Chiefs looking for more protection from the offensive line

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who was sacked five times, took too many hits from defensive end Derrick Shelby and the Dolphins’ defense on Sunday.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who was sacked five times, took too many hits from defensive end Derrick Shelby and the Dolphins’ defense on Sunday. The Kansas City Star

The sample size is small, of course, just three games. But if there is one early concern for Chiefs coach Andy Reid, it might be this: Quarterback Alex Smith has been among the most harassed quarterbacks in the NFL.

Through three games, the Chiefs have allowed 11 sacks, the second most in the NFL behind the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 17 sacks. During a 34-15 victory Sunday at Miami, Smith went down five times, including on a safety that cut the Chiefs’ lead to 21-15 late in the third quarter.

“Some of that, especially early, those were my responsibility,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday. “We were in long-yardage situations and you talk about these third-and-forevers and asking guys to take seven-step drops and throw the ball. So we’ve got to be a little smarter with the play-calling in a couple of situations.”

That’s part of it. But Reid also stressed that, in some situations, the Chiefs’ offensive line just needs to do a better job of picking up assignments and giving Smith more time to throw.

The Chiefs’ patchwork offensive line entered the regular season as one of the organization’s most glaring question marks. The early-season growth has been evident. Second-year left tackle Eric Fisher has made strides — especially in the running game.

But while Reid waits for right tackle Donald Stephenson to return from suspension, the Chiefs continue to work to keep Smith upright on passing downs. One day after improving to 1-2 with a road victory, Reid saw room for improvement.

“We just got to make sure we block the right guys,” Reid said.

Still, there was some reason for optimism after Sunday’s victory. The offensive line paved the way for 174 yards rushing, and Reid praised the physical nature of the offensive performance.

“I thought we played good, hard, aggressive football,” Reid said. “Anytime your runners can run like they ran, your offensive line is going to be doing a good job.”

On Monday, seven days before an anticipated “Monday Night Football” matchup against the New England Patriots at Arrowhead Stadium, Reid doled out compliments for Fisher, the former No. 1 overall pick. After a shaky preseason, Fisher has made measured progress. On Sunday, he set up a touchdown with a key block on running back Knile Davis’ 21-yard touchdown burst.

“We feel very good about him, and how he handles things,” Reid said of Fisher. “He’s a good football player. But he’s young, and he’ll just keep getting better. He did a nice job yesterday. It doesn’t matter who you are or what position you play, you got to give the players a little time to grow.”

To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to Follow him on Twitter @rustindodd.

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