Grading the Chiefs offensive line in week four

The Chiefs needed a big performance in an early must-win game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. The offense showed up, and the big boys up front dominated all game long.

The Kansas City Chiefs offense is prolific, magnificent, and otherworldly. We knew this long ago, since the day Patrick Mahomes stepped on the field the Chiefs have rarely been outgunned due to the offense not holding up their end of the bargain. Sunday we saw the perfect example of that.

The Chiefs’ defense was horrendous not forcing a punt all game, which meant the offense needed to show up. The offense showed up, Mahomes with 278 passing yards with five touchdowns through the air, Tyreek Hill with three of those scores, along with 186 yards receiving, and of course 200 yards rushing.

Yes, you read that correctly. In a game that Patrick Mahomes threw for five touchdowns, and Tyreek Hill torched Philadelphia all game, the Chiefs still managed to squeeze in 200 yards on the ground. 102 of those yards came via Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who broke the century mark for the second consecutive game, and with just 14 carriers he managed to average an astonishing 7.3 yards per carry.

Helaire was again impressive, but he couldn’t do it without the new and improved Chiefs offensive line, which absolutely bludgeoned the Eagles all game. They set the tone early with a lead iso play. It isolates the play side linebacker, allows for a double team in the middle, and lets the offensive tackles road grade.

For the third consecutive week, the Chiefs faced a team that spread their defense-wide and played two deep safeties to take away the deep ball. This week the Chiefs had the perfect plan, slamming the lightboxes with a flurry of zone runs. This week in particular the Chiefs double team blocks were very crisp on the inside.

Andy Reid is an offensive lineman at heart, so of course, he can draw up a reverse play that initially looks like power, that has four offensive linemen releasing from the line of scrimmage like it was a screen pass. This is a very complex play up front, one that took time and meticulous planning, but the end result was beautiful.

There were a few ugly plays in pass protection, but overall Mahomes had ample time to throw the football and was clean for most of the day. Once again there were a few technical things for them to clean up, but any time Mahomes and the Chiefs air attack hits at the caliber they did on Sunday that usually means the offensive line did their job.

I loved the way the Chiefs closed the game. They kept pounding the ball in the run game, gassing out the defense and killing the clock with every snap. Eventually, the Eagles had enough, and late in the game, they blitzed Patrick Mahomes for one of the first times all game, while actively looking to take away the run game. This left no deep safeties and left Hill one on one.

The Chiefs are putting teams in very difficult positions, and a lot of it has to do with the dominating performance upfront. Here are my final grades for each player and my thoughts on each of them.

Orlando Brown Jr

Brown has quietly shown tremendous improvement in just four weeks of regular season football in Kansas City. It seems that every down in pass protection he looks more comfortable, and is more adjusted to the pass-heavy nature of the Chiefs offense. He still has some work to do when blocking against speed on the edge, but when he gets locked on it is almost over from the start of the play. In the run game, he created giant seams and was throwing people around all game. Andy Reid is getting more and more comfortable with leaving him alone on an island on the left side, and if he can continue this miraculous in-season improvement he will be playing at a very high level this winter.

Joe Thuney

Anyone wondering why the Chiefs gave a guard as much money as they gave Thuney, should be made aware that Joe Thuney just graded out at 100% for the game. He was flawless the entire game. An offensive lineman grading out at 100% for a full 60 minutes is unheard of. The technique he displays play to play is incredible, and he plays the game with a level of effort that is infectious to all of his teammates. He is the leader of this unit, they will go as he goes, and he has come in and helped lay the blueprint for success with the Chiefs OL rebuild.

Creed Humphrey

At some point in his career, Creed Humphrey will be the best center in the NFL. The level he is playing at and the responsibility he has every play this early into his career is astonishing. He has been very good, this week he put on a clinic in the run game, getting push whenever the Chiefs needed it, especially in short-yardage. Movement up the middle is key on short yard downs, and Humphrey was able to deliver whenever the Chiefs needed it. He did give up the first sack, and first pressure of his career, but he bounced back strong and delivered an overall great game. This is just the start of the road, and so far it has been close to elite.

Trey Smith

Trey Smith is getting close to being one of the best guards in football. What he has shown on film in such a short period of time is inching him closer to greatness. We have seen dominant pass blocking, dominant run blocking, dominant double team blocks, but this week for the first time we got to see how the big man blocks in space at the second level and he did not disappoint. He is the complete package of a player. There is not one block he is incapable of making, and as usual, he used brute force to finish his opponents the final whistle.

Lucas Niang

Improvement comes overnight by some, and week by week for others. Lucas Niang is in the latter group, but that being said he still played a very complete football game. He was called for holding and allowed a sack (negated by penalty), but he once again looked solid in the run game. His pass protection did look improved in the second half as he didn’t allow pressure. Niang seems to be struggling a bit to start games, where he seems to be trying to feel the game out. This is just him still adjusting to the speed of the NFL game, but once he gets into the flow of the game he is hard to beat. His hands, bend, and anchor looked good in both the run and pass game. 86% is a good grade to have for a game, but the standard is high on the line, but it looks like he is doing everything he can to compete and improve.

Bonus Clip