Clyde Edwards-Helaire primed for more central role in Chiefs offense

Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Being a passionate college football fan does have its advantages when it comes to watching your pro team of choice make its selection during the NFL draft.

If you follow college football as religiously as I do, you will recognize many of the players as they are selected by their NFL teams and be able to formulate an opinion regarding which player your team of choice decides to draft.

When the Chiefs selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd overall pick of the 2020 NFL draft, I was already very familiar with his handiwork, for while LSU played him sparingly during their absolute Mollywopping of my Oklahoma Sooners in the 2019 Peach Bowl,  he was heavily played in the National Championship game against Clemson, where he rushed 16 times for 110 yards and caught an additional 5 passes for 54 yards.

Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire might be primed to take on a more central role in the Kansas City Chiefs offense in 2022.

I knew just what the Kansas City Chiefs were getting with Helaire and he has not disappointed. Let us take a look at what he has brought to the team so far in his first few seasons, and what we hope to see from him in 2022.

Helaire was thrust into the spotlight immediately following starting running back Damien Williams’s decision to opt-out of the 2020 season due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. While no one blamed Williams for this decision, it was readily apparent after Helaire’s first start that the job of starting running back was up for grabs. I remember receiving a text from my father moments after the Chiefs defeated the Houston Texans in their season opener that simply read, “Williams gonna lose his job.”

During that game, Helaire rushed 25 times for 138 yards and scored a rushing TD, leading the Chiefs to a 34-20 victory to start the season. This feat made Helaire the youngest player in NFL history to rush for at least 130 yards and a rushing TD during his NFL debut, for he was only 21 years old at the time. During Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills, he would rush 26 times for 161 yards, slogging his way through pouring rain, and lead the Chiefs to a 26-17 victory in Buffalo.

Unfortunately, Edwards-Helaire’s stellar start to his NFL career would be somewhat marred by injuries. During a Week 15 game against the Saints, he suffered a hip and ankle injury, knocking him out for the rest of the season. During Weeks 3-4 of the 2021 season, Edwards-Helaire recorded consecutive 100-yard rushing performances. Not even Helaire can dodge, juke, or outrun the injury bug, for he would be struck down in Week 5 with a knee injury and placed on IR, not to be reactivated until November 20.

The production from Edwards-Helaire’s first two seasons with the team is clearly indicative of just how fantastic of a running back he is—and can continue to be—if he can just evade that injury bug long enough to do so. With the starting RB job clearly belonging to CEH and an unproven receiving core without Tyreek Hill, expect to see an ample dosage of Edwards-Helaire.

For the first time since the beginning of the Mahomes era, because of the loss of Hill, we as fans really don’t quite know what to expect from the high-powered Chiefs offense. Frankly, we might have become spoiled by these last few seasons. This makes the Chiefs’ offensive firepower somewhat of a variable, but this also gives Edwards-Helaire the chance to have a strong season. It stands to reason that Mahomes will be more reliant on his two years of experience and familiarity with the Chiefs offense, meaning we might see Mahomes hand CEH the rock more than you might imagine.

Don’t get me wrong, like everyone else in the Kingdom, I have high hopes for rookie receiver Skyy Moore as well as other new receivers. However, it’s nice to know that, if he can avoid becoming injured, Edwards-Helaire can pull his weight and possibly carry the Chiefs to several victories on his back.

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