Despite posting another 411 yards of offense against the New Orleans Saints’ second-ranked defense, the Kansas City Chiefs struggled to protect Patrick Mahomes again in Week 15.
Dealing with multiple lingering injuries along the offensive line, the Chiefs, who were without veteran RT Mitchell Schwartz and immediate backup Mike Remmers on Sunday, pieced together a new alignment versus the Saints. The result was 11 hits and a season-high four sacks allowed on Mahomes, bringing the season total to 22, seven of which have come in the last two weeks on the road.
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Mitchell Schwartz ‘Feeling a Little Bit Better’
Fresh off of Kansas City’s 13th win of the season, the franchise’s first time hitting that mark since 2003, head coach Andy Reid provided an update on the status of Schwartz when asked during his Monday press conference.
“Yeah, he’s actually feeling a little bit better,” Reid told reporters. “Not all the way back, but he is feeling a little bit better and we’ll just see I mean, we will take it – he’s a great communicator so we know he wants to play but just want to make sure you know that he’s ok and I kind of leave that up to the docs and Rick (Burkholder) on that and then obviously Mitch so. I don’t know that.
“We’re just kind of taking it day by day, week by week literally, and so we’re just seeing how he does here. Hopefully it calms down by then or whenever and he can get himself back out there. I mean, that’s what we’d like, but we’ll see how that all goes.”
Is a Regular Season Return Still in Play?
The 31-year-old All-Pro has been out of the lineup since suffering a back injury and exiting Kansas City’s Week 6 win in Buffalo. While Remmers has done an admirable job in relief over the past eight games, the ninth-year pro, along with counterpart LT Eric Fisher, is also battling through a tight back, causing him to be held out Sunday.
Reid’s latest response isn’t much of a change from his most recent update in Week 14, when the veteran coach confirmed that the team would not rush Schwartz back despite being eligible to return from the injured reserve list.
“Yeah, we’ll just see,” Reid said on December 3. “Listen, he’s a smart kid and so he’s been around a long time and he knows how he’s feeling. And he’s a good communicator, so he keeps that open with the trainers and doctors, so I think that’s the most important thing right now. Then, when he’s right, then we’ll get him back out there.”
At this point, it’s fair to wonder if the Chiefs will have their starting right tackle back before their first postseason game, which should play to everyone’s advantage should they lock up the AFC’s No. 1 seed and a first-round bye week. The difference could mean playing in the Wild Card round on January 9-10 or a week later on January 16-17.
Reid Reveals Second Injury for Eric Fisher
The performance of Fisher, the former No. 1 overall pick who has started all 14 games to date this season, was noteworthy on multiple fronts. Despite battling through a tight back and missing two of the team’s three practices leading up to kickoff, Fisher was on the field for all 98 (98!) of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps on Sunday.
He understandably struggled to contain the physicality of Saints DE Trey Hendrickson, who posted five quarterback hits and 2.0 sacks on the day, tying him with Los Angeles Rams All-Pro DT Aaron Donald for the league-lead at 12.5 this year.
On Monday, Reid also defending his Pro Bowl left tackle, also mentioning that Fisher suffered a second injury in the middle of the action.
“Yeah so Fish, he missed a couple practices this week so he kind of pushed himself through with his back and you know his hamstring tightened up. He had these things happen during the game. He didn’t say anything, he kind of just rolls with it and then after the game you find this out. So, I think those things were affecting him a little bit.”
Furthermore, on the topic of Mahomes approaching Fisher about his play on the sideline:
“He had a couple good pass rushers on him, and they got him a couple times and so you know Pat – listen, he lets you know, his is encouragement and butt chewing all at once,” said Reid. “So, linemen are used to that, they can take it, they were wearing big boy pants so they can handle it and that’s also part of the leadership part of it and Fish is good about it. He just kept bearing down, he didn’t complain, he just keeps rolling, that’s what he does and so very dependable that way on being there.”
Kansas City will return home to Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday to face off with a reeling Atlanta Falcons team, whose defense has mustered a middling 28 sacks through 14 games and allowed the fifth-most total yards (5,494) to opposing offenses.
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!