The Chiefs face a worrisome situation at right tackle with injuries to both Mitchell Schwartz and Mike Remmers.
Piecing together the offensive line has been an ongoing process for the Kansas City Chiefs all season long. From injuries to opt outs, the front five has involved rotating players and substituting options, trying new ideas and then reverting to older ones. But the Chiefs might face their most significant challenge at right tackle if Mike Remmers’ back injury is a serious one.
On Sunday, the Chiefs were able to put away the Miami Dolphins in a close 33-27 win despite not having Remmers at right tackle for the entire fourth quarter and then some. Remmers left due to a back injury and was designated as questionable to return in the moment of the injury announcement, but the team turned to Yasir Durant at right tackle for the rest of the contest.
It’s quite possible that Remmers is able to bounce right back and play on the road again in Week 15 in what could be the single toughest game on the Chiefs schedule against the New Orleans Saints. If he was designated as “questionable” instead of “out”, then perhaps that’s a good sign that it wasn’t all that serious. Then again, back pain for a lineman can be problematic—in fact, we’ve learned that lesson already from Mitchell Schwartz’s extended absence.
Schwartz, as you likely know, is the single best player along the offensive line, a cornerstone player who has been a first-team or second-team All-Pro in each and every season in Kansas City so far. He was, before his current back injury, also an ironman for the team, with 141 consecutive starts at his position including the playoffs. Then, he experienced back pain that was too much for him to handle in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills.
Chiefs Kingdom hasn’t seen him since then.
Schwartz played only 8 snaps in the Chiefs’ win over the Bills in Week 6, and Schwartz missed his first start in several seasons in Week 7 against the Denver Broncos. Since then, Schwartz has missed seven straight games and is currently on injured reserve, making it impossible to tell when or even if he will come back in 2020.
Remmers was signed this offseason to serve in this very role as a versatile lineman who can plug and play at a number of positions. He began the year as the super-sub, taking over for Cam Erving in that role, and found himself at left guard after Kelechi Osemele was lost for the year due to knee injuries. Two weeks later, Schwartz went down and Remmers went outside for good—that is, until Yasir Durant stepped in because Remmers himself was having back pain.
The Chiefs have already found ways to work around the loss of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (opted out), Lucas Niang (also opted out), Osemele, and Schwartz. They’ve also swapped out Austin Reiter for Daniel Kilgore (and then promptly traded back). Now the Chiefs might find themselves moving forward with their third right tackle for the season in Durant, an undrafted rookie free agent who was a nice story out of training camp.
It’s possible that Remmers returns and all is well—at least until another need arises. It’s also possible that Durant turns the corner with a week of prep and looks the part outside in Week 15. But it’s also possible that the loss of Remmers places too much stress up front for the Chiefs who have been patching holes all season up front.
Patrick Mahomes was under duress all game long against the Dolphins and took several big hits in addition to three official sacks. That could become normalized for Chiefs Kingdom if the line can’t figure out a way to clear this newest hurdle in a season already filled with them.