Kansas City Chiefs offensive line shows toughness and grit against the Houston Texans.

In the aftermath, of could he or did he not want to play, Eric Fisher ultimately found a seat on the bench Sunday. In his place, Jah Reid, just signed as a free agent a week earlier showed why the Chiefs were wise to sign the veteran tackle. So how did the five guys up front grade out against J.J. Watt and company?

Chiefs Offensive Line Grades

Jah Reid (B+) – In four quarters of play, the former Ravens tackle, who after viewing how woeful Baltimore’s O-line played against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, dumping the talented Reid was a mistake after viewing his debut for Kansas City.

For much of the game, he was tangled with Houston Texans star defender, J.J. Watt, arguably the best defensive player in the game today, and held his own. No offense to Justin Houston, but Watt, had the Texans won this game, would have been the lead NFL story with his performance Sunday against the Chiefs. To that point, that speaks volumes to the effort Reid and his offensive line mates accomplished together on Sunday.

With just one penalty flag thrown at his feet, Reid deserves, and will likely get, another start Thursday against Denver. It’ll be interesting to see if Head Coach, Andy Reid, tries to save dignity for Eric Fisher and taking him off the bench and back at right tackle. 

Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff (B+) – The Canadian import didn’t get too many mentions on Sunday and that’s a good thing. Again like Reid, no flags and only a few blown assignments up the gut. For his debut as an NFL starter, he more than held his own against a very talented Texans front line. Though he has room to grow as a starting guard, I thought the confidence he gained from Sunday could extend the faith KC’s head coach has bestowed on the man he affectingly refers to as Larry.

Mitch Morse (A+) – When the Chiefs drafted their young offensive line in the second round this past spring; I was told emphatically, he’d be the opening day starting center. Though most people felt that job would fall into the hands of Eric Kush, who spent three years being groomed for the position, Morse would have none of that and assumed the position. On Sunday, he played - distribute the weight game - with Texans mammoth Defensive Tackle, Vince Wolfork. Despite my grade, let’s not get prematurely giddy about his overall performance. After all in a couple of days he faces the best defensive line in the NFL Thursday night when the Broncos invade Arrowhead.

Ben Grubbs (A) – I could sum up his performance on Sunday in one word – terrific. The second best off-season move the Chiefs made, behind signing Jeremy Maclin, was nearly flawless for Kansas City on Sunday. Before he arrived in Kansas City the scuttlebutt in New Orleans was the innuendo that Grubbs was on the decline. To the Chiefs benefit, that’s clearly not the case.  

Donald Stephenson (A-) – Though an undisclosed injury forced him to the bench in the fourth quarter, he gave J.J. Watt a battle. Though he was beaten a couple of times, he did a great job sealing the backside and protecting quarterback, Alex Smith from taking a beating. The fact Smith had such a hot first half for the Chiefs had much to do with the play of Stephenson.  The talented offensive lineman has come full circle in his career in Kansas City. After making a splash his rookie season, then a year long stint in Andy Reid’s doghouse, he emerged this summer as a viable and legit NFL caliber starting left tackle.

Summary

The Chiefs offensive line certainly has to get better. They weren’t strong in opening up holes for Running Back, Jamaal Charles but they did a terrific job in pass protection. Still if this offense is going to evolve into one of the games elite, this line has to create more space for their All Pro runner to find gaps to get into the second tier of opposing defenses.

Outlook: 

On Thursday evening, this revamped offensive line will have tough task playing against the best front seven in football. To combat that fact, KC's new offensive line might have gained enough confidence to make a statement Thursday night at Arrowhead against their hated rival the Denver Broncos. If they can manhandle them in the trenches, the Chiefs offense could rise from solid to elite in the month of September. 


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