campaign gets underway. Others, however, are giving Bolles one last shot.
There are certainly reasons why the left tackle struggled during his first two seasons in the NFL, not all of which were his fault. And this year, he has been given every opportunity to excel. The Broncos hired one of the best offensive line coaches in the league (Mike Munchak) and drafted a left guard (Dalton Risner), stabilizing things around Bolles.
Have these changes helped during the first two weeks of training camp? Well, it depends.
According to some reports, Bolles is in a battle for the starting left tackle job with Elijah Wilkinson. That’s somewhat validated by the fact that the left tackle is one of only three starts (along with Risner and center Connor McGovern) who will play in Thursday’s preseason opener.
Based on those two things, Vic Fangio was asked about Bolles on Tuesday after practice. The head coach’s answer was surprising.
“Right now, Garett’s the starter. He’s the incumbent,” Fangio said. “Somebody’s got to knock him out, kind of like a heavy weight championship.”
Well, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. But then, the coach continued.
“So far, he’s had a great camp,” Fangio added about Bolles. “If we were to play today against Oakland, he’d be the starter hands down, unanimous decision.”
Whoa. Nobody saw that coming.
So much for the close competition at left tackle. Instead, it appears as though the much-maligned Bolles is running away with the job.
Why the sudden turn around. Rich Scangarello cited two reasons on Tuesday.
“He is a really good scheme fit; his athleticism helps in the run game,” the offensive coordinator explained. Mike Munchak is a great teacher and great mentor. Every guy he has, he understands is different.”
In other words, the new Broncos coaching staff is no longer forcing square pegs into round holes. Instead, they’re adapting to each player.
“Probably one of the things that Vic prides most in his coaching staff is guys that are natural teachers, creative, find ways to make guys better,” Scangarello added. “I think that’s what Mike has done with him and I think it has helped him. (It) gave him confidence and he is playing very, very well.”
While this doesn’t necessary mean all is well at left tackle. But it is a positive sign, as coaches raving about Garett Bolles is something that hasn’t occurred in previous training camps.
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