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Kansas City Chiefs O-Line Spotlight: Ryan Lilja

KANSAS CITY MO - OCTOBER 31:  The Buffalo Bills line up against the Kansas City Chiefs during the game on October 31 2010  at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY MO - OCTOBER 31: The Buffalo Bills line up against the Kansas City Chiefs during the game on October 31 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Chiefs are at the top of the AFC West.  Can you believe that?  After the last 3 years?

We all know that I believe that games are won in the trenches.  And even though the Chiefs might not have great players at every line position...they do have a line that has been working well as a unit.

One of those players that has come in and improved the overall play of the Kansas City line is Ryan Lilja.  Lilja is a smaller, quicker, agile lineman that is perfect for the zone blocking scheme that the Kansas City Chiefs have employed in 2010...but he also has weaknesses.

So lets put Ryan Lilja under the spotlight.


Performance Perspective

60% or below
70% 80% 90% or above
60% is an indication the lineman was some defenders boy toy.
70% is a rough day in both the run or passing game.  The lineman probably got notice a lot and won't hold a job scoring 70% every week.   
 80% is a solid day for run blocking but only an average day for pass blocking.  Players strive to be above 80% every game.
Player had great game run or pass blocking if they score a 90%. All pro players are consistently in the 90%.


Ryan Lilja
# Drivens
Lineman Grades Each Game





SDie Clev. San F. Indy Houst Jac.
Run Pass 88% 93%
68% 91%
85% 100%
93% 100%
85% 78%
88% 97%

Buff. Oak Denv. Arizona Seattle Denv.
Run Pass DNP DNP
74% 78%
68% 86%
90% 92% 92% 96%
88% 94%

Strength after reviewing the tape:  Solid pass protection.  Ryan Lilja brings a consistency to the Kansas City line that was desperately needed in 2010.  Last year the offensive line was plagued by miscommunication and missed assignments.  This year Lilja has stepped into the right guard position and recorded grades of 90% or above in 8 games. 

Lilja is smart and is not easily fooled with opponent loop stunts or twists.  Communication appears solid and he appears to work harmoniously with the center and right tackle.

Ryan moves well in space and is often called upon to pull both to the left and right sides.  He moves down the line of scrimmage quickly and makes solid contact with opponents in space.  He is also frequently called upon to make second level blocks on assignment in which he is well skilled.

Weakness after reviewing the tape:  The run game is a mixed bag for Ryan Lilja.  He frequently grades out at the 80-90 percent range but sometimes dips into the 60%s.  Ryan Lilja is quick and perfect for the zone blocking scheme that Kansas City is running but  the problem comes when Lilja encounters one of the bigger/stronger defensive lineman.

Lilja has the tendency to get overpowered at times which can be seen by the number of times he has been "driven".  This weakness also rears its ugly head when in short yardage situations.  Drive blocking is not a Ryan Lilja Strength.

Reviewer's Summery:  Lilja is performing at a high level and is a big reason this Chief team is back at the top of the NFL in rushing.  Ryan provides good veteran leadership for his teammate to his right, Barry Richardson, and works seamlessly with fellow veteran Casey Wiegmann

Because of aLilja's lack of ability to drive block it would be best to have a more stout, but athletic, guard opposite him on the line.  This way the Chiefs can utilize Ryan's ability in space and at the same time take advantage of any drive blocking skills the other guard may posess. 

Brian Waters use to to be just that type of stout guard but the years have taken a tole on Brian.  He is still getting the job done but not driving defenders as regularly as he used to in his younger days.  It remains to be seen if Asamoah can be that piece that can step in and run a zone blocking scheme yet drive block when called upon.




The Kansas City Chiefs still need to bring in some new competition for the offensive line in 2011.  The reality of the situation is that both Brian Waters and Casey Wiegmann are getting older and will need to be replaced quickly.  That means the Chiefs need starting caliber lineman to step into those positions when needed and not go through the pains of rebuilding a line because of a lack of depth.

At this point there are no indications that Lilja will move back to his left guard position when Brian Waters retires.  That means if things go as the Chiefs plan then Jon Asamoah might fill in at left guard while Rayn Lilja continues at right guard in the years to come.






Click On "Bewsaf Past Posts" for more past articles

*Chiefs vs Broncos II: Breaking Down The O-Line Tape *Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Spotlight: Matt Cassel

*What Is Wrong With The Kansas City Running Game?


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