Forget about those Chevy commercials starting in the early 1990s, the Mitchell Schwartz video montage really fits perfectly with Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band performing “Like A Rock.”
It probably needs a Mitch Holthus voice-over to set it off just right, but the script likely wouldn’t warrant much alteration. Durability, dependability — it’s all applicable.
OK, Schwartz may not take kindly to any references to rust protection, but you get the point.
Schwartz, now in his seventh NFL season and third as starting right tackle for the Chiefs, has the longest current streak of consecutive snaps (6,934) of any player in the NFL, and his 102 consecutive games started ranks first among offensive tackles. He could reach the 7,000-consecutive snaps milestone at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
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“That doesn’t happen very often,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “You saw the other guy (Joe Thomas) there Sunday (in Cleveland), he was doing a show or something on the sidelines. It is quite a feat. You go back to the Denver game (last year) where I sat a bunch of the guys and he wanted to be out there. If sat (Schwartz) down, he would have done that too, but he wanted to be out there.”
Reid referenced Thomas, Schwartz’s former teammate with the Browns. Thomas had what’s believed to have been the longest consecutive snaps streak in NFL history. From 2007 through the seventh week of 2017, Thomas played 10,363 straight snaps at left tackle.
From 2012 through 2015, Schwartz served as the other bookend on the Browns’ line opposite of Thomas. Thomas, who reportedly lost 50 pounds since retiring, and Schwartz had a chance to talk at FirstEnergy Stadium last week in Cleveland, but the streak was not a topic of discussion.
“He does the weather report before the game,” Schwartz said. “We didn’t talk about the streak. We just kind of caught up and talked about how skinny he looks and all that. He had to get some new suits because he lost too much weight. That’s kind of the extent of it. We kind of hang out ... and don’t talk about anything too serious.”
It’s not a guarantee that the Chiefs offense will run enough plays to get Schwartz past the magic number. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound former second-round pick out of the University of California needs to play 66 snaps to reach 7,000. In two of the past three games the Chiefs have fallen short of that total.
“I think you always want to be available for your teammates and healthy and out there,” Schwartz said. “You know, you’ve got to get lucky in some regards to not get big catastrophic injuries. When you have minor stuff, it’s kind of your job to push through it and make sure that you’re there and you’re available. I do take a lot of pride in that.”
Being available for one particular teammate, quarterback Patrick Mahomes, provided part of the impetus for Schwartz playing in the Broncos game at the end of last season. The Chiefs’ playoff positioning had already been locked in place, but Schwartz felt an obligation to give Mahomes the best chance at success in his first pro start on the road. Of course, that was on top of Schwartz’s desire to keep his streak intact.
Schwartz said it took a “conversation” for he and Reid to agree that Schwartz would play, but Schwartz also noted that if the situation comes up again it could go the other way. Last year, the Chiefs were down to one backup tackle, and Schwartz knows Reid’s decisions will be based on potential impact on the team’s ability to win a championship. That will outweigh any snap-count streak.
“I just wanted to be out there to help make calls and get everyone on the same page,” Schwartz said. “I knew they were going to play their starters for some period. Going against Von (Miller), I kind of liked to be out there and do my best to help keep him clean. So you just kind of feel that sense of responsibility for the quarterback to be out there and make sure he’s protected.”
Left tackle Eric Fisher, Mahomes and Schwartz are the only players to play every offensive snap of the season for the Chiefs. Fisher and left guard Cam Erving have given the offensive line a consistent tandem, while the center and right guard spots have been fluid due to injuries.
Three players have started at right guard next to Schwartz this season. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Jordan Devey and Andrew Wylie have all had at least one start there. Duvernay-Tardif suffered a broken leg, and Devey tore a pectoral muscle. Wylie has started the past three games.
“Mitch Schwartz has been an incredible mentor to me,” Wylie said after taking over the guard spot a couple weeks ago. “He’s one of the best tackles in the NFL, so for me to have the chance to play next to him is a huge advantage for myself. He knows so much about the game. He knows a lot about my game. He helps me. He gives me tips and reminders to help me with my sets and my run blocking, my angles and stuff like that.
“It’s really helped my game, playing next to him.”