During the offseason, the Chiefs lost two players of the offensive line before the regular season even began.
First, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the team’s starting right guard for the last five seasons, decided to opt out for the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly after, Lucas Niang, drafted out of Texas Christian in the third round this year also decided to opt out.
Right after Duvernay-Tardif’s and Niang decision, the Chiefs signed former Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele to a one-year deal and he instantly became one of the pillar of the Chiefs offensive line.
After the nightmare against the Las Vegas Raiders in week five, many observers put the blame on the offensive line and the defense for the awful loss.
Changes have been made, and nonetheless to say a big improvement was seen in week 6 against the Buffalo Bills. The stability and strength of the offensive line allowed Clyde Edwards-Helaire to have his best performance so far.
However, before the Bills game, the Chiefs placed starting left guard Kelechi Osemele on IR and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz appeared on the injury report with a back injury, even if he started the game anyway.
Moreover, the Chiefs decided to line up veteran center Daniel Kilgore, who took the starting snaps over regular starter Austin Reiter. After Schwartz’s back injury made him leave the game early, the Chiefs had a brand new offensive line with three unexpected starters.
Left tackle Eric Fisher, left guard Nick Allegretti, center Daniel Kilgore, right guard Andrew Wylie and right tackle Mike Remmers handled the Bills’ defensive and created big holes for the rushing game.
Mike Remmers is undoubtedly the name that most Chiefs fans will already know because, as the sixth man, he’s already helped in the starting five already, replacing some of the big names.
Daniel Kilgore is one of the eldest members of the Chiefs roster, up with Chad Henne. Kilgore was a late August signing by Veach, a move that gave the Chiefs much more experience and security than they had before along the offensive interior, and his skills showed on Monday night.
A younger player, Nick Allegretti remains on the active roster, so the team clearly noticed his potential. He had a monster game on Monday night, and might have earned a permanent spot in the offensive line.
Even Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman was impressed and said it on national broadcast: “I tell you the guy I’m really impressed with is Nick Allegretti, the second-year player out of Illinois, a seventh-round pick, he is just destroying people upfront. He’s just moving people out. This guy’s something. He gets a chance to come in for the bench. He’s making the most of his opportunity.”
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes also saluted the effort of his “bodyguards” — who only allowed one sack and four quarterback hits.
“I think the offensive line really took it personally upon themselves — the light boxes that we’d been facing and the pressure was given up last week — they took that personally this week and you saw it today, they gave good holes for running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to run through. We had to shuffle those guys around and guys stepped up and Clyde really hit it and finished runs well.”
For once the big guys, the offensive line made up of mainly backup players were the stars of the show on Monday.
“They made everything easier for me,” Edwards-Helaire said of his offensive line. “Ultimately, it’s not just me this is a career day for — it’s the entire offensive line… When you have days like this, things just seemed to part like the red sea, and that’s what the offensive line did. I just put my head down and ran. When it was time to make a guy miss or time to run through a guy, I did my job, and that fires up the offensive line. I’m just doing my 1/11th.”
Now the question is, what will the Chiefs do with the offensive line against the Denver Broncos? Will the new guys be rewarded with another opportunity? Schwartz’s injury may actually be the deciding factor. We’ll have to wait and see.
Andy Reid always talks about the next-man-up, it is one of his coaching style totems, and this offensive line really embodied it during their fifth win of the season. They just stood up to the challenge.