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Eric Fisher has to be a bit jealous of Orlando Brown, Jr. at this point, and it’s not just about the fact that he’s gainfully employed in his old spot as the Kansas City Chiefs starting left tackle. It’s also the company he’s keeping along the line.
When the Chiefs first signed Joe Thuney in free agency this spring to a five-year deal worth up to $80 million, it was the first sign of greatness at a position that had been nothing but a laughable revolving door for the entirety of Andy Reid’s tenure as the team’s head coach.
While some players had been promising or even somewhat solid in that role, the Chiefs had also employed some clear reaches at left guard. Names like Mike McGlynn, Cam Erving, and Bryan Witzmann should come up in memories for fans in Chiefs Kingdom in recent years. Unfortunately even solid vets like Ben Grubbs or Kelechi Osemele fell to injuries and were unable to stabilize the position.
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Andy Reid has his first real high-end potential at left guard in Joe Thuney.
Even when the Chiefs had younger guards who could play, the ceiling was clearly not up to par for what the team would need for the long term. Andrew Wylie was a revelation as a fill-in guard who even earned the team’s Mack Lee Hill award for the team’s best rookie, and Nick Allegretti did an admirable job last season after Osemele went down with knee injuries. However, there’s a reason the Chiefs presented Thuney with such an offer to solidify the position.
For the last five seasons, the New England Patriots have known they have an absolute rock to lean upon at the left guard position, the very opposite of the Chiefs in that role. Thuney was their third round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of North Carolina State, and Thuney has started every single game for the Pats ever since his selection.
While he surprisingly has not earned his first Pro Bowl berth (yet) in his pro career, Thuney was already named a second-team All-Pro in 2019 and it feels safe to assume that future Pro Bowl appearances are in his future given his steady play, his versatility, and his transition to (another) team often playing in primetime. It cannot hurt to block for Patrick Mahomes on a regular basis.
Back to Fisher, who was forced to be the pillar next to the carousel of below average players who often stood next to him along the line. Thinking back to the cast of characters next to him makes it easier to appreciate what he brought to the team and the stability he offered on that side. As for Brown, he’s going to enjoy the NFL’s version of an All-Star next to him as the Chiefs hope to form one of the best left sides in all of football to protect their greatest asset.
For head coach Andy Reid, it will be the first time he’ll be working with high-end talent on the left side of the interior. Chiefs Kingdom can only hope it enhances his ability to do what he wants offensively, which is a scary sign for the rest of the NFL who is already playing catch up.