Anyone following my posts lately might have noticed one constant strand running through all of them: The belief that games are won in the trenches. It makes no sense for an engineer to build a house on sinking ground and NFL teams shouldn't construct offenses around mediocre offensive lines. Pic
Look no further than Kansas City's recent past for evidence of this philosophy.
Not to long ago Chief fans flocked to Kansas City games to tailgate, see old friends, have a good time, and cheer on their favorite players. If the stadium was rockin' then teams better not come a knockin'.
Opposing teams didn't like knocking at the KC door. They didn't like being in our house. And when the opposition did show up...they sure didn't leave happy.
This was our house, our backyard, our neighborhood. We rocked the house to the foundation every Sunday, a foundation that seemed forged by Zeus himself.
That foundation was the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line.
The Chiefs were good because they had a great offensive line. We won the battle in the trenches. Yea, Green was accurate, Priest was agile, and Gonzalez had great hands. But we won because we had people like "Nasty".
Willie Roaf, nicknamed "Nasty" by his teammates, was a perennial pro-bowl player manning the left tackle position. We all can remember Willie hobbling up to the line of scrimmage like a wounded cow.
Then the ball was snapped. Hello Mr. Nasty! Willie Roaf
When that ball was snapped Nasty would absolutely maul defenders. He would lock onto you and drive you into the ground...you just got planted by an old man! Then Willie would hobble back to the huddle for the next call.
But that was not the only story going on each play. Brian Waters...Pro Bowl. Will Shields...Pro Bowl. Casey Wiegmann...great pulling center. John Tait...first round pick. This was no ordinary line.
Someone out there in Chiefs land got us started on this notion that the game was won in the trenches. Marty Maybe?
Marty Schottenheimer brought KC a taste of hope by forging a foundation of his own. He built his house upon the likes of John Alt (pro-bowl 92,93), Dave Szott (all-pro 97), Tim Grunhard (pro-bowl 99), and Will Shields (perennial pro-bowler). KC lined them up and moved them out.
This glimpse back into the Chiefs good years sheds light, I think, to the fact that the success KC has had over the recent past coincides with the great lineman we put on the field. When we had good lines...we had good teams.
Our current Kansas City Chiefs have come to a crossroads, a defining point on how their future will play out. What is Pioli going to do with the current state of the offensive line? Is mediocre going to be good enough? Is the answer simply coaching them up or do we need additional talent?
The Chiefs currently line up Brandon Albert LT (1st round pick, $3.5m), Brian Waters RG (pro-bowler, $4.1m), Rudy Niswanger C ($1.5m), Wade Smith RG ($875k), Ryan O'Callaghan RT ($655k). These lineman should be commended for the amount of work they did through the season to get to the point of being respectable. But is it enough? Do we have enough #1 picks on that line? Does Pioli need #1 picks to construct a a great line.
As I sat and watched the Jets vs Colts game this past weekend I started to appreciate what New York had done to get this far into the playoffs. Yea, their defense played great to get to this point (and you all know what I think about having game-changing defenders). But don't overlook that offensive line.
D'Brickashaw Fergusun LT (1st round pick, pro-bowl 09, $3.4m), Alan Faneca LG (1st round pick, perennial pro-bowler, $7m), Nick Mangold C (1st round pick, pro-bowl 08,09, $730k), Brandon Moore RG ($384k [stud drive-blocker]), Damien Woody RT (1st round pick, pro-bowl 2002, $5.8m).
That's four #1 picks on that offensive line for the Jets. Now that is an organization that built it's house on solid ground in 2009.
On Sinking Ground!