The largest guys on the team dress next to each other on the far side of the locker room.
“The much maligned offensive line!’’ bellowed a daring intruder.
The Denver Broncos’ offensive linemen, bless their collective hearts, smiled at the irritating wisecrack.
“We’ve gotten used to it by now,” said Broncos’ center Matt Paradis.
“It’s part of it. The offensive line has always been the scapegoat,’’ said left tackle Russell Okung. “We’re not the first and we won’t be the last. And I’m sure it will happen again. But we don’t pay attention to outside noise. We know it can be very fickle. We just stay true to our room. Clancy does a good job keeping us humble and teaching us to work hard.’’
Clancy Barone, the Broncos’ offensive line coach, came through with one of the league’s best coaching jobs last week. In the Broncos’ previous game, Oct. 13 at San Diego, each of Denver’s five offensive linemen was flagged for a major penalty.
Those infractions cost the Broncos up to 13 points – a hold on Matt Paradis knocked the team out of field goal range and two holds on Okung cost the Broncos a safety and touchdown with a possible 2-point conversion – in a 21-13 loss.
The offensive line took the brunt of the blame for that defeat.
“For sure. That’s not who we are,’’ said left guard Max Garcia. “That was embarrassing for us. We hated putting that on tape and not executing like that. We wanted to get the bad taste out of our mouths and the only way we were going to do that is if we went and got it. If we went in there and approached the game like it was ours. And we had to take it, it wasn’t going to be given to us because they’ve got a good front. We just had to be resilient and bounce back.’’
From that nightmare came an offensive line’s dream game. In a 27-9 win against Houston on Monday night, the Broncos’ offensive line helped spring running backs C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker for 190 yards rushing while not allowing a sack to quarterback Trevor Siemian.
“It was a good day at the office,’’ Garcia said. “We’ll go back and look at the tape. It’s never as good as you think it is, it’s never as bad as you think it is. We’ll keep moving forward from here and try to build on it.’’
The Broncos were flagged for three more offensive holding penalties early in the game against Houston – two on Okung and one on Schofield. But on one of Okung’s holding penalties, he absolutely pancaked his defender.
“We have to worry about ours, but I think it’s going on around the league,’’ Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said of holding penalties during his day-after-game press conference Tuesday. “You can look at the overall number of calls going on in a game week in and week out. … I think they’re dead on on a few of them. We’re going to argue about a few of them.’’