Isiah Pacheco is more than a spare part for Kansas City Chiefs

In a victory over the division rival Las Vegas Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs' offense showed signs of life. While unconventional, Sunday's win affirms that Isiah Pacheco must be a foundational part of the offensive reclamation project.

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders
Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders / Jeff Bottari/GettyImages

Professional football certainly has its nuances and complexities, but sometimes the game is simple. On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs bested the Las Vegas Raiders 31-17 and improved to 8-3 on the season. Andy Reid and company's offensive strategy was to put the ball in the hands of their playmakers. In the contest, Travis Kelce, Isiah Pacheco, and rookie receiver Rashee Rice accounted for 34 touches. The trio combined for 287 yards from scrimmage and 3 touchdowns. Their three-headed monster led the Chiefs' offense with 22 targets on Sunday.

Former Rutgers Scarlet Knight Isiah Pacheco led the way for Kansas City in Week 12. After punting on each of their first two offensive possessions, Pacheco would score on two of the next three drives. Two of those scores were in dreaded third-and-short situations where the Chiefs have struggled throughout the season. His 89 total yards on Sunday provided a lift to the offense. He didn't have any game-breaking plays, but his ability to get positive yardage on first down helped Kansas City find some momentum once they fell into a 14-point hole.

While unconventional, Sunday's win affirms that Isiah Pacheco must be a foundational part of the Chiefs' offensive reclamation project.

In his sophomore season, Pacheco has amassed 865 yards from scrimmage and a team-high 6 touchdowns. Pacheco needs just 331 rushing yards over the next six games to post his first 1,000-yard season. He's proven himself reliable in the run game, as a pass catcher out of the backfield, and as a key piece in pass protection. When the offense stalls, he often lifts the offense with a chunk play. His physical style and tenacity add a dimension to an offensive unit defined by complexity and flare, but not as much by toughness.

In short-term situations, he's part of Kansas City's offensive identity. The sooner head coach Andy Reid realizes that fact, the better his offense will be with Pacheco as a key cog in the wheel. The Chiefs will never be a run-first team under Reid, nor should they be, but the goal should be to put the ball in Pacheco's hands 17-20 times per game. He will help keep this offense on schedule with positive yardage on early downs and occasionally spring one into the open field with his game-breaking speed. On Sunday, the Chiefs were highly efficient in red zone scoring on three of four attempts. Pacheco accounted for two of those trips to paydirt.

Next Sunday would be an ideal time to again feature Pacheco in the run game. The visiting Green Bay Packers entered Week 12 as the league's 29th-ranked rush defense. In fact, three of Kansas City's last six opponents occupy the bottom third in the NFL at stopping the run. Pacheco can help take some pressure off of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce in a season where they've generally been the singular contributors to this offense. With Jerick McKinnon out against the Raiders, the Chiefs got to see Pacheco's ability to be a multi-purpose tool on that side of the football.

In his short time with the Chiefs, Pacheco's proven the ability to get the offense going after a lull. Think back to the divisional round in the 2022 postseason. Everyone remembers the 98-yard touchdown drive then-backup Chad Henne led when a hip-drop tackle sent Patrick Mahomes into the stadium for an x-ray. Pacheco's 39-yard run to Jacksonville's four-yard line helped the Chiefs open up a two-score lead over the Jaguars. Three weeks later in Super Bowl LVII, the player affectionately known as "Pop" would score on Kansas City's first drive of the second half (cutting Philadelphia's lead to just three points).

The math is simple. For the remainder of the regular season, Reid has to acknowledge Pacheco as part of his immediate family and not a distant cousin who visits the family home over the summer. He's one of the precious few players on this offense who can create chunk plays. He has a rare combination of size and physicality. Temperamentally, he's an angry player with the kind of mean streak a struggling offense needs. Give the young man the keys and let him drive the car, Andy. Your season may depend on it.