As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare to host Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals, major credit can be given to outstanding offensive line play for helping the team reach this goal.
Early in the season, the completely revamped unit had some growing pains — especially during the team’s unexpected 3-4 start. But down the stretch of the regular season and through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the team’s heavy offseason investment in the offensive line has appeared to pay off.
Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. discussed his own improvement in Wednesday’s media session, giving credit to Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck — along with head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
“I’m not someone who’s a quitter,” Brown said of working through his early-season difficulties. “That’s not how I was raised — from my parents and [from] the way that I approach the game. I always feel as though there’s an answer of some sort. Coach Heck had a ton of patience with me. Coach Reid, Coach EB, really helping me grasp and really understand the system and the scheme. As time has gone [on], I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable. I don’t think I’ve figured it all out yet — but I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable playing within the scheme.”
After spending his first three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens before being traded to the Chiefs in April, Brown has now appeared in the playoffs in every season of his career. He had never, however, advanced past the Divisional round until he arrived in Kansas City. He acknowledged his emotions in reaching the conference championship.
“It’s a very important game,” Brown admitted. “It’s the AFC Championship — and it’s super special to be in this position. I’m not taking it for granted at all. Emotions are going to be all over the place — but I’m super excited to get out there.”
The Bengals defeated the Chiefs 34-31 in Week 17 of the regular season. Brown did not play after being pulled from the lineup shortly before kickoff with a calf injury. In spite of his absence in the loss, Brown said the coaches have worked with the whole offensive line to address shortcomings in that game.
“It’s definitely harder playing a defensive line a second time,” he admitted. “The advantage that we do have is we are at home. Being able to execute cadence definitely is going to make a big difference; not having to deal with crowd noise.
“I think Coach Heck does a really good job preparing us throughout the week — especially with these teams that we’ve played before — whether that be fundamentally or X’s and O’s. As far as the injury, it was tough to deal with at the time. I’ve moved past that.”
Brown also talked about his chemistry with quarterback Patrick Mahomes — which many have noted appears to have improved over the course of the season.
“Really the repetitions and getting a feel for each other — and then from there a discussion,” Brown said of his evolving relationship with the quarterback. “Pat’s been doing an amazing job in the pocket. Moving around, making guys miss when he needs to. Stepping up, stepping out and around, making plays, getting the ball out of his hands when he needs to. He’s been doing a great job.
“When he’s playing really well — and moving really well in the pocket — you know I’m doing a good job keeping width in the pocket, and they’re doing a good job keeping depth inside. Anything is possible. 15 is a great quarterback. He does a really good job adjusting. And he’s only made me better.”