In the fourth quarter, Kansas City’s offense was marching down the field—down by a single point with a couple minutes on the clock—with all three timeouts. The Ravens had only one remaining, which was likely being saved to ice Harrison Butker.
However, Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s fumble is the biggest talking point following Sunday’s loss to the Ravens.
How Clyde Edwards-Helaire responds from his fumble will be very important.
For the record, I personally never believe in one play or one individual being the reason for any outcome. Similar to Dee Ford when he was offsides in the 2018 AFC Championship loss, there were other factors that played into the defeat. However, that is how most sports fans react following a loss. Most sports fans point the finger on a mishap that took place late in a game and blame the guilty player for that error.
Many Chiefs fans took to social media to blame Edwards-Helaire for Kansas City’s first loss of the season. I have not seen Chiefs fans blame one individual to this magnitude like this since Ford for his offsides call.
What happened Sunday night happened and can’t be changed, but how Edwards-Helaire responds from this will be important.
The morning after the Chiefs drafted Edwards-Helaire in the 2020 NFL Draft, NFL Network’s Peter Schrager said “general managers threw their papers off their desk” when he fell to the Chiefs. That was the first indication we got that maybe the Chiefs got a steal with the 32nd pick.
Fast forward to September 10, 2020. Edwards-Helaire made his NFL debut when the Chiefs played host to the Texans to open up the 2020 season. Edwards-Helaire had a great debut, rushing 25 times for 138 yards and a touchdown. Five weeks later against the Bills, Edwards-Helaire ran for 161 yards. Six weeks into the season, Edwards-Helaire was second in rushing yards behind Tennessee’s Derrick Henry.
Those were the only two games Edwards-Helaire ran for more than 100 yards. He was quiet the rest of the year. He missed three games his rookie year and the divisional round of the playoffs due to a hip injury, preventing him from reaching the 1,000-yard rushing mark in his first season.
Fast forward to the 2021 season, Edwards-Helaire has not contributed to Kansas City’s offense. He ran 14 times for 43 yards in Week 1 against the Browns and ran 13 times for 46 yards against the Ravens. He is averaging 3.3 yards per carry.
For reference, Ravens running back Ty’Son Williams is averaging 6.5 yards per carry through two games this year. Williams is an undrafted player signed after the 2020 NFL Draft who started the year as a third-string running back who has now been elevated to lead back due to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards suffering season-ending injuries before the season kicked off.
I don’t agree with blaming Edwards-Helaire for the Sunday’s loss, but after a quiet rookie year and a very rough start to the 2021 season, it is understandable why some Chiefs fans aren’t happy with his production. However, his teammates aren’t giving up on him.
In his postgame press conference, Patrick Mahomes told the media that he told Edwards-Helaire “don’t let one game define you.” Mahomes went on to tell the media that the team will “need him the whole entire season.”
It is easy for fans to give up on a player after a costly mistake during a rough start to a season. But how does Edwards-Helaire respond?
Look at 2010 when Dwayne Bowe dropped a wide open touchdown in the end zone against the Colts, which played a big role in the team’s first loss that year. Bowe responded by scoring 14 touchdowns after that drop, leading the NFL in touchdown catches that year.
This is Edwards-Helaire’s chance to show that he is a better player than this. If he can rebound from this, he will stay in Kansas City for a while. But if he continues to struggle, his time in Kansas City could be nearing an end.