The Kansas City Chiefs made fixing the offensive line a priority this offseason. They invested a lot of resources in free agency and the draft, and the unit looks significantly different from last year. But how much has the Chiefs’ offensive line really improved? The next two weeks will give us a good idea.
First lets look at how the revamped unit performed in Week 1.
Head coach Andy Reid was pleased with the offensive line’s performance against the Browns’ front seven.
That’s a good front seven. I thought they held their own and really did a nice job. To get the run game going like that against that crew? I thought [it] was big. We had the one sack at the end, but that shouldn’t ruin the rest of what they did. I was pretty impressed. Lucas Niang had probably the toughest job of all of them — and he [bore] down and pushed through. These are young, young guys in there — and a veteran group of defensive linemen.
The unit gave up two sacks and 15 total pressures, which is good but not great. On the other hand, they averaged 3.1 yards per carry, and some of that falls in the offensive line’s inability to open wider running lanes.
Then again, Week 1 is not a great indicator of future performance. Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck will surely make adjustments, and it will be interesting to see how his group fares in the following two weeks. Next on Kansas City’s schedule is the Baltimore Ravens and their ferocious pass rush.
What will the Chiefs be up against in Week 2?
The Ravens logged 30 total pressures and three sacks against the Las Vegas Raiders. Veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell led the way with four pressures. Will Kansas City’s interior offensive line be able to contain the six-time Pro Bowler? Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith held their own against the Browns, but they could struggle in Week 2, which is understandable since both will be making their second start. Also, former Chiefs edge rusher Justin Houston showed he still has gas left in the tank, posting three pressures in the Ravens’ Week 1 loss.
Left tackle Orlando Brown has to bounce back. He surrendered five pressures against the Browns, and the Chiefs traded several draft picks for him in the offseason, so they surely want a better return from their investment. Maybe his Week 1 performance was an outlier and he will live up to expectations. Having a dominant performance on Sunday will go a long way towards proving he can be the long-term answer at left tackle.
Things won’t get any easier against the Chargers in Week 3
Division games are always tough, and this year, they will be significant for Kansas City. There’s no doubt the AFC West runs through them, but the margin for error will be slim. All four teams in the division won in Week 1, so losing against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3 could come back to haunt them in the race for a top seed in the playoffs.
The Bolts posted 15 pressures in Week 1, limiting the Washington Football Team to 15 points. The Chiefs’ offensive line will have their hands full trying to neutralize outside linebacker Joey Bosa. Defensive tackle Christian Covington could also give them fits in the interior. Kansas City could still win the matchup even if the offensive line struggles, but dominating up front will increase their odds of coming out of the game with a victory.
The Chiefs’ offensive line is a work in progress
Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith will experience growing pains in their rookie year, and their development will be crucial to the Chiefs’ success up front. Also, Orlando Brown needs to play like the franchise tackle the team thinks he is.
Both the Ravens and the Chargers will be good litmus tests for the Chiefs’ offensive line. Kansas City will be hard to stop if they can keep Mahomes’ jersey clean in both games.