Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes ran for his life during the Super Bowl this past February, but he doesn’t seem to think pass protection will be much of an issue this season. In fact, Mahomes is blown away by how quickly the team’s offensive line has come together and the togetherness the group has displayed during the preseason.
Stronger performances in the trenches might be the difference between Mahomes and the Chiefs lifting their second Lombardi Trophy in three years or coming up short on the doorstep of another title at Super Bowl LVI.
The Chiefs remade the offensive line this offseason
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach was not going to be complacent after watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ front seven chase his star quarterback all over the field. He went out and got Patrick Mahomes some much-needed protection.
Kansas City signed veteran guard Joe Thuney in free agency and lured Kyle Long out of retirement. Long suffered a knee injury earlier this offseason. Fortunately for Mahomes, though, those weren’t the only two moves that Veach made.
The Chiefs traded four draft picks, including their 2021 first-round choice, to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for two-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. The 25-year-old made the Pro Bowl at tackle spots and suddenly became the centerpiece of the new-look Chiefs offensive line.
Kansas City benefited from the understanding that certain players — like 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang — would be returning this fall. Veach also drafted a pair of starters this past April, selecting Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Mahomes is hardly blind to the gains made on the O-line. In fact, he is acutely aware of how strong the protection has been throughout the preseason.
Patrick Mahomes repeatedly praised the O-line and said the group has surprised him
Mahomes has been upright for much of the preseason. He said so himself.
The former MVP went on at length about the sensational performances along the offensive line following the team’s preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings this past weekend. He said the unit had improved every week.
“I think they’ve had an amazing preseason,” Mahomes said Saturday, via John Dillon of Chiefs Wire. “I haven’t got hit a lot; I don’t really think I got touched today. I think that just speaks to them and how they’ve been playing. They’ve done a great job and gotten better each and every week so I’m excited for the season.”
Mahomes also suggested things are only going to get scarier for opposing defenses as the season rolls along.
“As you kind of gel as an offensive line, with the quarterback, with the whole entire offense, when everybody is on the same exact page is when you have those truly great offensive lines and great offenses,” Mahomes said, via Chiefs Wire. “I think you see us as games are going on, we’re communicating better and better, and I think we’ll continue to improve throughout the season.”
Beyond just performance, the Chiefs signal-caller is impressed with the chemistry developed among members of Kansas City’s offensive line. He told Peter King of NBC Sports he was a bit taken aback by how quickly everyone has gelled.
Things are rapidly coming together for Kansas City’s franchise quarterback, who seems to understand the new-look line ultimately holds the keys to the team’s hopes of winning Super Bowl LVI next February.
Will preseason performance carry into the regular season?
Preseason is an important part of the slow build to the start of a new NFL campaign, but it pales in comparison to the importance that seems to weigh on every snap come Week 1. Mahomes’ endorsement of the offensive line only means so much if the hogs cannot translate their preseason success to the regular season.
The Chiefs have the good fortune of boasting a generational talent at the quarterback position. Mahomes still managed to make some otherworldly throws during the Super Bowl despite being chased for all eternity, and he did so on turf toe. This is a former MVP with perhaps the greatest combination of arm talent, anticipation, and escapability that the NFL has ever seen. He also has top weapons at the skill positions.
Kansas City is all but guaranteed to compete for Super Bowl LVI if the offensive line gives the 25-year-old a chance to make plays on a consistent basis. Judging by Mahomes’ effusive praise of the new-look unit, he is going to have the opportunity to put up big numbers and help the Chiefs lift another Lombardi Trophy.