Playing offensive line for an NFL squad can be a thankless job. While you’re tasked with one of the most important responsibilities on the field — protecting the quarterback — you’re generally pretty anonymous to the average fan. That reality could frustrate some players, but it doesn’t seem like former Kansas City Chiefs tackle Mitchell Schwartz is one to hold a grudge.
Although he was cut by the defending AFC champs earlier this offseason, Schwartz is still doing his part to protect Patrick Mahomes. At an offensive line summit, the NFL veteran provided some sage advice to the Chiefs’ new acquisitions, preparing them to protect his former quarterback.
The Kansas City Chiefs cut Mitchell Schwartz as part of an offensive line overhaul
During Super Bowl 55, the Chiefs suffered a massive embarrassment on the global stage. Their patchwork offensive line collapsed under the pressure, leaving Mahomes to run for his life. The normally explosive unit was silenced, condemning Kansas City to a 31-9 defeat.
On the back of that drubbing, general manager Brett Veach had to make some changes. The first of those came in March when the club cut both Eric Fischer and Mitchell Schwartz.
The former lineman joined the Chiefs as the first overall pick of the 2013 draft and tore his Achilles during the AFC title game against the Buffalo Bills. The latter bodyguard didn’t carry the same pedigree — he came to KC as a free agent in 2016 — but also suffered through a painful 2021 campaign. Schwartz hurt his back during the season and underwent surgery in February.
From a football perspective, the moves made sense: If you’re rebuilding a unit, it’s only natural to replace older, injured players with new talent. Pro sports aren’t played by robots, though. It would have been perfectly understandable if either man left Kansas City with a bad taste in his mouth.
Mitchell Schwartz provided some of Patrick Mahomes’ new protectors with some offseason advice
After being cut by the Chiefs, Schwartz took to social media to thank just about everyone affiliated with the franchise and even called his time in Missouri “everything [he] dreamed it would be and more.” While that statement made it pretty clear that he didn’t hold any ill will toward Kansas City, he provided his former employers with a subtle assist earlier in July.
Two Chiefs rookies, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith, attended the OL Masterminds summit and used the experience as a chance to absorb some advice from NFL veterans. One of those old pros, it seems, was Schwartz.
“Mitchell Schwartz was there,” Humphrey explained (H/T Chiefs Wire). “It was good to hear from him and kind of pick his brain a little bit. It was a really good experience.” The rookie said he learned “just different techniques that [Schwartz] used” and “how he took care of his body throughout the season and things like that.”
Smith also spoke with the former Chief, but they reportedly focused on more practical concerns ahead of training camp.
“Just basic stuff like bring a bed pad, bring a comforter, things like that,” Smith said. “It gets a little chilly in the dorm.”
With a new-look offensive line, some sage advice could give the Kansas City Chiefs an extra boost
Without knowing the exact contents of Schwartz’s conversations with Smith and Humphrey, it’s tough to know exactly how meaningful they were. Assuming that more was discussed than dorm room beds, however, it’s safe to assume that the two rookies left the summit with some extra information in their back pockets.
When the Chiefs released Fisher and Schwartz, that opened up somewhat of a leadership vacuum on the offensive line. While the acquisitions of Joe Thuney and Kyle Long, along with the return of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, have helped fill that void, Kansas City will still be entering the 2021 campaign with some young players occupying key positions.
Orlando Brown Jr. may possess plenty of talent, but he’s still relatively new to being the main man at left tackle. Similarly, Humphrey could steal the starting center role with a good preseason. Smith and Lucas Niang, who was drafted in 2020 but opted out of the season, could also see meaningful minutes.
It’s also worth noting that Schwartz’s guidance isn’t limited to rookies. According to a tweet from The Athletic’s Nate Taylor, the former Chief has also been in touch with Thuney and Long in previous months.
Given how the Super Bowl played out — the explosive Kansas City offense was sunk by a weak offensive line — it’s safe to say that unit will be at the center of the Chiefs’ 2021 campaign. The NFL is a copy-cat league, meaning other defensive coordinators will have dissected Tampa Bay’s game plan and adapted it for their own purposes. Until Patrick Mahomes’ new protectors prove they can handle the pressure, they can expect to see plenty of blitzes, stunts, and other schemes.
If they collectively step up and hold their own this season, everyone affiliated with the Kansas City Chiefs will own a final assist from Mitchell Schwartz.