The Kansas City Chiefs entered Week 1 of this season with five starting offensive linemen that didn’t play for the team in 2020. Six games in, that is no longer the case.
After appearing on the injury report with a hamstring designation in the lead up to Week 6, starting right tackle Lucas Niang was sidelined in favor of veteran Mike Remmers, who went on to play every snap of the game at right tackle.
If that felt like a one-game substitute, it didn’t after offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy spoke to reporters on Thursday. He was asked what the team gains with Remmers at right tackle.
“You gain a veteran who has been in the league for a number of years,” Bieniemy began. “On top of that, Remmers has been with us now for a few years — and he understands the system. Up front, those guys have to do a great job of overcommunicating with one another. With Remmers in there, he’s going to help (right guard) Trey [Smith] get better — because he’s communicating the necessary information back and forth to each other.”
Remmers started at right tackle for the majority of the 2020 season, admirably filling in for the injured starter, Mitchell Schwartz. He held that starting position as training camp opened this season — but had to be sidelined due to an injury, and Niang stepped in and didn’t look back through five games.
In that fifth game, Niang struggled to contain Buffalo Bills’ edge rushers; he allowed eight quarterback hurries, per PFF. Through five weeks, Niang was tied for the eighth-most pressures allowed by any NFL offensive lineman.
Bieniemy believes this is the right switch for both the players and the team.
“Now, Lucas has an opportunity to sit and observe, watching how Remmers is handling certain situations that present themselves,” Bieniemy explained. “I think it’s a great opportunity for Remmers, but on top of that, it’s teaching Lucas all the ins and outs of how to be a professional.
“Lucas played his tail off, and Lucas is going to be a great player here. We wanted to make sure that we’re putting our guys in the right situations to be successful. I know right now, this is the best situation for both of them — and it’s going to help us as a team moving forward.”
As attractive as the idea was to have a young line grow up with each other and benefit from that cohesiveness in the long run, the Chiefs want to win a Super Bowl this year — and this move indicates the team believes Remmers helps their chances at this point. They can still switch back to Niang later if he proves himself as he did in the first portion of the season.
This move — along with other recent lineup changes at different positions — proves that this team is proactive at getting the best lineup on the field every week.