Sept. 16, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Kansas City Chiefs center Rodney Hudson (61) snaps the ball to quarterback Matt Cassel (7) during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Chiefs 35 to 17. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

O Rodney, O Rodney, Wherefore Art Thou, Rodney?

Last week’s stats speak for themselves: Kansas CIty Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith completed just seven of sixteen passes. The Chiefs averaged just 3.0 yards per carry, including two scrambles by Smith. The San Francisco 49ers had seven – yes, seven – quarterback sacks, eight hits on Chiefs’ quarterbacks and nine tackles-for-loss. Statistics aside, my memory of last week’s game was Alex Smith ducking, weaving and running for his life.

On more than one occasion, 49ers defenders came in unscathed into the Chiefs’ backfield.

This game was just the second of the preseason. but the 49ers embarrassed us, and it was just their second game as well. But rest assured, Addicts. The problem, and the solution, may rest largely on the shoulders of one person: center Rodney Hudson.

Hudson arrived as a second round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and played 130 snaps in his rookie season – the equivalent of about two full games – but all at left guard. He did get to learn from the great Casey Wiegmann however, with the hope that Hudson would take over for Wiegmann in 2012. With Wiegmann in fact, retiring in 2012, Hudson was primed to take over. He lasted all of one game, breaking his left leg in the second game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Before we get into how Hudson can fix what we saw last week, let’s take a closer look at him. He was a four-year starter at Florida State and a unanimous first-team All American. Hudson was a finalist for the Outland Trophy, annually awarded to the best collegiate lineman in the country. The story that caught my eye though, was this one, from the Orlando Sentinel:

Before Rodney Hudson developed into an All-America left guard at Florida State, he was just a decent high school football player working nights at a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The money Hudson earned went to help his mom and so that maybe he could afford car insurance.

Trickett [Hudson’s Offensive Line Coach] liked Hudson because of the environment he came from…and because Hudson reported for duty at a fast-food joint after spending all day at school and all afternoon at football practice.

Kathleen Hudson said she didn’t need her son to help her financially, but Rodney insisted. She said he took on that job because “he felt like he needed to do something to help.”

Hudson is clearly a character guy. He’s smart, he’s a gamer and he’s a proven winner as well. But let’s be clear: he has started just two regular season games at center in the NFL and essentially played just one full game at that position.

Quarterbacks need to call out adjustments as they walk up to the offensive line. Running backs need to make adjustments when they see blitz packages. But Hudson is the point person to make calls for the offensive line, to tweak or sometimes overhaul the blocking scheme based on what the defense is showing. Hudson is essentially a rookie in this regard, playing in his first few preseason games. Of the Chiefs’ offensive line starters, only Branden Albert is seasoned. Jeff Allen and Jon Asamoah are in their second and fourth year, respectively, and Eric Fisher is a rookie (and switching from left tackle to right tackle!). It’s no wonder then, that the 49ers defense seemed at times to be unblocked.

Hudson played at the highest level of collegiate ball, but at left guard. Let’s give him a chance to learn the position, learn how to read defenses and learn how to make the right blocking scheme calls. It’s not time to panic yet, Addicts. Hudson has the potential to continue the long line of superb Kansas City centers, from Tim Grunhard to Mike Webster to Casey Wiegmann.

Addicts, do you think Hudson will learn to dominate this year?!

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  • Stacy D. Smith

    This is one of the things I was concerned about earlier in the offseason. The Chiefs are still very young along their offensive line.

  • ladner morse

    If Hudson pulls a 2012 on us… the line is a huge mess.

    I’m still waiting for that one big “cut” that another team makes and Dorsey takes advantage of and that player may even come in and be a starter. It’s not just “experienced line depth” that is a potential problem here… it’s “experience” period.

    • jimfromkcj

      Laddie, our cap is so upside down, it is highly unlikely we will improve on what we already have. We might play musical chairs with like players, Baldwin for Jenkins, but if a player with real talent is there we can’t afford them without weakening another position to gain the cap room. In other words we are screwed.

      • ladner morse

        jim… wasn’t it just three months ago that no one thought the Chiefs could afford both Albert and Fisher? When the vets hit the cutting room floor… if Dorsey or Reid sees a player they want on this roster… I expect it to happen.

        • jimfromkcj

          Tell me Laddie, how is the Chiefs going to take a payer released because of cap reasons and pay him what e is worth, without releasing one of our talented players who have bigger contracts. I am going on the assumption that the Chiefs would be reluctant to cut Berry Poe, Johnson, so that leads me to believe that Hali, Jackson and Albert wouild be the most likely targets. I just don’t think when push comes to shove that they would make a move to strengthen one position and weaken another. I still think we are screwed for the immediate future. We will have to play the hand that Pioli dealt us.

          • ladner morse

            Well yes, obviously, someone has to get moved who is owed a lot of money. Let me ask you Jim… how much above average would you rate Tyson Jackson? I’d say barely. Now, how much better would he be than say… Anthony Toribio? Or how about Marcus Dixon or Allen Bailey or Austen Lane (in a platoon situation)? I think there’s a good possibility the Chiefs DE situation turns out better with Jackson playing for another team and more importantly his salary being paid by someone else. While I prefer the Chiefs to take the extra cap space to sign a talented OL…. I understand the Buffalo Bills are wanting to trade FS Jarius Byrd who is one of the most talented Safeties in the league and at age 26….. you can see him and Berry tearing up the league for years to come. However, it would take someone off-setting his 6 Mil per year franchise tender, which he signed earlier this summer. It would take TJ plus… someone else… maybe Kendrick Lewis. That kinda makes sense.

            I have no doubt that “when” not if, the Chiefs new GM and HC find a player they covet… they will find a way. Is Tamba replaceable? I’d say no… but Tyson Jackson? Come on… the answer to that has to be a yes.

          • Jim Harper

            Right you are Laddie! Plus there is also the options of restructuring of other contracts. This could likely been done with Tamba. Give him a couple of years extension, a nice signing bonus, and gain a bunch of cap space. You are exactly right. If they want someone they can find a way to get them.

          • superman_25_58

            They don’t have to weaken any position if the team asks Tamba Hali to be a team player and restructure his contract if push comes to shove right?

  • bill

    So when he got injured he decided to go home and not learn how to make offensive line calls? He’s been in the league long enough to be able to make calls at the line. Maybe he’s not capable or maybe he made the right call and we just got our butts kicked cause the line isn’t very good. With these players we can’t expect them to be better than last year…and they were terrible last year.

    • luke

      Making calls for blitz pickups is a difficult thing to do and it requires a lot of practice reps to learn. Having a broken leg kinda makes it hard to get those reps. And they are crucial because its almost impossible to learn that kind of thing when you aren’t on the field. Give the kid a break. And as far as the line being terrible last year, the ones that stayed healthy played well. Fisher is new so he can’t even be judged by last season and Rodney was hurt which forced Lilja to play center which he didn’t do that overly well.

      • jimfromkcj

        Luke, Jamal Charles, made the Chiefs line look much better than it was last year, and if he gets healthy and stays that way he will make this line look better than it really is. Allen really sucked for the most last year according to the stats and many posters were saying just the opposite. So far our book end tackles are getting beat pretty badly on speed rushers going to the outside and our inner line is getting beat badly on blitizs. What we have to hope for is that it is lack of communication and not lack of talent. You can fix communication, talent takes more like a miracle.

        • luke

          You don’t have to hope for that it is obvious if you watched the last preseason game. 90% of the offensive line issues were due to guys that went completely untouched off the edge.Even a middle school tackle could put a hand on an NFL linebacker as he goes by if he thinks that is his job. It was apparent that the line wasn’t sure who was supposed to pick up the blitz which is lack of communication, which is as you pointed out, very fixable. Another one of the sacks was draughn getting destroyed on a pass block which shouldn’t be a problem come the regular season because jamaal can pick up a rushing linebacker up the middle much better than that.

      • bill

        I don’t see how you think the oline played well. Jamal Charles makes that line look good in the run game. As bad as Matt Cassel was…it wasn’t entirely his fault. He lost his head cause he was running for his life as soon as the ball was snapped for years in KC, just like Alex Smith was against the niners. Im surprised MC is still walking. Besides Brandon Albert. .everyone else to the right was consistently beaten and manhandled…especially JA as Ive never seen someone just get thrown to the ground on several occasions. The center and guards were awful all year…really bad…there is no sugar coating.

  • berttheclock

    E J Holub, Miles, E J Holub

    • Jordan

      I feel like your casting a spell

  • Chris

    Not sure where you got your info, but Rodney did not break his leg against Pittsburgh. We did not played Pittsburgh until the ninth game of the season. It was against the New Orleans Saints when he was injured in the 3rd game of the year. I do hope though that he lives up to his potential as a second round draft pick though. Baldwin was a wasted pick ahead of him and other than Houston I can’t remember anyone solid coming from that draft off the top of my head. Pioli really did miss a lot!

    • RepOurChiefs

      Eric Berry also… but ur right, for a guy with glasses he wss pretty blind.

  • jimfromkcj

    Guys, the question we should ask is why do the Chiefs waste the high picks on potential? While other teams seem to draft a player in the first round and plug them in, we draft projects based on potential. It seems like a lot of bragging on my part, but if the Chiefs had used my mocks in their drafts the last 10 years we would be competeing with any team in the NFL on an even basis. And I bet if you are honest and keep track of the players you have mocked, most of you would say the same. Hudson played at below 300 lbs in college and probably closer to 285. He bulked up to 300 for the combine, but I don’t think he has ever been able to hold that weight. guys who are below 300 for the most part just don’t excel in the NFL anymore. Sure there are a few exceptions, but they are just too few to mention.

    • ArrowFan

      You are complaining about a problem (if there) that was rectified already. Pioli

  • ArrowFan

    It is a good thing we still have BA. Physically Hudson looks great, he is defiantly stronger and bigger than Wigman was in his last year. Lets face it anyone who thought our O-line was going to start the year as one of the best is fooling themselves. The best we can hope for is a veteran pick up for right now, but even at that we will still have a young inexperienced line. The thing to be looking for is not if they make mistakes, it is how they learn from them. Hopefully as the year progresses they learn and improve and by the end of the year they are one of the best units. One thing to remember is we don’t open up the season against the 49′s.

    • jimfromkcj

      Arrowfan, According to PFF we got rid of a highly rated RT. How do you think this line would look if we had kept him and let Albert go and drafted Joeckel for the LT position? By all accounts most everyone said he was the most NFL ready. Or say that we let Hali go freeing up enough money to keep Albert and make him the LG. That would give us LT Joeckel, LG Albert, OC Schartz or Hudson, RG Asamoah, and RT Winston. I like the size and talent of that line, and it would have a good combination of experience and youth.

      • ArrowFan

        Joeckel and Fisher both have something in common they are unproven rookies. I’m very glad that Fisher is not the LT this year. He may or may not become what Dorsey thinks he can. Winston was a good RT but not a world beater. There was something going on between him and the new leadership that we may never know, or he just wasn’t that good and now he has been exposed. I’m just glad that we didn’t trade BA and replace him with Fisher or Joeckel. As bad as our line played last week I can only image it without BA on it right now.

        • Jim Harper

          You might remember he only recently got picked up by Arizona. Lots of teams passed on him besides the Chiefs. We can only wonder why.

      • Jim Harper

        Why are you putting together a line that cannot be put together? Let the coaches and gm’s do their jobs. They do it for a living and are better at it than we are.

  • Calchiefsfan

    The Chiefs got owned by the best front 7 in football. It really wasn’t the 49′s second game of the season in the same sense as the Chiefs. Their D has played together in the same system for several years now. They were picking up where they left off from last year. Meanwhile the Chiefs have 2 new players in a new system and our trying to figure out their assignments. Laddie is right, experience is needed. Experience playing together in this system will hopefully be enough to make a difference as the Chiefs move forward. Everybody looked out of sync last Friday, but then again San Francisco has a way of doing that to a lot of good offenses.. We know there is talent there, let’s see how they develop over the next couple of weeks before we start panicking. The Chiefs weak schedule to start the season might buy them the time needed to get it together.

  • clay simester

    Calm down! We aren’t “screwed”! We don’t have anywhere close to a large enough sample size to make any kind of judgement quite yet. Don’t trip, we’ll be fine! But speaking of adding depth on the cheap, what about Jason Smith? He was the 2nd overall pick in the 2009 draft but has since been cut twice. Getting cut by 2 different teams isn’t exactly promising, but to be taken 2nd overall just a couple years back, the guy has to have something going for him. I’m sure he could be signed for next to nothing, at least for depth if nothing else

  • robjeromy

    Yes I’m panicked… I know its the preseason and all but as a lineman you should know how to block… Alex is not the type to run for his life while throwing… SMH

  • NicholasAlanClayton

    This is actually why I was downplaying the line’s performance in my piece this week. It’s pretty clear that most of the pressure was due to confusion and miscommunication, not due to the line actually being overpowered. Obviously that’s not necessarily a good thing, but the former is much more fixable than the latter and is understandable when you have a line as young as this one is. This is going to be the biggest thing to watch this week at Pittsburg, but I’m not too worried yet.