The Denver Broncos buffered Drew Lock with a bevy of weapons to enable the quarterback to succeed in his second season. The biggest question mark for the Broncos offense is whether the protection will hold up for the young quarterback.
John Elway revamped the interior offensive line adding rookie Lloyd Cushenberry at center and Graham Glasgow at guard, but the tackles remain a glaring question. Denver signed 34-year-old Demar Dotson to replace Ja'Wuan James at right tackle. Left tackle remains under Garett Bolles' purview.
The former first-round pick knows he hasn't lived up to expectations through his first three seasons and doesn't blame fans for expressing their frustration with his play.
"Listen, our fans are some of the best fans in the country," Bolles said, via the team's official website. "They deserve the best football. Here in Denver we have a tradition of winning. It's unacceptable the way that I played. I take full responsibility of that."
Bolles has been up-and-down in every aspect from pass blocking to run blocking through his first three years. Most notably, however, have been the penalties. According to Pro Football Focus, Bolles has garnered 45 flags, including 13 that have been declined or offset. Last year he had 17 penalties.
The mishaps put Bolles squarely in the limelight, a place no offensive lineman wants to be during a game.
"Nobody likes to get booed, so I took that upon myself to get better," Bolles said. "I did whatever I can. I took [steps]. I worked out hard. I put on 20 extra pounds. I did whatever I can to make myself better, the best version of me moving forward, because I know this is a very important season not just for me but for my family. This organization is counting on me to be the best version of myself. I know whatever I had to do this offseason I did it."
The Broncos didn't replace Bolles this season, believing the talent is still there for the first-round pick to rise higher than mediocre. Elway, however, declined the fifth-year option, meaning the left tackle is staring at free agency in 2021.
"That was out of my control," Bolles said. "I can't dictate what Mr. Elway or those guys up front do. What I can dictate is how I play on the football field. That's exactly what I can dictate. I can focus on myself and I can focus on my teammates. I love my teammates. I can focus on Drew and I can focus on everything else. I can't control that. My agent will take care of that when the time comes. I know that if I play good football and I play the best I can, then I know I can be here long-term. I know I can play at this level a long time. I know if I just focus on me and being the best me and not getting too high with the highs and too low with the lows, I know I'll be exactly where I need to be."
The Broncos hope that Lock's elusiveness in the pocket will help the offensive line give up fewer sacks. In a pressure-packed season for many, Bolles' future in Denver sits in the balance. His play will determine where the next road leads.