Kansas City won their first playoff game sin over twenty years in 2015. For the second straight season, the Chiefs watched as the Super Bowl was won by a team they had beaten soundly during the regular season.
The trajectory of this franchise has been on the rise since the Reid-Dorsey regime took control. They’ve had ups and downs, but the trend is heading in the right direction. Now they need to fill holes left by player departures and upgrade their short comings.
On the Check with Me Podcast this week, we talk through the possibilities along the Kansas City lines and in the secondary.
Here’s the show:
John Dorsey and the team leadership have done the bare minimum to in at least one area of concern for the 2016 roster. They have made a one impressive acquisition and trimmed some fat, but don’t be lulled by those actions. They have chosen to take a risk on the offensive line.
Adding free agent Mitchell Schwartz was very good move that will solidify the right edge. Activating the 5th year option on Eric Fisher will give the team time to further evaluate and negotiate with Fisher to work the left edge in the future.
That’s where it gets murky.
The interior of the Chiefs offensive line is the soft spot. While center Mitch Morse holds the point, the team has to find a guard tandem that is athletic and has the potential to improve in 2016. While right guard has one good option already in place, it will be a tall order to fill the left guard position in particular.
The Right Man for RG
With Mitchell Schwartz outside and Mitch Morse at center, the right guard in a position that will be well supported in 2016. With the right player in place, the right side could become dominant in the AFC West as well as in the AFC Playoffs.
With Zach Fulton as the backup at RG/C, Jah Reid is the best option to start at right guard for Kansas City. Red has the two cornerstones to be successful at the position in this offense; experience and athleticism. He showed well at both right-side positions in 2015 and is more than likely to be one of the “5-best” for Kansas City, barring a new high-end acquisition.
Battle on the Left
The most interesting and critical competition of the coming season with be between 3rd-year guard ‘Doc Larry’ Duvernay-Tardif and rookie Parker Ehinger.
The two players are very similar on the field. Both are good-size, athletic and bring some grit to their play in the trenches. Both have trouble with powerful players and difficulty anchoring against bull rushes. Barry Rubin’s weight room is where this battle will begin.
In this contest, each has an advantage that is clear to see on film. Duvernay-Tardif has 2 full seasons in the the Chiefs’ offensive system. He played on the left his rookie year, prior to starting on the right last season. Coming from low-level competition in college, he still has some adjusting to complete for the NFL level.
Ehinger has natural football IQ and instincts. His jack-of-all-trades career at Cincinnati and experience will quality D1 competition make him well prepared to step in a play at a high level, in a way similar to Morse in 2015.
Whatever the outcome of the line competition, the goal is simple: put out an offensive line that is an upgrade over the 2015 group. Alex Smith has more weapons at his disposal than ever. The line will be a determining factor in 2016. Time will tell if the gamble pays off.
Who is the best option at left guard?