KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mitchell Schwartz can't stifle his smile when asked about the one player he won't see this weekend when the Chiefs travel to Oakland. The Raiders no longer have Khalil Mack in the silver and black after his trade to Chicago earlier this season, and that makes life a bit easier for Schwartz.
“It's a good thing,” Schwartz said with a laugh. “He presents a bevy of challenges.”
Schwartz is having arguably the best season of his seven-year career. Head coach Andy Reid calls Schwartz “a heck of a football player.” The Chiefs offense continues rolling right along, and it's been a blast for the 29-year-old right tackles and his teammates along the line.
“It's fun to be a part of this offense,” Schwartz said. “We do a lot of stuff that is offensive line friendly. Coach Reid being a former lineman understands the paths that we have week in and week out.”
Despite his resume and long-term success against players such as Denver's Von Miller, Schwartz has never earned a Pro Bowl nomination, a snub Reid hopes gets rectified this year.
“I went through this with Jon Runyan who was phenomenal and it didn't go his way for all that stuff,” Reid said, mentioning his longtime right tackle in Philadelphia who earned just one Pro Bowl bid in 14 NFL seasons. “But yet he was a great player, and Mitch is kind of in that same boat right now. He's as deserving as anybody for an honor.”
But Schwartz gives credit to his former opponent Mack along with Miller and Los Angeles Chargers pass rushers Melvin Gordon and Joey Bosa. He says facing those players six times a year in the AFC West sharpened his game.
“You've got to go against the best a lot,” Schwartz explained. “I think that gives you good experience when you've seen Von's speed, you've seen Melvin's speed, you've seen Khalil's power and Bosa's maneuverability. If you block those guys then there's not anyone better than those set of guys.”
The Raiders defensive front looks much different without both Mack and defensive end Bruce Irvin, whom the team released earlier this season. Fifth-round pick Maurice Hurst Jr. from Michigan leads the team with four sacks at defensive tackle. No one else still on the team has more than one sacks on the season.
But Schwartz, who spent a few seasons on struggling teams in Cleveland during his first four years in the league, says the Chiefs can't overlook the Raiders.
“We understand that any team can beat any team any given week,” Schwartz said. “Anyone on that defensive line can beat you any single play.”