The key storyline, outside of Mahomes vs. Brady, seems to be the Chiefs’ hampered offensive line and their ability to keep the 25-year-old QB safe, which they will.
Andy Reid recently called his starting offensive line for his second straight Super Bowl “scrappy,” and that is the perfect description of the rag-tag group that the Chiefs are pitting against the defensive pass rush of Tampa Bay’s Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Lavonte David.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive line has looked different since week 1, with the COVID opt-outs (RG Duvernay-Tardif & 2020 3rd-round pick Lucas Niang) and injuries (OT Mitchell Schwartz, G Kelechi Osemele, and OT Eric Fisher), but over the course of the season it has changed and fluctuated at every position…which is exactly why KC’s starting O-line for Super Bowl LV will not be a problem.
Although the Bucs are 4th in sacks this season and seemingly have one of the healthiest and best pass-rushes in the league, the Chiefs have only allowed the 5th-least amount of sacks in the NFL even with all their offensive line problems throughout the season.
So why shouldn’t Kansas City fans worry about such a (supposed) gap in talent between Tampa’s D-line and KC’s O-line? Because they’ve been proving that they can handle the adversity and the job required of them throughout every snap of the season.
Not to mention Patrick Mahomes can pretty much do whatever he wants with the ball and a five-to-seven step drop in the pocket; all season we have seen him make magic out of collapsing pockets, and with pressure in his face, he still throws the ball with surgical accuracy even while carrying defenders on him.
After the loss of former #1 overall pick, starting LT Eric Fisher, during the AFC Championship game it’s easy to see how and where the Tampa Bay defense might attack the Chiefs on Sunday but Offensive Line Coach Andy Heck and HC Reid aren’t concerned.
ESPN reported earlier this week that Heck and Reid have rotated every member of the offensive line to each position on the line during practice so that every player is prepared for any spot and can be flexed into a position if need-be, not something you typically hear about teams doing the week before the biggest game of the season.
With most narratives revolving around Kansas City’s backup offensive linemen being “too inexperienced” or “unprepared” it’s easy to gloss over the fact that three of the four ‘backup’ linemen protecting Mahomes on Super Bowl Sunday have played over 75% of the snaps this year–LT Mike Remmers (who’s replaced Schwartz since Wk. 7), C Austin Reiter, and RT Andrew Wylie (originally RG).
This hobbled and hungry offensive line is also returning two of their five starting linemen from last year’s Super Bowl where Mahomes was consistently running for his life from the likes of Nick Bosa and DeForest Buckner.
This experience, which seems to be lost on people, on top of the linemen’s ability to flip positions–and do so athletically–will be the make-or-break point of the game, and it will be in the limelight from the opening kickoff till the clock hits triple-zeroes.
But, if the O-line can do what they’ve been doing all season–giving Mahomes more than two seconds in the pocket to make magic–then this Chiefs offense has nothing to worry about other than the occasional drop by a WR.
If the Chiefs line can replicate any of their performances from their 16 wins up to this point in the season, then the Chiefs have the better chance to take home the Lombardi trophy at the end of the game.