If It Aint Broke . . .

There seems to be a lot of chatter in these here parts about what all is wrong (and right) with the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line and how to make it better. We’ve all heard ‘em, they generally go something like this:

Branden Albert will never win us a Superbowl at LT; he should be moved to . . .

We need a major upgrade at RT, Barry Richardson shoved a coach.

Even at 74 years old, 110 lb Casey Weigmann continues to play phenomenally well. He anchors our OL dammit!

Don’t dare touch Ryan Lilja, he’s from here and more importantly, he went to K-State!

Brian Waters play has slipped, he’s just getting by on reputation.

Okay, perhaps I exagerated a tad on the matters of Casey Weigmann’s diminutive stature and charter membership to AARP, but are all or any of these statements really valid? I’ll do a little review on all this right after the jump.

Let’s begin this convo with a definition of what the Chiefs offense really is, that is, what offensive philosophy has been the most effective in establishing the level of success we saw last season and to a lesser extent, towards of the end of the season which preceded it? Are the Chiefs a play action offense? Are they a West Coast offense? Are they a pass early and often offense? Are they a physical, run the ball down your throat offense? If you’re keeping track, the answer to all of these questions is a collective “no.”

In the latter part of 2009 and all of 2010, the Chiefs moved the chains most effectively when Jamaal Charles had the ball in his hands. But let’s also be extra clear about how that was accomplished – Jamaal Charles was at his best, not running downhill between the guards, but rather with center and guards in motion and Charles taking the ball outside. In other words, our primary offensive philosophy, a highly successful one mind you, is to get the ball to Charles and get him outside as quickly as possible, all with the help of a Zone Blocking Scheme.

That’s it. That, so far, is pretty much how the Chiefs define success on offense.

Considering how effective we were at doing that, what exactly is the problem with our offensive line? Clearly, if Jamaal Charles is finding success catching and running balls outside, it seems reasonably safe to say that our two tackles had a significant hand in making that happen. It also seems plausible to say that our interior linemen must do a pretty decent job of taking out linebackers by blocking in motion well.

So I have to ask, with one of the most productive running games in the NFL (except when Thomas Jones carries the ball, obviously) how much sense does it make to mess with that kind of success?

Move Branden Albert to ? and take a chance that ? will be better at LT? Really?
For the record, Brian Waters played extremely well last year. And yes there are stats to support that conclusion.
Barry Richardson is improving. Should we just assume he’s reached his ceiling?
Waters, Weigmann, and Lilja are about as effective an interior trio as you’ll find when it comes to running a ZBS.

Now I’m not saying everything’s all peachy when it comes to our OL nor do I have any problem with improving the team at any position at any time. More importantly, we do in fact struggle in short yardage situations, running downhill, in the red zone, and to some extent, in pass protection. As to the latter two, all I’ll say is that pass protection would undoubtedly improve by having more than one legitimate WR, as would our red zone damage (looking at you Jon Baldwin). Adding a thumper at FB sure can’t hurt either (I really, really want to believe that Bannon is that guy).

So, to distill all this down, the most glaring flaw in the play of our offensive line lies with its inability to move big, physical defenses off the line when we need or work within short yardage. And quite frankly, small guys like Weigmann and Lilja simply are not built for that kind of work. The solution? How about just substituting bigger guys inside and willing it into reality? In a word, Martyball. I say the more experience that guys like Asamoah and Hudson get in those situations, the sooner they’ll be ready to step in full time and the more likely it’ll be that Branden Albert wins us a Superbowl.

What do you think Addicts? Musical chairs? Rebuild/Replace? Leave well enough alone?

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Tags: Barry Richardson Branden Albert Brian Waters Casey Weigmann Jamaal Charles Jon Asamoah Kansas City Chiefs Rodney Hudson Ryan Lilja Thomas Jones ZBS

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