The glaring problem from Washington’s Week 7 loss was its inability to counter whatever Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale dished out to his front seven. When faced with even the simplest Giants stunts up front, the Chiefs’ starting offense looked like they had never played a down together, much less the previous six games.
Bringing spin and angling circles to other blockers — a skill that can elevate an offensive line as a pass protector toward a higher position, but should also be a minimum expectation — just didn’t happen against the Giants, leaving Howell vulnerable to rushing. Everyone grabbed a bite of the QB sack pie on Sunday, and it became clear that the Chiefs were having an incredibly difficult time trying to get back on track.
Tackle Charles Leno Jr. has seen enough in his 10 NFL seasons and isn’t going to blame the entire problem on the offensive line. He admitted, however, that they had to be better.
“When you have a 1-on-1 matchup, 1-on-1 with somebody in the National Football League, you’ve got to win it,” Leno said. “And it’s 1-on-1 with us as an offensive lineman, a running back, a tight end and a quarterback. When you have a hot route, you’ve got to get the ball out. That’s everybody. Everybody’s in.”
At 3-4, Washington doesn’t have much time to figure it out before it’s too late. The Chiefs also have quite a challenge in their rematch with Philadelphia, a team with five players with 2.5 or more sacks in 2023, and ranks in the top three in sacks (24), QB hits (51) and QB pressures (118). .
Howell is the worst in the NFL in those same three categories, as well as interceptions under pressure (six), a result of the stark contrast in performance under pressure versus playing free of it.
The last time the Eagles and the Chiefs met, Howell tied his own league mark for pressures in a single game (27). Of course, this stat isn’t solely on him, but he can help himself a little by getting the ball out faster at almost any cost.
It’s easy to see why protection will be paramount in this.