Orlando Brown Jr. Struggles in Chiefs Debut
There aren't a lot of rules for the Word of Muth column, but one I have always stuck to is that when two teams I'm covering play each other, I write about the winner the following week. To the victor go the spoils. In this case, those spoils are about 1,000 words on offensive line footwork.
If you have read this column over the years you know that pretty much everything we look back at is from the end zone view of coaches' tape. Due to some changes on NFL Game Pass that's not possible for the time being. I assure you, I am more annoyed by it than you are, but we just have to make the best of this situation.
Before we get to some specific examples, I did want to touch on the Kansas City line overall. In general, I thought the interior line was pretty good, and the tackles were pretty bad. Joe Thuney probably played the best. With the exception of a cheap hold that didn't affect the play but was a fine call, I thought he was rock-solid all game. Orlando Brown Jr. played the worst for Kansas City, so as far as the two big offseason acquisitions go, it was a mixed bag.
This is the last meaningful snap the Chiefs offense had on Sunday. They were trying to pick up a first down to ice the game without having to give the ball back to Cleveland, but obviously they were forced to punt after this sack. It's never good when both defensive ends meet in the middle at your quarterback. This is an extreme, but it does highlight the poor tackle play Kansas City saw on Sunday.
Because of where the camera is set up, we have a much better idea of what went on with Brown (57) at left tackle. The pass set is just bad. Look at his second step with his left foot. He doesn't get any depth and steps right back underneath himself. At that point Brown has no choice but to try to turn and run Myles Garrett (95) by Patrick Mahomes, which he doesn't come close to accomplishing. This play was over as soon as Brown failed to gain any ground on that second kick.
Right tackle Lucas Niang (67) has a better set initially, but he goes to turn and run too early. Notice how he only gets two and half kicks before he tries to turn his hips and run the defensive end by. That's just not enough depth if your quarterback is going to drop to a full 10 yards. Jadeveon Clowney never has to run off his path and gets to Mahomes almost as fast as Garrett did. The quarterback has no chance here.
Even on the touchdowns, Brown didn't look right. In the previous play we highlighted how Brown false-stepped on his second kick or third overall step. Here, he immediately steps underneath himself as soon as the ball is snapped. You just can't do that at left tackle and expect to block anyone in the NFL. Brown seemed to be constantly behind the play throughout the game.
Brown made it very clear he wanted to play left tackle this season, but the early returns are not good. He looks like a guy that is playing an unnatural position. His footwork is all out of whack and it looks ugly.
Even in the run game Brown seemed to have trouble getting his feet to move like he wanted. It's tough to see from the TV cam, but I feel very confident that Brown stepped underneath himself at the snap here as well. As a result, he's late on the backside cutoff block and gives up a tackle for loss.
Footwork is so fundamental to anything you do as an offensive lineman. This importance is multiplied on your first three steps. Think of it this way: you are blocking someone faster, often significantly so, on just about every single play. Your advantage is that you know where the ball is going. So those first steps before the defender knows what's happening are crucial, it's your chance you head them off at the pass. Often times you aren't blocking a man as much as you are a spot. By stepping underneath yourself at the snap, you have thrown away your biggest advantage as an offensive lineman.
The good news for Chiefs fans is this is something that should get better as the season goes along. I don't think Brown has any physical limitations that would make him a worse left tackle than right tackle, he just hasn't had as many reps on that side of the ball. He's going to get plenty of reps on the left side this season and you have to think his footwork will steadily improve.
Before we go, I did want to take a look at the most brilliant play I have seen called in the NFL in a long time. It showed Andy Reid's pure genius as an offensive mind, and frankly as an American. It's just a shame it didn't work.
SHOVEL PASS TO AN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN. I REPEAT: SHOVEL PASS TO AN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN. And you call it on the goal line so it should lead to a big-man touchdown. Mike Remmers lines up as an H-back on the right-hand side and fakes a block before making the grab. Obviously, this didn't work and frankly I may never forgive center Creed Humphrey for robbing Remmers of his touchdown by missing a block. But if Humphrey blocks the defensive tackle, this bad boy is there. Hopefully we see it again in a few months when teams have forgotten it's in the playbook.
Andy, if you're reading this, don't give up on this play. It took Thomas Edison over 1,000 tries to invent the lightbulb, and I think we can all agree that was an idea worth tinkering with just like this play. The theory is sound, stick with it. Please don't kill the dream of the offensive lineman shovel pass.