The Gazette’s Paul Klee has three observations on the Broncos’ trip to Wisconsin on Sunday:
John Elway on Garett Bolles: ‘It’s gotta stop’
Thursday afternoon, I shuffled between three Denver sports talk radio programs and all three were ripping Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles. It’s not only sports media and Broncomaniacs who are calling for change at left tackle. It’s his teammates, coaches and the man who drafted Bolles, John Elway. “Well, it’s gotta stop, period,” Elway said on “850 KOA” of the holding penalties that are killing the Broncos offense. “There’s no more excuses for it. He’s had 26 holding penalties (most in the NFL) in the last two years and two games, so it’s got to stop.” Question is, is the Bolles situation all that’s holding back the Broncos offense? Sure looks that way. The Broncos rank ninth in the NFL in first downs. These aren’t the 3-and-outs that had Broncos Stadium at Mile High booing Case Keenum or Trevor Siemian out of the building. How long is Bolles’ leash? “A good amount,” coach Vic Fangio said, because there’s no good option. Until big-money offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James returns from injury, the Broncos don’t have a clear solution for the Bolles problem. “Sometimes he tries to finish and gets a little out of control and we have to rectify that,” offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello said.
Broncos money matters
Hunting for reasons why the Broncos are 0-2? Follow the money. This one’s a contract year for Emmanuel Sanders. Can you tell? The Broncos’ best player so far in 2019, Sanders said: “I’m so locked in these days.” No doubt about it: 16 catches, 92 yards per game, two touchdowns. (Oh, and a 2-point conversion that should have won the Bears game.) If you break it down by cash, Sanders, who enters free agency after this season, is the sixth highest-paid Bronco. Of the 11 highest-paid players, you can make an argument only Sanders and Joe Flacco are earning their keep. Ja’Wuan James ($17.5 million, per Spotrac.com), Bryce Callahan and Todd Davis missed all or most of Weeks 1 and 2. And the defense anchored by Von Miller ($17.5 million, tops on the ‘D’), Chris Harris Jr. and Derek Wolfe has yet to force a turnover or record a sack. Then there’s lineman Ron Leary, who joins Bolles as a penalty magnet. If the Broncos are to break free of a six-game losing streak, the Broncos who make the big bucks must play like they deserve their checks.
Broncos history at Lambeau Field
One topic lifted spirits last week at UCHealth Training Center: Lambeau Field. Only the Red Sox at Fenway Park and the Cubs at Wrigley Field have spent more time at their current venues than the Packers at Lambeau (since 1957). “I don’t think we’re going to see a bunch of fantasy stats this week in the stadium while we’re playing,” said Flacco, who’s 1-1 in two visits to Green Bay. OK, so it would make for a sweet headline: Broncos save their season at Lambeau Field! Just don’t tell them the bad news. Aaron Rodgers has only 17 losses there in 12 seasons as the starting quarterback, and the Broncos are hunting their first win at Lambeau Field (0-4). Facts wouldn’t faze the Broncos, who to a man raised a smile at the prospect of turning around their season with an upset inside the NFL’s oldest stadium. “I love it. I love that historic feel,” said Chris Harris Jr., whose third game on Denver’s defense, in 2011, came at Lambeau Field. “I have a lot of games that I circle. I call them money games. This is definitely a money game for sure.”
PAUL KLEE, THE GAZETTE