3. All Three Running Backs Looked Effective
Last season the Chiefs’ run game was a disappointment. While there was some buzz in training camp about Clyde Edwards-Helaire being fully healthy and rookie Isiah Pacheco turning heads, the truth is that even in the preseason games the run game was still underwhelming. That wasn’t the case on Sunday. CEH, Pacheco, and Jerick McKinnon all looked effective. It appears that KC will be able to use any combination of the three this season.
The game started with Edwards-Helaire making a statement. He put up most of his 74 scrimmage yards and both of his touchdowns in the first half. Then as the game played out McKinnon and Pacheco took over more of the load. The trio of running backs combined for 23 carries for 126 yards, 6 receptions for 59 yards, and three total touchdowns. The Chiefs will face teams with better run defenses this season, but if the passing attack is spreading the ball around no defense is going to focus on the run game. So if KC’s running backs can be effective when they get the ball it will be a major boost to the offense.
While I’m a big fan of Jerick McKinnon, the two things that excited me the most in this game were CEH’s involvement in the passing game and how good Isiah Pacheco looked running the ball late in the game. Clyde was drafted in large part because of his pass-catching abilities and thus far KC hasn’t taken enough advantage of that. If he can play a key role in KC’s new “spread the ball around” passing philosophy it will help a lot. As far as Pacheco goes, the fact that Arizona knew that KC was going to run the ball to eat up the clock and he still averaged 5.2 yards per carry was impressive.
The Chiefs running backs may be of secondary importance when compared to Patrick Mahomes and the overall passing attack, but if they can make the most of the opportunities they get it will make the Chiefs nearly unbeatable. I wasn’t sure we’d see this much upside from the running backs in this game and the fact that we did is very encouraging.
Now let’s talk about the defense.