Clyde Edwards-Helaire put up a stellar night that should help him in the race for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Through five weeks, Edwards-Helaire had proven to be an impressive young playmaker for the Chiefs offense as he learned Andy Reid‘s playbook. The former LSU running back was the first overall pick for the Chiefs in the 2020 NFL Draft, so expectations were obviously high (he was also the first running back taken in the draft class). However, the buzz was also tempered knowing that Edwards-Helaire was just one of many mouths to feed.
Before Monday’s win over the Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs had watched Edwards-Helaire flash the sort of game-changing potential as both a runner and pass catcher that led to Brett Veach selecting him at No. 32 overall. Through five games, Edwards-Helaire had 81 carries for 344 yards and 1 touchdown, good for a decent 4.2 yards/carry average. He also had 17 receptions for 169 yards. The sum total was 513 yards from scrimmage.
Those numbers sound good enough in an offense with so many other playmakers—including Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Sammy Watkins—but Edwards-Helaire had his low points. His blocking skills left something to be desired. Also apart from a stellar debut with 138 rushing yards, Edwards-Helaire had averaged a pedestrian 3.7 yards/carry over the last month.
On Monday, Edwards-Helaire was ready to silence his critics. He got the ball early and often against the Bills on a rainy night that would dictate how the game would flow, and he took full advantage of the touches. By game’s end, he had 26 catches for a career-high 161 rushing yards and another 4 catches for 8 yards. His rushing average was an astounding 6.2 yards/carry on a night where the Chiefs makeshift offensive front was creating holes left and right.
At this point, Edwards-Helaire now has 505 rushing yards in only 6 games, which places him second behind Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans. (Henry has only 5 games to his credit, so his lead will be quite safe.) The next closest rookie back is Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts, who has 89 carries for 367 yards on the ground and 3 scores.
When it comes to the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Edwards-Helaire now has to be considered a solid candidate alongside receivers like Justin Jefferson and Ceedee Lamb and quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. There’s still a lot of football left to play, but it’s clear the Edwards-Helaire is becoming a very important part of this Chiefs offense. As he continues to grow as a player and learn Reid’s offense even more, it should be exciting to see how he fares in the race for OROY.
At the very least, his game against the Buffalo Bills put him squarely back in the conversation.