National Football League

Can Patrick Mahomes count on the revamped Kansas City Chiefs offensive line?

April 26

Identifying a team's biggest weakness isn't always a simple task.

But for the Kansas City Chiefs, their Achilles' heel was as glaring as they come in Super Bowl LV.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers bulldozed Kansas City's decimated offensive line en route to a 31-9 win in February, harrying superstar Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the process. 

Mahomes completed just 53% percent of his passes in the Super Bowl loss, registering a career-low 52.3 passer rating as Tampa Bay's defensive line ran roughshod.

Although he was sacked only three times, Mahomes spent the majority of the championship game trying to avoid pressure.

Per ESPN, the Chiefs' QB ran a whopping 497 yards before throwing passes or taking sacks in the game.

Further complicating matters was that Tampa Bay managed to produce the bulk of that pressure without bringing any extra pass-rushers.

The Bucs' defensive line, spearheaded by Shaquil Barrett, got the job done without much assistance.

Of course, Kansas City came into the game without the services of four of its five starting offensive linemen, including both tackles in Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher.

As FOX Sports NFL Analyst Geoff Schwartz accurately predicted ahead of the Super Bowl, the losses on the offensive line proved to be too much for Kansas City to overcome.

Despite a dismal final stat line, the onus certainly didn't fall at the feet of Mahomes. Even his opponents marveled at what he was able to accomplish, given the state of things. 

The offseason priority for the Chiefs became crystal clear, and they addressed it with gusto. First, they cut Fisher and Schwartz, signaling a change at the bookend spots.

Their first big addition came during the legal tampering period ahead of free agency's official opening, when Joe Thuney signed a five-year deal with the AFC champions.

The Chiefs also coaxed Kyle Long, a three-time Pro Bowl tackle with the Chicago Bears, out of retirement to sign in Kansas City.

The team brought back tackle Mike Remmers, added Austin Blythe at center and expects Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to be back in the mix after the medical professional opted out in 2020 to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

What's more, the real coup came last week, when the Chiefs traded for standout tackle Orlando Brown Jr. from the Baltimore Ravens.

Brown slotted in at left tackle for the Ravens following an injury to Ronnie Stanley in Week 8 and didn't miss a beat. According to Pro Football Focus, the 24-year-old didn't allow a single sack or quarterback hit in 389 pass-blocking attempts at the left tackle position.

After proving his mettle on the left side of the offensive line, Brown had little interest in playing right tackle as Stanley got healthy heading into the 2021 season. Thus, the Chiefs and Ravens brokered a trade.

Kansas City's projected offensive line now looks much different than the one that was manhandled in the Super Bowl. Assuming all goes according to plan, Brown will be at the left tackle spot, with Thuney alongside him at left guard. Blythe slots in at center, followed by Long at right guard and Remmers at right tackle.

But have the Chiefs done enough to lock down the Lombardi?

The aggressiveness of the Chiefs to revamp the offensive line impressed Peter Schrager of "Good Morning Football."

Shannon Sharpe of "Undisputed" sees the changes as a big upgrade for the team.

"This is a complete overhaul of an offensive line," Sharpe said. "... They've upgraded their offensive line. I believe their offensive line is better than what it was last year. Are they the team to beat in the AFC? Yes, I do [believe so]. ... I love what Kansas City has done. They're a major player again."

Meanwhile, Skip Bayless still sees Tom Brady & Co. as the team to beat, regardless of Kansas City's offseason improvements.

As of Monday, the oddsmakers at FOX Bet back up Sharpe's argument more than Bayless', though ever so slightly.

The odds show the Chiefs as the Super Bowl favorites at +550, with the Buccaneers second at +750.

There's a long way to go before either of those wagers gets settled, but one bet has certainly been made: The Chiefs are banking on an overhauled offensive line to make the difference.

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