I've spent a lot of this offseason watching offensive linemen do offensive linemen stuff, and then writing to ya'll fine folk about it.
I've written about Mitch Morse, LDT, Zach Fulton, Jeff Allen, and Mitch Schwartz so far. While writing about them, I've drawn some conclusions about what I think is the most likely starting lineup for the Chiefs next season. As many of you may know, I believe we'll see Fisher / LDT / Morse / Reid / Schwartz on opening day. I personally, if nothing changes, would prefer Fulton to LDT, but I think Reid and company go the other way.
It wasn't until the Fulton film review dropped last week that I realized I had never reviewed Reid's other game at guard and actually written about why I believe he's the superior choice over LDT or Fulton. That's... uh... my bad? Call it a minor oversight in a life full of chaos (I've got 5 kids, man. Give me a break. As I type this two of my middle ones are trying to kill each other not 15 feet away from me. My money's on Isabelle, but I digress).
Anyway, since I've referenced my preference for Reid so many times, I guess the onus is on me to explain why. To do so, let's do a little mini film review session. Jah Reid only spent two games at guard for the Chiefs that I'm aware of, against Houston and against New England (well, the vast majority of one game and all of another. But two sounds better, no?). But it's worth talking about what we saw in those two games that MIGHT be indicative of what he can bring to the line if he gets the nod.
As always, if you've read these before, skip this next part. If you're new, here's what we're doing...
I watch each snap on all-22 (Madden view is great for OL review) and track the following: pass block wins, pass block losses, run block wins, run block losses, and neutral plays.
A win is where the lineman clearly stops the rusher or eliminates a run defender. A loss is when the lineman gets beat (kinda obvious, no?). A neutral play is where the lineman holds his own but doesn't do enough to win, or the play goes another direction so quickly he isn't asked to do much, OR if a lineman spends the snap as help double teaming defenders (not really winning individually if you've got help).
The most important number is loss percentage. On what percentage of plays are you getting beat? Generally, I've found the goal to be 10 percent. If you can keep your loss percentage under that number, you're a doing a solid job. A little over is acceptable, but once you start ranging too far over 10 percent it's time to worry. Win percentage is less important, but can separate a good performance from a great one.
Starting off, let's take a look at LDT's numbers. Remember, these numbers are going to be tinged with subjectivity (though I tend to grade more harshly than most, to avoid homerism), and shouldn't be treated as some kind of final say on what a player does. They are useful for the sake of comparison, since they're all measured by the same guy, but they aren't the end all be all of what an offensive lineman is. that said, here's how Reid did in his time at guard.
|Game||PB Wins||PBLosses||RB Wins||RB Losses||Neutral||Win %||Loss %|
Now, I can't stress strongly enough that this is a limited sample size. 7.7 is just not enough data here to see if these types of numbers are a pattern with him (and there's enough variation in that win percentage to suggest not all of these numbers are going to be what we see from him constantly). BUT... it's what we've got.
And one benefit to all this is who the Chiefs played in those back to back weeks. They went up against a Texans defensive line that features a lot of powerful players, and a New England front seven that blitzes from all over the map. This at least allows us to see how Reid does against a couple different types of looks.
The only thing I'd really note about those numbers is that Reid's loss percentage in both games is well below my magical 10 percent mark, and his total loss percentage ends up a full 4.1 percent superior to Fulton and a whopping 6.6 percent better than LDT. Over the course of a game, you're talking about a 2-4 snap difference. That is MASSIVE when you're talking about losses for offensive linemen, which tend to torpedo plays before they even have a chance.
Again, this is a small sample size, but the truth of the matter is that even if you took the best two games of the season for LDT and matched it up against Reid's two game sample, Reid still comes out ahead in terms of loss percentage. Fulton would be at a similar number, but it has to be noted that one of those games was against an absolutely pathetic Chargers defensive line (though, to be fair, the other was against the Bengals, so... yeah).
So yes, it's a small sample. But what this means is that Jah Reid, playing unexpectedly on wildly short notice (he came in during the second quarter against the Texans, remember) and at a position where he saw limited practice time and NO snaps prior to this point (he had played at RT previously)... put up two solid games against playoff-caliber competition. That's impressive however much you want to dismiss it for being a small sample size.
There's a lot to like about Reid's film at guard. First and foremost, he has by FAR the nastiest attitude of any of the linemen I've reviewed to date.
Jah Reid (RG) has the most attitude in his game of any of the OL I've watched. One of my favorite things about him. pic.twitter.com/DcLGBknluQ— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) May 22, 2016
On this play, Reid does an OK job finishing his end of the combo block with Fulton, preventing the defender from getting loose and impacting the play. While he doesn't completely wall off his man, he travels with him and continues to block as the defender moves laterally toward the ball. Because he's being harassed and hindered by Reid, the defender can't make it in time to do much.
What I REALLY like, though, is the finish. You see that with Reid time and time again. More so than any other blocker I've watched Reid has a desire to bury people. I noticed it consistently in both games he was at RG, as well as the non-graded games where he played RT. The Chiefs need someone with that kind of attitude on the line.
Reid couples that attitude with a decent amount of power. He's not as obviously strong as Zach Fulton, but he possesses a solid punch and (seemingly) ridiculously long arms for a guard. He does a nice job neutralizing rushers with that combination when left one on one. His strength doesn't always translate into being an earth-mover in the run game, though. How much push he gets varies snap to snap. But he's very, very, very rarely overpowered and walls off his defenders consistently.
One good time to see natural strength is when other things go wrong, like this play.
Reid isn't as powerful as Fulton, but he's got some strength and long arms. Holds off rusher even with poor footwork pic.twitter.com/5IBk1F5cIc— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) May 22, 2016
This isn't necessarily a highlight for Reid, considering the really messy footwork he displays on that play. BUT, what it does demonstrate is that even when Reid has less than ideal (or even terrible) footwork, he's got enough natural upper and lower body strength (particularly in those arms) to hold off Alan Branch, a very powerful lineman who is listed at 6'6" and 324 pounds.
The ability to hold your own when everything else isn't going right is a good way to separate guys with natural strength from guys who are reliant on technique to win.
Speaking of technique, despite what you see above, Reid's isn't terrible when it comes to his footwork. While he's no Mitch Morse (or even close), he usually does a decent job keeping a wide base. Also, his pad level is generally pretty low, which is a big deal considering how tall he is for a guard. Reid will never be confused with a great technician, but over the course of the games I watched him at guard I didn't see him with the same consistent technical issues I saw with LDT.
Reid is also lighter on his feet than you'd think with a guy who is listed at 6'7 and 325 pounds. Make no mistake, he's never going to be mistaken for a dancer. His lateral movement is not good. I believe this is why he looks worse on the edge than he does on the interior. The man just does not kick slide well. But when he's asked to get out and space or run along the line of scrimmage on a stretch play, he's got some move in him.
Reid is faster than one would think moving in space, or laterally on stretch plays. Much better than Fulton at it. pic.twitter.com/F4NE3Oao2b— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) May 22, 2016
This isn't an overall good play for the Chiefs, as West gets stuffed for no gain. But I show this play to demonstrate the fact that Reid isn't a statue. He gets moving laterally along the line of scrimmage, staying with his man just enough to make a block at the end of the play before his defender can really impact anything. Reid is not close to the athlete LDT is, but he's definitely a step up from Fulton in that department.
This matters, because (as we've discussed) it's Fulton's lack of foot speed and overall athleticism that holds him back, both as a pass blocker and a run blocker. You give Fulton average feet (or quick enough recognition skills to compensate for his slow feet, which COULD happen) and he's a very solid offensive lineman. Just like if you gave LDT superior awareness and technique, he'd be a very solid offensive lineman.
Those last two sentences ought to clue you in as to why I prefer Reid to either Fulton or LDT. Reid isn't as strong as Fulton, but he's got decent strength. Reid isn't as athletic as LDT, but he's got average athleticism and doesn't lose nearly as often due to leaning or other technique / recognition issues. In other words, both Fulton and LDT have a glaring weakness that causes them to be a weakness along the line at times. This isn't the case with Reid.
Reid doesn't have any one trait that makes him jump off on film. But what he DOES appear to have is skills that are good enough in every area (at least when it comes to playing guard) to keep him from being a weak spot on the line. It's this lack of weakness that leads to him losing at a lower percentage than either LDT or Fulton, despite both of them possessing superior physical traits in certain areas.
I have no idea what the plan is for the offensive line this season when it comes to the guard spots. However, considering they signed Reid to an extension worth $10 million, it appears they like him as a player. Moreover, when you think about the fact that AFTER signing Reid for decent money and AFTER seeing Reid play a couple of games at guard (and multiple games at RT), Dorsey decided to spend good money on Mitchell Schwartz, thus ensuring Reid wouldn't play RT.
Put that together with Dorsey letting Jeff Allen walk in free agency and I believe signs point to Reid getting every chance to win a spot at guard this season. Unless both LDT and Fulton improve on their weak spots (or some young unknown player just crushes it), I believe Reid will be the guy at RG Week 1. And further, I'll be just fine with that. He's a good enough lineman to win with at guard, if what he's shown there in limited action is any indication.
And c'mon... don't you want to see more of the guy who laid this block?
I love this block by Reid. Helping C, keeps head up, sees rusher getting inside RT and BOOM!!!! pic.twitter.com/R4ZTBOvyhQ— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) January 14, 2016
Yeah, me too.