The Kansas City Chiefs missed their All-Pro right tackle Mitchell Schwartz as he dealt with a back injury, but he’s hoping surgery will help him be back in action for the 2021 NFL season at full strength.
Schwartz announced on Wednesday that he’s having a procedure to address the nagging injury that limited him to only six games in 2020.
Mitchell Schwartz eyes healthy 2021 in announcing surgery
In a post on his official Twitter account, Schwartz explained how he wanted his injury to naturally heal, but had to resort to an operation after his body didn’t respond how he’d hoped:
Across eight prior NFL seasons with Kansas City and Cleveland, Schwartz hadn’t missed a single game, so the back issue was obviously quite severe for him not to be able to suit up on Sundays this past season.
Although star quarterback Patrick Mahomes guided the Chiefs and their explosive offense to a second consecutive Super Bowl berth, Kansas City had no answer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ relentless pass rush in a 31-9 blowout loss on Super Bowl LV Sunday.
Mahomes was under constant duress as Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and other members of the Bucs’ front seven set the tone and never let up en route to lifting the Lombardi Trophy.
Without Schwartz and left tackle Eric Fisher, who tore his Achilles in the AFC title game, the Chiefs were overwhelmed despite the greatness of Mahomes and their skill players.
Mitchell Schwartz will bolster Chiefs’ pass protection in 2021
Pro Football Focus graded Schwartz as the third-best offensive tackle in all of football in 2019 and had him fourth the year before that. Where the 31-year-old really shines is in pass protection, as he routinely handles the most dynamic edge-rushers in the NFL with relative ease compared to most of his peers.
Even with Mahomes’ unconventional style of deep dropbacks, extending plays with his legs in rather unpredictable fashion and roaming all around the field, it’s very rare for Schwartz to yield a pressure. His presence would’ve gone a long way in at least making Super Bowl LV a lot closer than it wound up being.
It’s a testament to the Chiefs’ staff that they managed to get all the way through the AFC even without someone as valuable as Schwartz on the field. There was no way to account for an iron man like Schwartz missing any time, much less most of the season, so credit Kansas City for adjusting on the fly while taking every opponent’s best shot as the defending champs.
Because of Mahomes’ unique arm strength and the uncanny speed of receiver Tyreek Hill, it takes high-quality offensive linemen like Schwartz to have the Chiefs firing on all cylinders so they can take full advantage of their QB’s deep throwing prowess on longer-developing passing plays.
Absent the ability to do that, Kansas City becomes more ordinary, which is what happened in its last dud of an outing against the Buccaneers.
Schwartz will provide much-needed stability in the trenches in front of Mahomes and should also aid the Chiefs’ efforts to become more balanced with an improved rushing attack in 2021. Second-year tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a first-round pick in 2020, so you can bet he’ll be featured more as K.C. takes greater measures to protect its face of the franchise in Mahomes.