Close to flawless: Creed Humphrey film review
It's time we talk about why the Chiefs' rookie center is already one of the best in the game.
When people talk about the Chiefs’ offensive line, they might start with rookie right guard Trey Smith. This makes sense, as Smith’s highlight-grabbing pancakes have become a weekly staple in the Chiefs offense.
Or perhaps people will talk about Joe Thuney, the league’s highest paid guard who has been quietly excellent despite playing most of the season with a broken hand. The conversation might drift to left tackle Orlando Brown, a massive human who is in the final year of his contract and has been solid in his first year in a very different system.
The conversation almost never starts with Creed Humphrey. But it should, because the rookie center has been not only been the best offensive linemen in Kansas City in 2021, he’s been one of the very best in the league.
Humphrey hasn’t been the player who has grabbed the most headlines in Kansas City, but he should be getting as much or more publicity than nearly anyone wearing red and gold. The rookie out of Oklahoma has stepped in immediately and become a stalwart at a position that is incredibly difficult to excel in as a rookie, and he’s made it look easy while doing it.
But why is that? What is it exactly that makes Humphrey so exceptional? Well, the only way to answer questions like that is to look at every snap. Often times, we tend to focus only on highlights that show traits (this is especially true with offensive linemen, where a flashy play can make or break how a fanbase views a player), but it’s what occurs over time that matters the most.
And so, with this being the bye week, I figured it was high time to talk about what exactly it is that makes Humphrey worth every accolade he gets, and more. And to do so, I charted 6 of the Chiefs’ early games. I would have done more, but in this case it wasn’t necessary (I’ll explain why shortly), and frankly… I’m on vacation, people.
Before we dive in, a reminder of how I chart offensive lineman snaps:
I chart every pass blocking and run blocking down for wins, losses, and neutral snaps (“PBW” = pass block win, “PBL” = pass block loss, and the same with run blocking), as well as for pressures/hits/sacks allowed on the quarterback. A win is a snap in which the lineman executes an excellent 1x1 block or a great combo block (starting with a double team then getting into space alone). A loss is when a blocker gets beaten or misses a block. A neutral snap is when the blocker might give ground but fights the defender to a draw, or has little to do on the snap.
It’s worth noting that losses are far, far more important than wins for offensive linemen, as in general a dominant block doesn’t guarantee that a play succeeds but losing on a snap can doom a play to failure. So a player having a high win percentage matters a lot less than a low loss percentage, and “neutral” snaps are still a victory of sorts (especially against elite competition).
All right, let’s roll. On a final note, I will at times count screens as a “run block” snap, depending on the assignment for the lineman. Let’s look at the numbers and talk about what makes Humphrey a legitimate candidate for rookie of the year.