Just over two weeks ago, former Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware was at home. After being signed to the Indianapolis Colts in April, he’d been cut at the end of training camp. He was out of football.
But the Chiefs had a problem: running back Darrel Williams needed to go on injured reserve. With Damien Williams still nursing a rib injury, that left the Chiefs with only veteran LeSean McCoy and rookie Darwin Thompson at running back.
So on December 3, Ware found himself getting one more chance with the Chiefs, where he played from 2015 through 2018.
“One of the reasons you bring him back is his production from when he was here before,” said head coach Andy Reid the next day. “And he knows the offense, so he doesn’t have to go through that whole thing.”
Ware apparently remembered the playbook well — and had kept himself ready to play, too. Just five days after being signed, Ware played more snaps than any other Chiefs running back during the Chiefs’ 23-16 road victory over the New England Patriots. Then it happened again the following week, as the Chiefs defeated the Denver Broncos 23-3.
It’s not because Ware has been running over opposing defenses; he’s had just 37 yards on 12 carries. But 25 of those yards were very important, coming on the last drive of the Broncos game. Ware got every snap of a six-play series that consumed almost five minutes to ice the game — the very kind of drive the Chiefs have had trouble executing in 2019.
Nor is that the only way that Ware has been contributing. Against the Patriots, Ware put defensive tackle Adam Butler on the ground — and then positioned himself as an open receiver underneath.
A week later, against the Broncos, Ware absolutely trucked linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, opening the way for an easy Mahomes run.
Block by Spencer Ware #Yeslawd pic.twitter.com/iSRYsjpWy7— Steel balls aka alleycat (Alan Moore) (@1963alleycat) December 15, 2019
It’s these plays — and others — that led Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager to proclaim on Wednesday that for his money, Ware is “the best blocking running back in all of football.”
In the snow, the @Chiefs offense looked like they did when they were at their best in 2018. @PSchrags shows us two outstanding Mahomes passes and the best blocking running back in all of football - @spenceware11 - doing his best.— GMFB (@gmfb) December 18, 2019
@ArrowheadPride | #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/NOTtmrLIzg
“He can bring a pretty good strike with him when he hits you,” said Reid on Wednesday. “[That’s] important with the linebackers. Normally they’ve got a running start. You’re just getting a step or two before you have to block them. You’ve got to bring a little bit of force with you. He’s able to do that. He’s good at reading things; [he’s] football-smart.”
One of the problems the Kansas City offense has had to face this season has been protecting quarterback Patrick Mahomes — often with a patchwork offensive line. More than a few have suggested that since Mahomes returned from injury, he’s been unable to trust his pass blocking.
And perhaps he still can’t. But if he can trust Spencer Ware to pick up the slack, maybe that doesn’t matter as much.