Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs
Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Ben Muth

After breaking down the Chiefs' Week 16 game against the Raiders, I am willing to say that Eric Winston was the best signing of the offseason. Kansas City’s front five played decently, but it was in spite of last year’s right tackle, Barry Richardson. Not only is Winston a significant upgrade on Richardson, he fits what the Chiefs want to do perfectly.

Winston’s ability to block defensive ends on outside zone concepts is exactly what the Chiefs need. Kansas City ran a lot of concepts where the tackle or tackle and tight end would reach the defensive end while the playside guard would pull around and lead.

Winston has shown great ability to not only sustain these types of blocks, but actually get vertical movement on them. Most tackles can only get lateral movement on those blocks, as they are very difficult for tackles on outside zones. That will provide a much easier path for the pulling guard to get around and lead on. If Jamaal Charles is healthy this year, I could see him having a bigger year than he had in 2010.

As far as players that I actually watched this week, Jon Asamoah was the guy that stood out the most to me. He was rock solid in pass protection all day -- I’m struggling to recall an instance where he got beat. He also did a nice job blocking guys in space. It didn’t matter if it was locking onto linebackers coming off combo blocks or defensive backs when he was pulling outside. He took good angles and stuck on to his assignments.

At center, the Chiefs featured Casey Wiegmann. I really don’t have a ton to say about the 38-year-old veteran. He had a couple of nice moments, the most memorable of which was a really nice reach block against a shaded nose tackle on a Wham play. He also had a nice kick out block on a screen to Dexter McCluster that went for 43 yards and led to the tying score late in the fourth quarter. Other than that though, he didn’t stand out. He didn’t get much movement in the running game. He got knocked back a bit in the passing game, but he didn’t really get beat cleanly and usually hung on to keep from allowing real pressure.

At left guard the Chiefs had Ryan Lilja. The veteran had a bit of an inconsistent day. He looked great pulling and blocking in space. Lilja kicked out on defensive ends a couple of times and also made some nice blocks on screen plays. He looked really good in combination block on zone running plays. However, he struggled in pass protection. He seemed to have a hard time handling bull rushes early in the game, and ended up too close to Kyle Orton for Orton's comfort.

Lilja seemed to adjust as the game went along, but the adjustment opened up another set of problems. He started leaning on guys with all his weight to stop the bull rush. The problem was that this left him off-balance, and when defenders would knock his hands down, he would fall down. He looked better in the second half, but gave up more pressure than you would like to see. It should be interesting to see if he can hold off this year's second-round pick, Jeff Allen, in the preseason.

Finally, we get to left tackle Branden Albert. The former first-rounder is the player on this line I had the hardest time evaluating. He does do a lot of things well. He plays with good strength, he moves his feet well against wide rushers, and he does a nice job of handling defensive ends by himself on outside zone plays.

Sadly, there sure are a lot of negatives for a guy with his pedigree that has played a lot of football. The first thing that stood out was his habit of letting his feet die after contact on drive blocks. He would fire out well, but after that he would get stuck in the ground and not generate any movement. It resulted in a lot of stalemates. Also, his pass set leaves something to be desired. Once he gets engaged with a defender or starts mirroring a wide rusher, he looks fine. The set to get there, though, is all over the place. He brings his feet too close together because he swings his right foot too much on every step.

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Don't get me wrong, Albert was effective for the most part. His ugly mechanics would be a huge negative if he wasn’t successful, but at some point you have to throw your hands up, forget about process and just look at the results. The only time Albert gave up pressure on passing plays is when he was passing off twists with Lilja.

Before we end, I want to give an example of the battle within the game between offensive linemen and defenders. There was a play in the second quarter where Casey Wiegmann pulled and led up on Rolando McClain. McClain lowered his head and knocked Wiegmann on his ass. The Alabama product then proceeded to talk a lot of trash to the veteran center. Of course, the fact that McClain didn’t make the tackle because he was too busy with Wiegmann is beside the defender's point -- he knocked a bigger guy down and wanted to make sure he knew about it.

A couple of plays later, the Chiefs call a screen pass and once again Wiegmann is pulling around for McClain. Once again, McClain is coming with a full head of steam and his head down. This time, Wiegmann stops just short and brings both hands down in a clubbing motion onto McClain’s shoulder pads. The linebacker gets a face full of dirt.

Both plays were pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things: the run went for five yards and the screen went for seven. But they were a nice example of a veteran player making an adjustment from one play to the next, and as a nice bonus, it made a defender look like an ass. That’s really the goal of any offensive linemen.

That does it for this week. I'd love some suggestions on who you'd like to see me breakdown as we head closer to the season. The only team I have on my schedule right now is the Dolphins, to coincide with their Hard Knocks debut. Other than that my schedule is clear, so I’d love some suggestions. I would also like to do a Q&A sometime this offseason, so feel free to leave questions in the comments, email them to wordofmuth-at-gmail.com, or ask me on Twitter.


30 comments, Last at 02 Aug 2012, 11:05pm

1 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

I'd love to see a breakdown of the Chargers. They had a lot of changes throughout the season, but the starting five for 2012 started the final 5 games of last season.

I'd particularly like to see a breakdown of the Raven's game, since they were so good at creating pressure last season.

3 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

I'd love to see a breakdown of the Packers line from the Thanksgiving game with Detroit. I know Sitton got hurt that game but I actually want to hear about EDS replacing him and if the play of the Packers line had anything to do with the Suh stomp. Also Newhouse had a few starts under his belt by then and while I know this offseason should help him I'd like to hear more about him and if he has the potential to be what the coaches hope (since Sherrod will not be ready for the first game and I figure he'll get another year of seasoning and time to fully recover from that ugly broken leg).

It was also a game between two pretty solid teams and the Detroit defensive front was one of the better ones the Packers faced and I know Rodgers took some hits that game too.

17 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

That might be an interesting game to review from a sociological perspective, but to me it doesn't seem particularly relevent with regard to evaluating the Packers OL going into this season, since we know that Dietrich-Smith is not going to be the starter.

I'm interested in seeing a breakdown of the Packers OL for three things:

1) How will the Packers fare with an aging Jeff Saturday replacing Scott Wells at center?

2) Since we've seen Ben breakdown Darryn Colledge's play for the Cards recently, it would be interesting to see how Lang has fared as his replacement. I recall many Packer fans were happy to see Colledge go.

3) We really should get an opinion of Sherrod's performance, since he's the putative heir to Chad Clifton.

19 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

1) He reviewed the Colts fairly recently so you can extrapolate from there. EDS is the back-up center as well which is why I'm interested in his play. I know center isn't the same as guard, but getting a read on him matters because he might be playing for Saturday. I'm also not worried about knowing too much about the play of Sitton. Even battling nagging injuries all last year he was still fine, not as good as 2010 but we have a good idea of his top end and his low end now.

2) We'd get that from this game. I too am interested in this question.

3) There isn't a good way to do this as Sherrod never got starter reps during practice last year. Newhouse did, and Newhouse will be starting this season. The assumption is that Sherrod will probably take the job from him at some point this year, which would mean he is playing better than Newhouse. Knowing about Newhouse matters more to their success this year I think. Since Sherrod got a lot of his money in his signing bonus (3.3 of the 6.6 million 4 year deal), they have similar contracts this year (Sherrod 675,091 and Newhouse 540,000) so there will be some pressure to play him because they paid him but not quite as much because they seem to not worry so much about sunk costs. FYI Newhouse is on a 4 year 1.939 million contract.

The best bet to get info on Sherrod might be the Atlanta game but then you don't get any info on Bulaga and I'd really like that. I'd also rather get info on a game after the halfway point of the season as I think that gives a better read on what to expect the next year and Atlanta was early.

In addition I want to hear about Bulaga as I've seen several accounts saying that he was one of the better right tackles in the league last year. I think the Detroit game would be a good measure for him.

27 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

I just think the Thanksgiving game ended up too weird for a good evaluation -- the Suh ejection and subsequent problems are too much of a distraction in my opinion -- even though I too have an interest in what transpired.

I understand your interest in Newhouse but from what I saw in Game Rewind last year, Newhouse pretty much stunk at LT. If Sherrod is the future of this team might as well learn about him. Besides, this column isn't so much about particular performances as it is about the strengths and weaknesses of each one based on how they set themselves and react to situations. Sherrod was a 1st-round pick, Newhouse was not -- might as well see if the value is there.

Is there a game when Bulaga, Wells, Lang, and Sherrod played? That would be ideal to me, even if Sitton was out. I'd still like to see a Wells vs. Saturday comparison.

30 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

I watched the T-day game again and yeah I don't want to subject Ben to that many flags either. I had forgotten how awful some of that got, and how little time GB had the ball in the first half.

I don't think there is a game that Bulaga and Sherrod both played in. Sherrod didn't play much at all last season. Most of the time he played was at right tackle when Bulaga was hurt because the coaches didn't really trust him at LT with the condensed offseason and everything else. As to him being the possible future, as I said he isn't even participating in training camp. McCarthy has said he has his starting 5 (Newhouse, Lang, Saturday, Sitton, Bulaga) and it's the first time in a long time he has had them all in training camp together everyday because Clifton tended to practice once a week to give him rest, and there were other injuries. I just don't see how you'll be able to get a read on Sherrod from the 2011 season, and he might not play this year at all so I'm not sure it would be that helpful. Lang didn't miss a game so we'll get him no matter what. I agree with not worrying about getting info on Sitton. I'm confident in him.

I definitely want a game from the second half of the season, I don't think the playoff game vs New York is a good one to use either (the whole team was off that day, I really think the disruptions to practice because Philbin was dealing with the death of his son just had major ripple effects). The last game of the year vs Detroit with all the back-ups in the game I'm not sure is good either (though it was pretty much the starting o-line).

I'll have to poke around and try and remember what the o-line combos ended up being.

But yeah while I would still love to get a review of the T-day Lions game, after having rewatched it I'm with you that I'm not sure it's a good example. I also would like Bens thoughts on Wells vs Saturday to go along with my own evaluations based on his evals.

25 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

If you do choose Green Bay, I'd be particularly interested to see your take on runs outside the tackles. According to FO's data, the Packers have been in the top handful for runs marked 'off end' every season since Mike McCarthy took over, yet they've been consistently below average in adjusted line yards on these runs. I've never seen a thorough analysis of their strengths and weaknesses in executing zone stretches. Fans are divided in blaming primarily the line, the backs, or the play-calling. I'd like to see what you find.

For that, the most interesting game might be the regular-season win over the Giants. Green Bay used four running backs and ran 24 times for only 57 yards (2.4 per carry). Off end, the backs ran 8 times for a measly 12 yards. Yet the line was able to give Rodgers enough time to attack the Giants' ropey defensive backs.

6 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

"as a nice bonus, it made a defender look like an ass. That’s really the goal of any offensive linemen."


7 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

Thanks Ben!
I play flag football now-a-days, but they have (almost) live blocking: You have to use your hands, can't use your shoulders. Pretty fun... it's making learn a lot more about playing on the line. It also gets back to one of the greatest aspects of football: all shapes and sizes are welcome.
The Wiegmann move you describe I would put it in the category of ole: the defender is expecting contact, if you step out of the way instead and give them a little help, they fall flat on their face. Also, a cut block works great against over-aggressive defenders... just not in flag lol.

8 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

I don't suppose you would take a look at the Panthers would you? Just how dreadful was Byron Bell (or whoever it was they lined up at RT last season after Jeff Otah went down. Again.). How good is Ryan Kalil?

9 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

New england always enthralls me...their o line consistency which deserves as many plaudits as bellechick and brady somehow never gets mentioned. As a colts fan and long time pats adversary, i have nothing but respect for them and would love to see our evaluation of them.

14 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

I am a Patriots fan, but it seems to me that the line is more technique-based than pure athleticism, so it'd be nice to learn whether that's true. We're also losing Light, and there have long been complaints about him in local media and among fans, so finding out how valid they are would be sweet.

The Patriots played the Chargers, too. I don't recall if anyone important was missing from either side, though.

16 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

How about an underrated Bengals offensive line that dominated the LOS with 6 linemen on running plays two years ago, and then last year was miserable in those same situations while simultaneously establishing themselves as a very strong pass protect group? Seems interesting to me how that has evolved.

In particular, many reviews of Andre Smith suggested he really came into his own last season - with pass protection in particular - but I seem to recall numerous games where he was just getting blown up (e.g. Seattle vs. Clemons), and he never seems to make a big impact in the ground game despite his 340lbs... Now he's playing for a contract, any chance he can remotely live up to his draft status on the field?


18 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

Any chance on a look at Denver, early in the year when they had a standard QB? I think that Manning's protection is very interesting.

20 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

On week 11 of the 2119 season, Vaneric Deltajohnson--the starting defensive mega-end for the New Kansas City Waterchiefs--will become the first player to sack an opposing quarterback using only his mind. On the play near the beginning of the 3a/4 quarter, Tarvaris Jackson IV, the QB for the Seattle Hyperhawks B, took a 7-unit drop. Deltajohnson initiated his rush by considering an outside zone concept, which he understood completely and instantly. The Hyperhawk left tackle, E.R. Biggins, didn't really get the concept, and certainly not in time. Though he made a heroic effort in the physical plane of existence, Biggins simply couldn't match Deltajohnson's instantaneous grasp of hypothetical pass pressure. This left Jackson IV's invisible side unprotected from the notional intent of the blitzing Waterchief mind. With a tell-tale flicker of precisely focused electroweak force exertion, Jackson IV was brought down to the G.E. turf for a loss of 2.07 x 10^-16 parsecs.

Game officials attempted to locate Deltajohnson to give him the game ball, but based on preliminary minimum mass-limit calculations, they weren't able to definitively conclude which planet Deltajohnson was on.

21 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

Would love to see a breakdown of the San Francisco o-line. Maybe the NFC championship game?

26 Re: Word of Muth: Scouting the Chiefs

Jets- How bad was Hunter? and how good are Ferguson, Mangold and Moore?
Cincy- Was the houston game an abberation?
Browns- A line built with rd 3+ picks....is it any good?