The lack of precedence for what the Kansas City Chiefs did this offseason to rebuild their offensive line was no secret. Rarely do you see a legitimate contender scrap their entire five-man unit and still have hopes of being the Super Bowl champion that same year.
No matter how impressive the group of two new veterans and three rookies looked in training camp and the preseason, there would continually be growing pains — especially early in the season.
At the season's quarter mark, Chiefs' head coach Andy Reid reminded reporters of that point during his press conference on Wednesday.
"It's a young group, and a new group; all five are new," Reid reiterated. "They're getting better as we go, and getting some experience is the main thing, working together. They have a great attitude, and they're working hard, and we'll just see how things go down the road as they keep growing."
The growing pains have been there — but not at the expense of success. In fact, the line has looked flat-out dominant the last two weeks — especially when running the ball. The team has 193 rushing yards per game between the two contests, blowing run lanes wide open for running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams.
It seems they've improved each week and left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. credits the game plan for that — but also the cohesion they're progressively building as a unit.
"Just a combination of coaches' schemes and all of us being on the same page and executing our fundamentals at a high level," Brown answered when asked what has made the run game better recently. "Sunday was just a taste of what we can do, we still weren't spot on with a few different things — but we were able to make some good things happen in the run game. Hopefully, we can continue to build on that and become a better team running the ball as time goes."
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes also commented on the line, telling reporters that they "aren't making the same mistakes."
Mahomes also mentioned he has been finding the right pockets to step into from a pass protection standpoint. The statistics reflect their improvement: the line has allowed the third-fewest sacks among all teams this season.
Another successful part of the offense has been their ability to convert in short-yardage situations, and it was glaringly apparent in Week 4. The Chiefs converted 9 of 10 of their third-down plays, with a handful coming by way of a short run.
The statistics also back up the eye test here: according to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs have a Power Success rate of 100%, meaning they've converted every opportunity to gain two or fewer yards on third and fourth downs, plus any goal-to-go plays from two or fewer yards away.
It's a point of emphasis for the line to succeed in those moments.
"There's definitely situations as offensive linemen that we take pride in," Brown explained. "Third down being one of them, whether we're running or passing, whatever the deal is."
Mahomes won't have to throw it around as much if the dominance on the ground continues to be a featured part of the offense. It's something they're starting to get used to as defenses attempt to take away downfield passes.
"We learned a little bit about it last year," Mahomes began. "Having to throw the ball short, drive the length of the field, trust guys like Tyreek are going to make plays to get down the field once they catch the ball. Having the offensive line come in, how well they can run block and Clyde running the football is going to continue to be a step in the right direction for us to be the best offense we can possibly be."
Edwards-Helaire has benefitted the most from the impressive run-blocking performances. His statistics from the last two games have been as good as any back across the league.
Over the last 2 weeks, CEH has the 4th-most rushing yds in the NFL. A higher YPC clip than the 3 RBs ahead of him— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) October 5, 2021
Also has the 2nd-most 10+yard rushes and the 2nd-most 15+ yard rushes
Credit to him, but the run-blocking has been dominant the last couple weeks #Chiefs
The run lanes have been so good that Edwards-Helaire might have to think of a reward or a way to thank his offensive line.
When asked if there were any steak dinners courtesy of the second-year running back planned, Brown laughed.
"No, but I'm sure he will at some point in time." Brown chuckled. "Whenever we get to that."