Kansas City Chiefs: Five lessons learned from Week 10 against the Cardinals
Offensive Line Struggled
The offensive line unit as a whole has been through the wringer this season losing key players for long periods of time. Center Mitch Morse has been in concussion protocol missing now four games, right guard Laurant Duvernay-Tardif was placed on Injured Reserve earlier this season, and backup center Jordan Devey played one game with a torn pectoral muscle before finding himself on IR as well.
Last season was similar to the Chiefs lost both Morse and LDT for a significant time. The difference between the two seasons is that while the offensive line unit struggled tremendously last season, the unit has excelled despite the major injuries with the first year starting players stepping up and playing a big role in the offense. Both guard Andrew Wylie and center Austin Reiter have played at a high level in their respected roles so far.
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Kareem Hunt has his most success when running between Reiter and Wylie. On four carries between the center and right guard, Hunt tallied 53 yards on the ground including three first downs and three for ten or more yards. While Morse being injured keeps Kansas City from pulling in the running game, the Chiefs have been more of a mauler group pounding in up the middle with Reiter and Wylie up front.
While Wylie had a couple of plays where he struggled and allowed some pressure on quarterback Patrick Mahomes, he still wasn’t the worst lineman on the field come Sunday. Despite both Wylie and Reiter giving up a sack against the Cardinals, the left side of the offensive line was where most of the struggles came from for Kansas City. Much of that had to do with Chandler Jones matching up against Eric Fisher. Jones was the sack leader a season ago, and likely the best opponent that Fisher will face all season.
Before Sunday, Fisher had only given up a single sack this season according to my charts. He doubled that going against Chandler Jones, an All-Pro and Pro Bowler from a year ago where he led the league in sacks.
That doesn’t excuse the poor performance from Fisher as he allowed five pressures, a couple of hurries, and two sacks. While left guard Cam Erving wasn’t much better with his two hurries, he didn’t allow a sack this game. The sack just before halftime was solely on Patrick Mahomes for holding onto the football for too long which makes the count to five sacks.
The Chiefs line had only allowed 12 sacks all season coming into this matchup. Giving up five against the Cardinals was absolutely uncharacteristic, but once again is the toughest competition by far that the team has faced to this point. Head coach Andy Reid chalked up most of the issues in the first half from the offensive line as communication errors instead of being the physical matchup of the Arizona pass rush.
Kansas City cleaned up in the second half not allowing Patrick Mahomes to be constantly under pressure with more chips coming out of the backfield. While I believe the line will be in better sync this upcoming week, it’s a unit to keep an eye on with the Rams interior pass rush that could give these young guys problems.