The long-anticipated wait for the Kansas City Chiefs’ opportunity for redemption from the Super Bowl LV loss is finally over. As long as it has felt for fans, imagine the anticipation felt by the players — but specifically, the new offensive line.
All five are brand new to the organization this offseason. They’ve heard all spring and summer about how they’ll be an improved unit from the previous one — and that they’ll take this offense to new heights. They’ll finally get a chance to show it against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
To prepare for one of the biggest games of his career, left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. has one tradition he takes very seriously in the days leading up to the game.
“Sleep,” Brown told reporters via Zoom on Friday. “I get a lot of sleep in on Friday night, which is the most important night as far as for me and recovery to make sure that I’m good to go on Sunday. Friday night sleep is my routine. I’ll be in bed by seven.”
He’ll need to be well-rested to deal with some of the talent opposing him on the line of scrimmage. The Browns’ best player is defensive end Myles Garrett, who Brown has faced a handful of times in his career when he played for their divisional rival.
“He’s such a great player,” Brown began on Garrett. “He’s got a ton of moves, very athletic. He’s one of the few that can handle my punch and be able to recover his rush and not lose his angle to the quarterback. So for me, it’s all about staying on him, making sure that I keep my feet moving, making sure that I’ve got my hips underneath me and deal with his power when it comes.”
In his only matchup with the Browns last season, Brown gave up three pressures when he played left tackle — none being quarterback hits or sacks, per PFF. Garrett himself only had three total pressures and wasn’t able to bring the quarterback down.
They weren’t lined up across from each other on every snap, but Brown feels good about how he handled one of the best edge rushers in the NFL.
“I feel like I played well, and obviously it was enough to win,” Brown pointed out. “My goal as an offensive lineman is no sacks, no pressures, no hits, no touches, no penalties, going out there and not having any mental errors, keeping the quarterback clean, doing what I have to do in the run game. So I feel like I played well against him. There was a lot of things I could’ve done differently and could’ve done better — but I feel like where I’m at physically now compared to then is a lot better.”
He won’t be the only one that has to handle Garrett, though. If the Browns really want to create a mismatch, they’d line Garrett up over rookie right tackle Lucas Niang primarily. No matter how well-prepared Niang could be, taking his first regular-season snaps against such a force will cause problems.
Brown is confident that Niang — along with rookie center Creed Humphrey and rookie right guard Trey Smith — will be prepared for their big moment.
“They’re going to be ready to go,” Brown assured of all three rookie starters. “There’s a reason they’re going to be out on that field, coach [Andy] Reid and everyone in this organization trusts them, we trust them as peers and teammates, they’re ready to go.”
Entering his fourth season, Brown is now a player with valuable experience — and he does his best to share helpful information derived from it. He wants to help prepare his rookie teammates the best that he can.
Even with that mindset, he is aware that nothing new needs to be said to have these talented first-year players ready.
“My message to them was just to do what got them here,” Brown shared. “They’ve approached every day to get better, they’ve approached every day to work hard... there’s not too much I need to tell them that they don’t know already. The speed of the game is the speed of the game, and the players they’re playing against are the players they’re playing against.”
“These guys are here because they dominated top-tier talent in college anyways,” Brown continued. “It’s exactly what they expect is my message to them, and to have no fear. Approach this like you did in college. That’s been my mentality at every level, it’s ‘I’m going to come out here and dominate my opponent. I don’t care who they line up across from me.’”
That confidence will be key to a strong performance for the offensive front. They can trust that head coach Andy Reid will put them in advantageous positions with play-calling, that quarterback Patrick Mahomes will make plays and that veterans like Brown and left guard Joe Thuney will help them as the game goes.
With all that in mind, they can go out and play the game like they already know how. The rookies — along with the two veterans making their debuts — sound as prepared as an entirely brand new unit can be.