Clyde Edwards-Helare deserves more credit than he’s getting

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 23: Clyde Edwards-Helaire #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 23, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 23: Clyde Edwards-Helaire #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 23, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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Chiefs Kingdom, rejoice! Ahead of you lies the fourth AFC Championship at Arrowhead Stadium in as many years. Kansas City has entered uncharted grounds as the first franchise in NFL history to host four straight AFC Championship games, and has emerged as the newest member of football’s iconic “dynasty” conversation.

Following the 42-36 victory over Buffalo, there is an infinite list of points to celebrate, however, one topic that many won’t care to dive into must be discussed. The cries for Jerick McKinnon to emerge as the leading back for the Chiefs were met with volume in the divisional round, as Clyde Edwards-Helaire fell to the supplemental role in the rushing attack in his return from injury which left him on the shelf for the past three games.

With the surplus of Chiefs Kingdom faithful that I’ve seen call for his benching, I assume there must have been a few of you disappointed to see him rise to the occasion. The kid capitalized on his opportunity, and I will stand by his side to support and highlight the action that fell before our eyes this week. I’ve already written at length in his defense as “Mr. Right Now” for Kansas City, and am officially cementing my position atop the Clyde Edwards-Helaire Fan Club.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire deserves far more credit than he’s received after looking good on Sunday against the Bills.

The pressing question at hand is who deserves the touches at running back. Why, if Jerick McKinnon and Darrel Williams found success at the position amid his absence, would Clyde reassume the position of running back one upon his return? The answer, which I look forward to debating with many of you, can be found within another question: If RB1 falls to injury, is RB2 expected to rise to the occasion, and maintain the rushing threat, or is his presence expected to lead to more complex adjustments among an offense?

I’ll reiterate in baseball terms; if the fifth man in the starting rotation takes three starts off to nurse a sore shoulder, should his replacement be expected to compete, or do we just take three losses in our starter’s absence as a result?

The answer, in either instance, is rather simple and follows the “next man up” mentality. Of course, the replacement should compete. 

I would like to make it abundantly clear that this is not a slander piece on McKinnon, as I am not so stubborn as to ignore the fact that his 77 yards from scrimmage certainly contributed to Sunday night’s victory, or that he single-handedly dismembered the Steelers in the Wild Card round.  However, the condemned and presumably — per narrative amongst the Kingdom — inept CEH overwhelmingly eclipsed that effort—particularly in terms of efficiency.

McKinnon received 10 carries and accrued a total of 24 yards for an average of 2.4 yards/carry on Sunday. He registered 5 yards on his longest rush of the night. It was a physical run, that led to a crucial first down pick-up, but nonetheless, his greatest effort of the night resulted in 5 yards. Clyde, the back who is “too small” and has “no vision,” was given a mere 7 touches on the ground, and averaged 8.6 yards/carry en route to an impressively efficient 60 yards, which were highlighted by a memorable 22-yarder.

McKinnon received more attention than Clyde in the passing game, earning 7 targets, 5 of which he hauled in, for a total of 54 yards. CEH, in comparison, received just one target, which he caught, for 9 yards. Almost equivalent, again, in terms of efficiency. The difference was only found in volume and opportunity.

Here’s my bottom line, and if you hate it, I’m open to conversation, but I won’t ever apologize for it. CEH hasn’t been Priest or Larry or Jamaal or Kareem out of the gate, but he embodies what this year’s Kansas City team represents: relentlessness. They get hit, and they get back up. The Chiefs were down by 3 with 13 seconds in regulation on Sunday night and won by 6.

There’s just no reason for the Clyde Edwards-Helaire hate. Instead, he deserves far more credit for his toughness and the commitment the kid puts on display week in and week out.

Go Chiefs, baby.

Next. Six reasons why Chiefs-Bills was the best football game ever. dark