Super Bowl LV is headlined by the matchup between quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady, but arguably the most important facet of this game has to do with how well the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line can handle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rush. Unfortunately, the Chiefs have had to deal with numerous injuries along the offensive line in 2020, and those misfortunes continued into the postseason. In the AFC Championship game against the Buffalo Bills, starting left tackle Eric Fisher went down with a torn Achilles, and with Mitchell Schwartz already on injured reserve due to a back injury, the Chiefs will not have either of their starting tackles for Super Bowl LV.
While Kansas City's starting lineup is being reshuffled yet again right before the biggest game of the year, Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck told reporters on Tuesday that his position group is deep, and that they all have the "next man up" mentality.
"To me, it feels like something that's a constant in this league," Heck said when asked about adjusting his lineup again. "You always have seasons where you've gotta ... 'Hey, next man up.' You've gotta move a guy here to there and so in that regard, this is not unusual. I think the way you get them ready for that is you just approach it with a mentality that it doesn't matter if you're playing left guard or right tackle. There's only a certain amount of blocks you gotta make."
"I feel like they play as one no matter where they're at. They have that continuity, they've been put through that situation at some point or another."
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Heck is correct in saying that his linemen have been put through every situation. On Monday, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid pointed out something that was very interesting in that regard. According to ESPN's Dianna Russini, at practice, the Chiefs' entire offensive line will play every single position on the line. So no one is set in one spot and everyone is somewhat prepared to play in any position anytime it is needed.
Heck says he hasn't officially made a decision on his starters for Sunday, but we have an educated guess of what it could look like:
Chiefs potential starting OL:
LT Mike Remmers Replaced Schwartz at RT in Week 7
LG Nick Allegretti Drafted in 7th round in 2019
C Austin Reiter Drafted in 7th round in 2015
RT Andrew Wylie RG this season (UDFA in 2017)
When Fisher exited the game two weeks ago with his Achilles injury, Remmers moved from right tackle to left, and Wylie moved to right tackle. Reiter is obviously still the starting center, Allegretti is at left guard and then Wisniewski fills in for Wylie at right guard. Heck said he's comfortable in Remmers' experience on the outside, and that Wylie is athletic enough to play tackle instead of guard.
Whoever starts on Sunday is going to have their work cut out for them, however, as the Buccaneers' defensive front has been dominant as of late. Shaquil Barrett sacked Aaron Rodgers three times in the NFC Championship game, Jason Pierre-Paul got to him twice and then the Buccaneers also return Vita Vea from injury for the second game in a row -- he provides a big interior push from the nose tackle position. With how versatile Mahomes is in the pocket coupled with the Chiefs' speedy weapons who know how to get open in a hurry, maybe this patchwork offensive line won't be a big problem. Either way, Heck says his guys are up for the challenge, and that he's quite comfortable with his players in whatever positions they are playing.
"The guys that are in my room, it doesn't matter who they are, where they're from -- man, we roll," said Heck. "Let's get to work. And this particular group we have this year, I absolutely love. These guys come to work every day, they're a lot of fun to be around and they love to compete."