ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It’s no secret the Denver Broncos need help on the offensive line. After giving up the ninth-most sacks (40), earning the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game (92.8) and the fifth-fewest yards per rush (3.6) in the 2016 season, the Broncos offensive line didn’t have many consistent bright spots.
In his first order of business after being hired as the new offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy set out to fix his offensive line. His first call on the job was to long-time friend and colleague Jeff Davidson to convince him to come to Denver to take over the struggling unit.
With just over a month on the job, in Davidson’s eyes the job is relatively simple: get the best players on the field and do what they do best.
“Finding out the best way to get your best five guys on the field and then finding out what those guys do well and do more of that,” he said.
According to McCoy, the evaluation process has already started by watching tape of every player on the roster. While the starters for most positions are already in place—Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders at wide receiver for example—the offensive line couldn’t be more different.
Outside of a healthy Matt Paradis at center—which isn’t a given since he has two hip surgeries during the offseason—the Broncos new offensive staff is considering everything when it comes to fixing the offensive line. Those changes have already started at the UCHealth Training Center as the Broncos decided not to pick up the option in Russell Okung's contract on Thursday, making him a free agent come March 9.
Along with the personnel changes, both with coaches and players, the scheme is going to start from scratch as well. However, the exact scheme that Denver will run is yet to be determined as the coaching staff won’t decide that until after figuring out who the starters will be.
“There's a lot of different styles to play, but we're going to find out what our guys do well and be able to fit that to our system instead of trying to force them into a fit on things that maybe they're not as good at,” Davidson said. “Again, that's part of the evaluation process. Some of it we'll know just based on film, but most of it's going to be watching these guys on the field and seeing what we're most comfortable with and seeing what they are most comfortable with as well.”
Additionally, the new offensive coaching regime won’t be afraid to continue to make changes throughout the year, even if it means making a shakeup at the last second.
“I will say that we're also never going to say that this is the final [lineup] because it doesn't matter how painful it is, if it's worth moving guys around, even at the last second and we think it's going to help us win, we're going to do that,” the new offensive line coach said.
McCoy’s seemingly adaptable and evolving offense continues to highlight the significant differences between the new staff and Gary Kubiak’s previous regime. Regardless of the players on the field, McCoy has the utmost confidence in his offensive line coaches.
“I will say this, Jeff Davidson will make them play better, and they will play better next year,” McCoy said.
Whether or not this statement by McCoy is true could be the determining factor in how far the offense, and team, will go in 2017. If McCoy is, in fact, right, the Broncos could be looking at another playoff run. However, if not, the offensive production may not look much different than 2016.