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Chiefs Offensive Line Must Improve Even With Injuries

Chiefs Offensive Line
(Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire)

After the big win in Foxboro, the Chiefs offense looked to be the well-oiled machine the entire fan base had been hoping for since head coach Andy Reid came to town in 2013. That win, however flashy and glorious it was, was made possible by the foundation of the Chiefs offensive line. At close to full strength, the line allowed 3 sacks to the Patriots defense.

Moving to week two, the offensive line did fine against a taut Eagles defense that racked up 4 sacks (NFL.com), but they took a hit in losing center Mitch Morse. That hit could have been bigger if not for the dependable play of backup Zach Fulton. Morse didn’t require surgery but has missed a few weeks to this point.

Week three was a little bit more iffy. KC’s offensive line allowed 5 sacks and 3 of those were to Melvin Ingram. Overall, I’d consider line play to be “fine but not as fine.” This was the first week that most around the Chiefs Kingdom, including myself, began to worry that the one thing standing in the offense’s way was the very foundation it was built on.

A quick look at the Chiefs News for this past week after the Chiefs win over the Redskins

And then week four happened. The Chiefs were able to beat the Redskins, however ugly that game was with the front five. Missing multiple starters really hurts the continuity of the line. A quarter of the season in and the Chiefs have yet to have all their starters play a single play together. And to top it all off, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif went down with a knee injury in the first series. The Chiefs announced LDT has a sprained knee and is day-to-day, but he’s been ruled out of tomorrow’s game.

Now the sky isn’t falling based solely on losing Duvernay-Tardif, but it could be soon. If Kansas City suffers anymore injuries to an offensive line already relying on only two of four active backups: Jordan Devey and Zach Fulton. Cameron Erving is the third option and now first reserve though Parker Ehinger is close with his recovery from a knee injury last season.

To say that the type of offensive line play displayed in week four cannot happen in week five is an absolute understatement—not if this team wants to keep Smith’s health and bones intact. According to Pro Football Focus, the Chiefs line has allowed 7 sacks, 3 quarterback hits and 32 hurries on 145 passing plays. The reason this is different than the stats you may see on NFL.com is that PFF grades each sack. Smith has been sacked multiple times this season that they blame him for the sack rather than the line.

The Matchup

These two teams have a lot of history just within the past two seasons. The last four meetings were played in Houston, and the Chiefs hold that overall, 3-1. But that one loss is the most recent and the most painful as Houston held Kansas City to four field goals and the Chiefs’ offense all but imploded.

The Texans’ defense is coming off of a dominant showing against division contender Tennessee. The Chiefs offense has to be able to stop a potential Deshaun Watson repeat from that Titans game. Plus, every team wants to knock off the only undefeated team left in the league—it’s the ultimate motivator.

Eric Fisher (back) is not listed on the injury report and will play. Mitch Morse (foot) and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (knee) did not practice and have been ruled out. The Chiefs can win this game. If Kansas City can get four of their five starting linemen back, the Kingdom should feel confident about going 5-0.

After that, the only thing left to do is teach guard Bryan Witzmann how to dance.

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Nicole's dream is to be an NFL sideline reporter and sports reporter/anchor for a major network. Currently, she is a sports reporter with KALB-TV in Alexandria, Louisiana creating the beginnings of her professional dream. Nicole says stay tuned, y'all. (It's funny because it's Southern.)

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