The Kansas City Chiefs travel across the country this week to take on their rivals, the Oakland Raiders, Sunday afternoon. It is time to recognize one of the most valuable free agents acquired by General Manager John Dorsey this past off season. Ths week, spotlight is shining on offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz.
When Dorsey signed Schwartz in March, it didn’t hardly make splash for $700,000. There was little to get excited about a lineman who had 19 career starts since being drafted in the 7th round in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, and had sat out all of 2011 due to an injury.
Schwartz has been a very important cog this season for the Chiefs. With injuries along the offensive line to Jon Asamoah and Branden Albert, plus the slow development of first overall pick Eric Fisher, Schwartz and Donald Stephenson have gotten plenty of playing time.
The two back up linemen have started 9 games combined but there has been no obvious drop in production from the starters to these two reserves. In fact, the running game may be more effective and quarterback Alex Smith may be under less pressure. Smith has only been sacked 6 times over the past 4 games, including none last week, and the Chiefs are averaging 176.5 rushing yards in the two December games, by far the biggest average by month, albeit a smaller sample size.
It would be worth trying to resign Schwartz in the off season, even though the Chiefs are in a bit of a pickle with the salary cap for 2014, as Ben discussed a days ago. It might behoove Dorsey to find a way to get Schwartz signed for next year, even if it is at the expense of signing Branden Albert.
The Chiefs still have to hope that Eric Fisher can grow into the job at left tackle. If he can’t quite get there, and becomes the every day right tackle, then it appears as if Stephenson could develop into a fine left tackle over time.
The former Oregon Duck offers a great versatility to the Kansas City offense. Schwartz, who probably is best suited to play one of the guard positions, could still provide valuable depth at not only those guard spots, but also at the tackle positions.
His presence could alleviate the pressure on Fisher and Stephenson as they grow into the tackle positions, whichever each ends up playing. Schwartz’s ability to be at the very least, average at a number of offensive line positions, makes him incredibly valuable to Kansas City.
Keep a close eye on number 74 this week as the Chiefs battle it out on the road against the Raiders. Watch how he opens holes for running back Jamaal Charles, and how he can get in front of Charles and block for him in space on the outside. Watch how Schwartz is fundamentally sound in fighting off the rush on passing plays, helping to keep Alex Smith upright.
Schwartz was a great find by John Dorsey, and the lineman has been invaluable this season. Schwartz deserves recognition for his blue collar approach and a game in the spotlight is a good way to see just how good of a player he is.