ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — John Elway had one clear goal in the offseason—fix the offensive line.
After the Broncos missed the playoffs for the first time in his six-year tenure as general manager, Elway wasted no time focusing his attention to rebooting the team through the offensive line. Not only did the Broncos use their first-round pick on an offensive tackle, Garett Bolles, their two most prized, and expensive, free agents were offensive lineman as well — guard Ron Leary and tackle Menelik Watson.
While many applauded the moves to become “harder, better, faster, stronger” in the trenches, a player that heavily relies on the offensive line to make a living didn’t necessarily agree that the problem with the offense resided within the five men upfront.
“People like to make it seem like the O-line was a huge problem,” running back C.J. Anderson said during Week 2 of OTAs. “I don’t think our O-line was the problem.”
Even after giving up the ninth-most sacks (40) and having the fourth-worst yards-per-carry average (3.6) in 2016, Anderson believed the issue wasn’t with the players themselves, but more so the way the scheme fit— or didn’t fit—with them.
“People forget to understand that [former head coach Gary] Kubiak was only here for two years and it takes some time to get the people you want for your scheme,” Anderson said. “I’m not saying the scheme was bad, because it wasn’t — obviously we won a Super Bowl with it. But I don’t think our O-line fit well in that scheme — that’s why Kubiak was trying to make changes and do things.”
“He only had two years to do it though,” Anderson added. “It’s not like this is Kubiak's fourth or fifth year, and we got the O-line that we need for Kubiak’s scheme.”
“I think we have the right scheme for the right line,” he said. “Bringing those guys in is definitely going to help us a lot.
However, it isn’t just the new additions that will make the biggest impact. The leftover players that didn’t fit Kubiak’s scheme will play a major role in not only solidifying the line on the field, but bringing the new guys up to speed off the field.
“Having Max [Garcia] and having [Michael] Schofield, I think those are going to help a lot,” Anderson said. “I think they are going to help those guys a lot just to scheme them along.”
With the additions of Bolles, Leary and Watson, it was clear that Elway thought there could be improvement along the offensive line. Anderson, however, doesn’t believe it was a personnel issue.