Blame Chiefs’ line issues on coaching, not talent…


Through the first four games of the season, the punching bags for the Kansas City Chiefs issues continues to be the offensive line, and while they certainly as a group have not performed well, many of the issues can be blamed on coaching, and the cure to the issues may very well be patience, not a shakeup. We’ll explore that, as well as examine the next four games of the season.

Communication and cohesion are maybe the foundation of a good offensive line. Former coach Dick Vermeil turned Kansas City into a city that loves an offensive line more than maybe any other city with any other position group. Never mind this team used so many resources they were unable to have any ability to develop a semblance of a defense, rendering much of what the vaunted offense accomplished moot. Also, the aspect that is never really mentioned about those offensive line is the cohesion of that unit.

This group started game after game after game together, and knew what the big guy next to them was going to do and how they would react. Guess what this Chiefs offensive line has not been allowed to do, that’s right, develop any form of cohesion.

This past weekend was the first time this offensive line unit was able to take the field together. As Reid continued mixing and matching offensive lineman through camp and into the preseason, players were unable to get used to playing alongside one another.  As a result, issues with communication show themselves in missed assignments, sacks, and poor offensive play.

When we examine the history of Andy Reid, these issues play themselves out. Quarterbacks who have played for Reid have a tendency to be sacked often. As we look at the numbers provided to us by the website, Reid’s quarterbacks have been sacked  less then 40 times in a season only twice, in 2011 (32 sacks) and 2009 with 38 sacks. In his first two seasons as the head coach of the Chiefs, quarterbacks have been sacked 41 times in 2013 and 49 sacks in 2014.  Simply put, these numbers for Reid are not good.

If we go back and look at the game film from many of the games, it shows a lack of continuity and communication which leads to confusion which leads to Alex Smith on the ground. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this, but defenses are attacking this line, especially the interior. Playing musical chairs with the right side of the line when you are starting a rookie center who really didn’t play much center in college isn’t exactly a recipe for success. The centers job of calling out lineman and blitzers are compounded by the fact that NFL teams are good at disguising who’s coming and who’s dropping into coverage, again compounded by the issues or a rookie who never had to determine these issues in college.

The other issue is the quarterback. Alex Smith, he gets sacked often. During his run in San Francisco, behind what many believed to be a really good (and should be noted really expensive offensive line). In 80 career appearances with the 49ers,  Smith was sacked a total 196 times, averaging out to just less then 2.5 times a game. Since coming to Kansas City, in 34 appearances, Smith has been sacked a total 102 times, averaging three times a game.

For comparison, in their careers again pulling from,  Falcons QB Matt Ryan,  has been sacked on average, 1.7 times per game. Manning is at 1.1, Andy Dalton at 1.8, Tony Romo at 1.6, Brees is at 1.5. Obviously, and the numbers bare it out, Smith takes a lot of sacks.

Lets hope Reid allows the offensive line to work together, develop and grow together. Not saying they are or will be a great unit, but if players are shuffled in and out of the lineup like they have been, this line doesn’t have a chance.  Also, before we go and run the line down even further, keep in mind that Jamaal Charles is again averaging an insane 5.2 yards a carry and on pace to rush for over 1200 yards, Maclin is on pace to exceed 100 catches and over 1500 yards for the season.

This offense is doing some things. They are just  having issues scoring touchdowns. This line isn’t great, but then again, it’s a different line every week. Maybe if the Chiefs run the same line out there for awhile, and in practice, this line can get better and more cohesive, and Smith can stay up right. We’ll see.