From the FanPosts -Joel
If you're a Chiefs fan, you're probably finding some bourbon this afternoon. The Chiefs are losing two starters from their offensive line. But most importantly, they're losing veteran leadership on that line.
Although it's rarely reported on telecasts or ESPN roundtables, offensive line chemistry and "rhythm" might be the most important components of creating a winning team. In fact, when you listen to playoff commentary, someone will mention how long the offensive line starters have been there.
So why would a veteran coach (Andy Reid) and a man heralded for being a player's GM (John Dorsey) allow a playoff team allow a situation like this ... ?
The framework for Asamoah and Schwartz exiting was created last year
One thing that I've stressed for the last year is that Andy Reid is not trying to clone his teams in the McNabb era (or the DeSean Jackson / Maclin / Vick / McCoy era) . One of the best comments you can make for Reid is that he adapts his offense around the quarterback and weapons available. His playbooks are large and he will hold high percentage training camp plays for end of season match-ups.
He might be an old dog, but he likes new tricks.
Chris Ault / Pistol
The Colts / Chiefs playoff game featured - at minimum - 30 percent new plays. Many of them had a similar philosophy to the Pistol offense Chris Ault ran at Nevada. Especially in goal line situations.
Although the Chiefs might not be a 100 percent Pistol, they are building the right pieces of a Pistol offense around Alex Smith / Jamaal Charles. And to note - Ault has created the genre of Pistol, Andy Reid is using his knowledge to create plays within it.
Most of the run plays in the Pistol require the line to confuse the free safety and close out "pass" linebackers. Also, with a running quarterback like Smith you'll want designed runs to have a quick lead blocker for Smith so he doesn't have a linebacker killing him.
There are two types of offensive line schemes.
POWER (traditional) - During the draft, the biggest names on an offensive line are a fit for the power game. Most high schools and major conference colleges prefer a power scheme (Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, etc). The idea is simple and effective. You have five strong, big men match up with a defensive counterpart and keep them away from the ball. To note, power has won almost every Super Bowl over the last two decades.
ZONE (new age) - Zone relies on eyes, stance / angles, rhythm, footwork and technique. Some people try to state that the zone lineman is maybe smaller than powerful. That's an urban legend. They have to be in incredible athletic shape. The ultimate goal of this lineman is to THROW DEFENDERS OUT OF THEIR ZONE.
Many times zone blockers will be smaller because they are more FLEXIBLE. LESS FAT = MORE FLEXIBILITY. They must have the ability to PUSH AWAY a defender whereas power blockers want to push down and (more or less) hold a defender away.
Most teams will run variations of both zone and power. But based on talent, they'll usually prefer one over the other.
The more you open up the Pistol playbook, the more you'll want your offensive line to be able to play in a Zone System.
Brandon Albert - Whether he was trying to keep himself healthy for the free agency period, Albert started to have injuries throughout this season.
Jon Asamoah - His athleticism has been hurt over the last few years.
Geoff Schwartz - Seven starts in three years. Schwartz's emotion is always on the field, but his athleticism might not be worth the contract he's receiving.
None of these three have the footwork / rhythm that you look for going into the draft.
If a move should be made for the Chiefs, it should be now instead of in desperation. Reid must stick to his guns and come here to develop the best potential offense around Alex Smith. And that goes BEYOND putting better wide receivers around him.
Chemistry starts around the leadership of Eric Fisher. But more importantly, you don't have to teach veterans new drills after they've maximized their potential in completely different schemes that they've physically changed their bodies to adapt to. This is no different than asking Ben Roethlisberger to start running the option.
Benefits to the change
- The AFC West has young defenses and some of them even lack talent. Even when it comes to the playoff teams ... the best defense is likely in KC or maybe Cincy. Everyone talks about the speed of the game being a problem with first contract players ... well the zone is speedier.
- Speedy backs like Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis can use their straight line speed to start up momentum. Teams are going to focus on the RUN creating less coverage for UTILITY PLAYERS (that will be a later post). You can also speed up or slow down the game with no huddle plays.
- Whereas a power base line will slowly wear down the STAMINA of a defensive line, a zone line will make defenses feel more pain. Defenses are going to have a higher amount of nerves around a well conceived zone. They have to watch out for chop blocks and ankle injuries. Instead of facing a large boulder, they have to go through 2-3 to get to the QB.
Smith is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league. He's a poker player that goes by the rules more than the gut. Plays like this make quarterbacks like Smith very happy. The more he uses odds and statistics to make his decisions the more fluid the Chiefs offense will look.
From a practice standpoint
Power blockers have chemistry on a competitive level. But at the end of the day, each man has a job. And when a player on the line screws up, he's held accountable.
Zone blocking, 80 percent of individual practice drills within zone blocking require 2-3 linemen practicing against defenders. They have to work together in the tape room as well as in pre-snap.
The Pistol offensive line should look like a well choreographed dance on the field. Each player has a job. And with practice and rhythm these players become assassins to a defense.
When installing this system, the longer you have the "core" of your players together the better the system works. Replacing one player at a time is okay, but it becomes more difficult if you have lose three starters at once.
Reid believes in coaching to help great players become spectacular. Throughout the draft and maybe free agency he'll develop a centerpiece and identity for this offense that we've never seen before. The first half of next season might not be pretty. There are going to be bumps in the road. But 2015, 2016, and so on might have an amazing potential. Teams without the proper talent will struggle to handle these schemes.
Andy Reid will likely want the best of both worlds when it comes to the zone. This might mean first and second round players with the athleticism to play in both systems is in play. When you look at the draft, look for footwork and athleticism - and little to no wear and tear.
Players like Zack Martin become a must grab for the Chiefs. Martin has a great football IQ and would be a solid fit as a guard in the scheme the Chiefs are running. He's also a chemistry guy (former captain). Even though the Chiefs don't have Peyton Manning and Jamaal Charles' health might not last forever, they have a chance at being a 32 points per game franchise within 2-3 years.
Players like Marcus Martin (USC) , David Yankey (Stanford) could be in the mix as well.