KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The loss of another starter along the offensive line prompted the Chiefs to seek a veteran reinforcement, and in Stefen Wisniewski the Chiefs hope they have found a solution to recent injury woes.
The 30-year-old Wisniewski started at both guard and center during his first eight years in the NFL, and his blend of experience and wisdom can help the Chiefs immediately, says head coach Andy Reid.
“He's a real smart guy,” Reid said. “He was that coming out (of Penn State) and he's had that reputation since he's been in the league. Whatever is new he'll learn it, and he's good with all that.”
One reason the Chiefs believe Wisniewski can step in to play quickly is due to his experience in Philadelphia. The lineman spent the past three seasons playing for Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, whose offense derives Reid's offense.
Wisniewski believes he can pickup the understanding of protections and blocking schemes quickly thanks to that connection.
“Luckily the offense is very similar here to Philly,” Wisniewski said. “Obviously Doug Pederson came from here, worked for Andy Reid for a long time, so the offense is very similar. Hoping to be able to pick it up really fast.”
Wisniewski had a roller-coaster experience with the Eagles the past three seasons. He signed with the club as a backup in 2016 before winning the starting job at left guard, earning a three-year contract extension. He started 11 games at left guard for the Eagles in 2017, including during their postseason run and victory over the New England Patriots in the 2018 Super Bowl.
But Wisniewski found himself demoted in October 2018, and disputed that the loss of his starting job was performance related. The Eagled declined his option last March making him a free agent, but re-signed with the club in May.
The Eagles released Wisniewski during the final cut down to the initial 53-man active roster. He spent the past five weeks at his home in State College, Pennsylvania at Penn State training on his own.
“But I'm in good shape and I'm ready to go, feeling good,” Wisniewski said.
Reid doesn't want to rush Wisniewski into the lineup. The Chiefs have an immediate need at left guard with starter Andrew Wylie like to miss a week or two with a sprained ankle. The Chiefs have options at left guard, and Wisniewski is certainly one of them against the Houston Texans this Sunday.
“He can be ready if needed, yeah,” Reid said. “But I think we just give him a chance to learn right now.”
Wisniewski relishes the opportunity to rekindle his career in Kansas City playing for Reid.
“I have a lot of respect for him and the program he's done here,” Wisniewski said. “I've heard great things about this organization obviously. Just as a fan of football, I've been watching this team and impressed with all the talent they've got here and excited to have a really good shot of going to the Super Bowl with these guys.”
Wisniewski also understands the Chiefs turned to him to bring stability to an offensive line struggling with injuries and pass protection. The Chiefs offensive line has yielded eight sacks and 13 quarterbacks hits during the past two games. Protecting Patrick Mahomes is the offense's most important mission right now.
“It's a challenge and it's a blessing,” said Wisniewski about protecting quarterbacks such as Mahomes who have the ability to extend plays.
“We know where he's starting the play, you don't always know where he's going to go at the end of it. So you do have to learn to adjust to that. But I've played with running quarterbacks before, Wentz likes to run around a little bit and make plays. As an O-lineman, you just got to kind of be on your toes and just be willing to improvise.”
Wisniewski admits he's excited to watch Mahomes in person for the first time, calling him an “unbelievable play maker, unbelievable athlete.”
“(He) makes throws that not too many people in the world can make, running left, running right, fading back,” Wisniewski said. “It's impressive watching him on TV, I'm excited to watch it up close here being his teammate.”