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Chiefs' Jah Reid played well against the Ravens

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So when Jah Reid was given a multi-year extension early last week, it cause quite a bit of ... um ... angst.

There was a lot of debate around here regarding Reid's ability and the wisdom of paying him low-end starter or high-end bench money. Frankly, I agreed with a lot of that sentiment. I hadn't taken the time to review Reid at any point this season, but my eyeball test was telling me he was struggling. So it didn't make a ton of sense to pay decent money for him. That said, I wasn't twisted up in knots about the whole deal either. Kind of a big ball of "meh" for me.

But it makes sense to at least get a bit of a feel for the guy the Chiefs are paying as though they want to compete for the starting job at RT now and in the future. Was my instinct that Reid has been the weak link on the offensive line correct?

The only way to find out is to go back and re-watch the film, quantifying wins and losses on both run and pass plays. I did this against the Ravens to at least get a bit of a sample size quantified. I also focused a little extra attention on the three sacks the Chiefs gave up. If Reid is indeed the weak link, it would stand to reason that at least some of the sacks given up were his fault.

I went in expecting a dumpster fire. Sometimes it doesn't totally suck being wrong.

Pass Block Wins Pass Block Losses Run Block Wins Run Block Losses Neutral Win % Loss %
13 5 8 2 24 40.38% 11.54%

So about those numbers ... they aren't that bad.

In the past, I've treated 10 percent as kind of the magic number. If an offensive lineman is losing more often than that I get concerned, especially if he isn't winning on a decent percentage of his snaps or if a lot of his neutrals lean more toward a loss than a win.

With Reid, I fully expected at least 9-10 losses in pass blocking. Maybe more. My eye test had told me that Reid had failed on multiple snaps throughout the game and was a major reason the Chiefs gave up pressure against the Ravens.

The thing is, though, that's not what was happening. Reid DID have five losses, and he's absolutely a player who struggles at times against a good speed rush (and once got dumped by a really nice bull rush). He doesn't have great (or even good) lateral movement, and his hips aren't all that flexible. He's half the athlete Eric Fisher is, and it shows out there.

Reid also has a tendency, as both a pass and a run blocker, to get caught leaning on defenders more than he should. This results in him getting caught off-balance at times when defenders use that against him. It's nothing as bad as what I chronicled with LDT earlier in the season, in that Reid is rarely actually taken off his feet. He just gets caught out of position and ends up scrambling.

The thing is, though, Reid SCRAMBLES. If you could quantify effort this chart would look a whole lot better. Reid hustles constantly. If he gets beat he will chuck himself trying to make sure that it doesn't effect the play. He plays until the whistle and is constantly, constantly, CONSTANTLY looking for someone to hit.

For as much as we turn our noses up at Skip Baylessisms regarding "heart" and "grit" and "toughness" or whatever, the simple truth is that a guy who plays his tail off can compensate to an extent for physical limitations. That doesn't mean a player who doesn't have NFL talent can be a star, but it DOES mean a guy who doesn't look to have starter talent when it comes to lateral movement can pull off a solid game by being willing to throw his whole body sideways to get in the way of a defender who has beaten him.

And for the record, it's not like Jah Reid has absolutely horrendous lateral movement. It's just not at, say, the level of a Donald Stephenson. It's sub average, but not brutally so. Reid makes up for in a few ways:

1) As mentioned, he works like crazy. I didn't see a single snap where I thought "Jah could've worked harder there." That almost never happens during these reviews.

2) Reid shows a pretty good punch and some power in his hands. That allows him to slow down or freeze defenders with a good punch or solid grab.

3) Reid's just a big, big dude. When you're 6'7 and 325 pounds, it creates quite an obstacle for edge rushers to run around. Just by nature of being wide and lengthy Reid forces defenders to take the long route to the QB.

Again, none of this is to say Reid is a stud pass blocker. He's not at this point. But he wasn't bad. None of the three sacks by the Ravens were due to Reid getting beat. Two were on Fulton getting beat almost immediately, the third appeared to be a weird busted screen of some kind.

Additionally, several of the quick pressure from Reid's side I had attributed to him getting beat were in fact overload blitzes where Reid was faced with two rushers and, you know, one of him. There's nothing a tackle can do in that situation to prevent at least one guy from getting immediate pressure on the QB. Watching the game I'd blamed a couple of scrambles by Smith on Reid. It looked like I was wrong. It seemed to be an issue of a blitz simply winning the numbers game.

All told, Reid had an OK day protecting Alex Smith. I can't be sure if that's consistent with how it's been all year (as I said, I went into this firmly convinced Reid was the weak spot in pass protection), but for at least this game he wasn't bad.

Where Reid really earns his money, though, is the running game. Reid had multiple wins as a run blocker and this is absolutely his strong suit. And interestingly enough, it's not just as a "mauler." Reid showed the ability to get to the second level and block on more than one occasion, including this beauty on Charcandrick West's touchdown run.

Reid is a plus player as a run blocker on the many plays, and very rarely has a play where he hurts the cause. It's far and away his best trait as of right now.

I expected that coming into the film review (hey, I was right about something!). What I didn't expect was for Reid to look OK as a pass blocker, with some tools to build on. With Reid's gigantic frame and strong hands, he could absolutely continue to develop as a pass blocker. He'll need to work on his footwork and pad level, as his heavy feet will leave him behind the curve. However, the strengths he brings can (and often do) compensate for his feet.

Remember when I looked at Jeff Allen as a RT and talked about how ugly he won? Reid could take a lesson from Allen on that. But the potential is there. And I can finally understand why Dorsey and Reid were willing to shell out that contract. I THINK (and as always, this is a guess) they may feel like they're buying low on a guy who can help. He needs to be a little better in pass pro before I'm comfortable with him as the long term answer, but I'm a lot closer than I was an hour ago. The tools are there.

We'll have to revisit this again soon. For now, priority number 1 on the line is to get Allen back in at left guard. A massive amount of problems came from that position Sunday, and having Allen back could have the entire line (and through that, entire offense) looking quite a bit better.