In part three of our five-part, Chiefs 2013 Camp Preview, CC Columnists Connor Dawson and Desmond Bailey discuss the outlook of the Chiefs offensive line:
DAWSON: Maybe the most important part of a football team is the offensive line. With the Chiefs, we have some interesting stories involving the offensive line. One that I want to focus on is the development of our guards. In particular, I want to focus on Jeff Allen and Jon Asamoah. As I’ve written in the past, I think that guard play is one of the determining factors of whether or not an offense is successful or not. With these two guys presumably being the starters, we need to watch them closely in camp.
With Allen, he had a fairly strong rookie year and he seems to be excited about 2013. He needs to show improvement in his pass protection if he is going to hold his spot over newly acquired Geoff Schwartz. Schwartz is going to be serving mainly as a role guy, but if Allen struggles protecting the passer we could see Schwartz step in quickly. With Asamoah, he is a staple of the offense. I expect him to breakout in 2013 and finally see some national recognition. I’m a huge fan of Allen and Asamoah, but they have to prove their worth to Andy Reid in training camp or they will lose their job quickly.
BAILEY: Connor, I couldn’t agree with you more on Asamoah. Pro Football Focus has him as one of their “Secret Superstars”. I like that he’s a steady and stabilizing force at right guard. It’s early for the Will Shields comparisons but they are an inevitability if Asamoah continues on this path.
Where I disagree with you, Connor, is the idea that Schwartz is merely a “role guy”. I think he’ll soundly defeat Allen in camp and start at left guard. Allen was horrible last season in both run blocking and pass protection. I’ve no doubt Reid and Chiefs GM John Dorsey identified Allen as a weak link when they evaluated the team and thus brought Schwartz in via free agency.
CONNOR: Only time will tell about Allen, Dez. I think he was thrown into the game far to quickly last year, but I think we saw a solid player at times. One thing about Allen is that he needs to polish his footwork. With the help of Reid, I think that Allen could be in position to be the guy at left guard in 2013. If not, though, we do have Schwartz who has proven himself in the past. It was be an interesting story to watch in camp.
Another focus though has to be at the tackle position. Although the tackles are pretty well set with Branden Albert and Eric Fisher, it will be interesting to see how Albert responds to not getting the long-term deal he wanted. We have all seen the ego of NFL players and I hope that Albert’s doesn’t get the best of him. Fisher still needs to be signed, but I think we have a great couple guys at each side.
BAILEY: Fisher owned all comers down in Mobile, Alabama during the week of practice leading up to the Senior Bowl. The talent is definitely there. But the kid has his work seriously cut out for him this season against the likes of Von Miller (twice!), J.J. Watt, and Demarcus Ware amongst others. We talked about Asamoah earlier and I think it’s key that he’ll be able help Fisher at times with some of these elite pass rushers the Chiefs have on their schedule this season. The real cog of the o-line, however, is center Rodney Hudson.
DAWSON: Hudson needs to be healthy. That is all that matters. If he is healthy, I think he will turn some heads and people will see that this guy is a really good center. With not much depth behind him, I’m not sure that the Chiefs can afford him to get hurt.
BAILEY: You’re absolutely right. Hudson’s essentially the quarterback of the offensive line and it’s imperative that he’s in there on a week-to-week basis. Chiefs fans should be showering this O-line with prayers and well-wishes of good health because the entire team will only go as far as this offensive line will take it.
Next: On Thin Ice….returning players in danger of not making the roster.