On Sunday afternoon, it became almost laughable. Time after time, referee Adrian Hill would crack open his microphone after a yellow flag had been thrown to let the crowd know who was the culprit and the message never seemed to change.
“Holding, offense, number 72.”
Four different times, Garett Bolles’ name was announced to the crowd for holding. One other time, Hill cut him a break and announced “number 65” instead, incorrectly pining Bolles’ fifth flag on Ron Leary.
As the penalties mounted, so too did the frustration. The crowd at Empower Field booed. Coaches and teammates rolled their eyes. And Bolles himself searched for answers.
To his credit, the third-year left tackle faced the media after the game. And he vowed to get better.
“I’m going to turn this around,” Bolles vowed on Sunday evening. “I promise you all that. I promise Broncos Country that. I promise my teammates that.”
Yesterday, his head coach showed his support, suggesting there was a solution to the recurring problem.
“I think he suffers from thinking he’s in good position sometimes and dumps the guy at the end where he thinks it’s a legal block,” Vic Fangio said when asked about Bolles. “We have to do a better job of explaining that to him. He’s got to do a better job of listening to the explaining, but I think he can.”
That all sounds good, but it’s natural for everyone to start wondering when it’s going to click. This is Bolles’ third season in the NFL. He now has Mike Munchak, widely regarded as the best offensive line coach in the league, on hand every day to help him. At some point, it has to sink in and start resulting in better play. Otherwise, the Broncos are going to be forced to turn the page.
Bolles was flagged 14 times as a rookie. He repeated those numbers in year two. And through two games in 2019, he’s already been flagged six times. That’s not a good pattern; if anything, the problem seems to be getting worse. And his teammates are about fed up with the situation.
“I’m going to keep talking to Bolles to see if we can get him right,” wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said on Tuesday. “To say that he’ll be alright is not okay.”
Specifically, the veteran playmaker wants his teammate to realize there’s a problem.
“He needs to understand that he is doing something wrong,” Sanders added. “They keep throwing flags on him and he keeps holding.”
Recognizing the problem is always the first step, something everyone other than Bolles seems to grasp at this point. On Sunday, the left tackle continued to suggest he’s getting an unfair shake from the officials.
“I’ve built a reputation for myself in this league of holding; I disagree with it, to be honest,” Bolles said after Denver’s 16-14 loss to Chicago. “There are some calls I disagree with and there are some things that I understand.”
Forty-eight hours later, the longest-tenured player on the Broncos offense wasn’t singing the same tune. He’s grown tired of the excuses.
“Hopefully, we keep breaking down the film and see him make that jump,” Sanders offered. “It’s been happening for like two or three years.”
Will the message get through to Bolles. The team’s leading receiver isn’t so sure.
“I’ve talked to him; everybody is trying to talk to him,” Sanders concluded. “We’ll see.”
The next test is Sunday morning in Green Bay, where Bolles tries to right his wrongs at Lambeau Field against the Packers. We’ll see, indeed.
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