Importance of the Offensive Line
Name three starting offensive linemen for the New York Giants. Quick, do it. You can’t, right? That’s because the offensive line isn’t glamorous. Their names don’t make it into the box score. Their interviews don’t make front-page news. The only time fans seem to notice offensive linemen are when they mess up – whether it’s a false start or missed block that leads to a sack. According to Pro Football Focus, the Bengals, Broncos and Packers finished the season ranked as the best pass blocking offensive lines in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranked the Eagles, Cowboys and Bears as the best run blocking teams, respectively. It should not come as a surprise that each of these teams finished the season ranked in the top eight in points per game. So while it may be rare for offensive linemen to receive any sort of publicity, the success of the offensive line directly impacts the success of the offense as a whole. With this in mind, lets take a look at how the Chiefs offensive line finished the season and what moves the Chiefs need to make in order to improve for the 2014 season.
2013 Season Wrap-Up
(Image & Info Courtesy of ProFootballFocus)
The Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive line started out slow, but the unit really started to come together as the season progressed despite very little contribution from the Chiefs 2013 number one overall pick, Eric Fisher. Fisher was a massive disappointment, allowing at least one QB pressure in every game he played. Pro Football Focus, a website that grades every play of every game, graded Eric Fisher as the worst of the Chiefs’ starting offensive linemen. In fact, Pro Football Focus’ season rating for Fisher ranks him as one of the ten worst offensive tackles in the NFL.
Other than Fisher, the offensive line was mediocre in nearly every statistical category. Branden Albert had another Pro Bowl-caliber season, Jon Asamoah was much better than many expected coming into the season and, as most fans suspected coming into the year, Jeff Allen and Rodney Hudson were not good enough to hold down the fort on the interior. As the offseason progresses, the Chiefs need to look to make a major upgrade along the interior of the offensive line.
Expiring Offensive Line Contracts
(Image & Info courtesy of Spotrac)
The biggest name on the list of Chiefs offensive line free agents is clearly Branden Albert. With that said, Albert would not be the biggest loss if and when he leaves in free agency. It’s basically a foregone conclusion that the Chiefs will let Albert walk in free agency if for no other reason than they simply don’t have the cap room to bring him back. It’s likely that the Chiefs will go into the 2014 season with Donald Stephenson and Eric Fisher as their starting offensive tackles.
The real losses here are Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah. Asamoah had a solid season as the starting right guard for the Chiefs, but he was benched down the stretch and he doesn’t do anything on an “elite” level. Geoff Schwartz is a different story.
Did you notice that the Chiefs offense seemed to hit its stride in Week 12 in a game that they lost to the Chargers 38-41? It’s no surprise that this was Schwartz’s first start for the Chiefs since Week 4 vs. the Giants. With Schwartz in the starting lineup, the Chiefs averaged 33 points per game. Without Schwartz as a starter, the Chiefs only averaged 19 points per game. There are obviously other factors that go into the scoring differential, but Schwartz’s play was key in Jamaal Charles being able to break long runs and Alex Smith being able to find receivers for big gains. In short, the Chiefs should do everything in their power to re-sign Geoff Schwartz to solidify the right guard spot for the next three to five years.