After owning one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL the past two seasons, the Denver Broncos decided against overhauling the group in 2018. Instead, the main change was swapping the coaching staff.
Out went O-line coach Jeff Davidson. In came Sean Kugler to coach guards and centers. Chris Strausser was promoted from O-line assistant to coaching offensive tackles alongside Kugler.
The Broncos believed the change in coaching would be the most meaningful upgrade to a unit that was destroyed at will last season.
Thus far, the modification seems to have made a noticeable difference.
"I think their coaching is really good this year," Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe said of the offensive line, via the team's official website. "[With their] technique, they're doing things that I haven't seen before. It's making us better. So I'm happy about it."
The Broncos added veteran Jared Veldheer to help solidify a previously turnstile right tackle spot. Beyond that move, however, most of the personnel changes have been cosmetic. Even with little shifting, after only a couple practices, the Broncos defenders have noticed a difference.
"No offense, but last year, we'd get by 'em at will," Wolfe said. "Now, you're not getting a clean win in one-on-ones. You're not going to get a clean win. You're going to have to fight for it.
"They're getting so much better. They've got depth and they're playing as one. They get along. They like each other. They care about each other. So that's huge. We've gone two days in a row without a fight. That says something."
Offensive line coaching is one of the most overlooked aspects of an NFL team. It's not flashy. It won't make highlight shows. But it can make a huge difference in the success or failure of a football team.
It's early, but Wolfe's comments provide a positive assessment of an improved unit. Not having defenders breathing down his neck 1.2 seconds after the snap will surely make Case Keenum's adjustment to Denver much easier.