Kansas City Chiefs: 6 Takeaways From Week 15’s Drubbing Of The Raiders

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2. Jeff Linkenbach Earned Another Start

Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tackle Jeffrey Linkenbach (74) on the sidelines in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Linkenbach isn’t the longterm answer, but for the time being, he’s most definitely the short-term solution.

Let’s put this into context: In Week 14, Mike McGlynn started at left guard, and Alex Smith was sacked five times by a pass rush that Pro Football Focus (PFF) currently ranks 29th in the league.

A week later, McGlynn was swapped out for Linkenbach, and the Chiefs faced a nastier pass rush (that PFF ranks 16th overall). Low and behold, though, the sack total dipped to one.

Normally, comparing players throughout a two-week span would be deemed a snap judgment, and rightfully so. An offensive line is comprised of five moving parts, and they all rely upon one another in pass protection. The front five is only as good as its weakest link.

That said, when watching the two guards on tape, the disparities become clearer with each snap.

I’ve been skewering McGlynn since the second game of the season. And week after week, soapbox after soapbox, three of the vet’s flaws continually reared their head: poor awareness, subpar strength and lackluster athleticism.

He consistently failed to identify blitzes and/or stunts. He was regularly bulldozed into the backfield. He rarely anchored and recovered. He was the world’s huskiest scarecrow.

Now, make no mistake: After watching all of Smith’s Week 15 dropbacks, Linkenbach certainly isn’t the second coming of Brian Waters, but his skill set meshes with those around him infinitely better than that of his predecessor.

Throughout the game, he was flagged for one penalty—a hold on Khalil Mack—but was rarely beaten. And even on the occasions in which he was, Linkenbach showed enough athleticism to anchor and recover—or in other instances, steer pursuers away from the pocket.

He kept his head on a swivel, scouting for potential blitzes and stunts, and also disengaged to combo-block more immediate threats when necessary.

No matter how you allocate the credit for last week’s offensive expansion, Linkenbach’s contributions shouldn’t be overlooked.