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John Schneider picks cohesion over talent for offensive line effectiveness

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs aren't the only team facing questions about their offensive line. It's a league-wide problem. Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider had some interesting things to say about the overall unit at the NFL Combine that warrant further consideration.

"I think cohesion is really... when I look at offensive lines, and the really good offensive lines that I have been around, cohesion and being able to play together moreso than the pure talent of a guy," said Schneider at the Combine, "that is really quick or super flexible or rates specifically in an athletic manner.

"So to me it's about finding that right combination and having those guys who are smart and tough and reliable enough to work with coach [Tom] Cable and just work as a group in unison and be able to work with all of the adiustments that are coming and the blitzes and the adjustments in the running game.''

While that odd stretch of run-on sentences takes a moment to decipher, it's clear Schneider was comparing the importance of cohesion to the importance of overall talent. Cohesion, he seemed to say, is at least as important and arguably even more important than getting the best performers in specific Combine drills.

If you've been a Chiefs fan for at least a while, you'll recognize how valuable it was to largely have the same dominant line for several years in a row during the team's success under Marty Schottenheimer. Guys like Will Shields or Casey Wiegmann or Brian Waters not only held down their specific positions for several years, but they also enjoyed knowing the player next to them inside and out. It's that sort of familiarity that allows players to follow their instincts, cover blind spots and trust the offense completely.

It's also the lack of cohesion that has made the Chiefs success last year so remarkable. The versatility of the Chiefs players, and the depth of the bench, made it possible for players like Zach Fulton to start at center and continue to team's winning streak. Multiple players played multiple positions and the Chiefs moved on. It wasn't an ideal scenario, but it somehow worked.

It would also, however, be foolish for the Chiefs to count on the same thing happening again.

So what does this mean for the current offseason? Does this mean that retaining Jeff Allen is more important than we might realize? Does this mean that Dorsey's willingness to let so many offensive linemen walk in free agency early in his tenure has hurt the team? It's impossible to know one way or the other.

What I do take from this is that I hope Eric Fisher is able to figure things out and occupy the left tackle role for the Chiefs for some time to come. I also hope Mitch Morse's early concussions are outliers in what will be a long, productive and healthy career. The same could be said of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif for the right guard role, and perhaps even Jeff Allen if he is re-signed.

Or maybe it's time to bring in one more decent investment along the line before we expect them to lock arms for the long-term. If so, here's hoping they finally find a unit who can build the sort of cohesion that moves them from a good line to a great one.