In Week 4, the Kansas City Chiefs cranked out their best rushing performance of the year with 200 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire led all rushers with 102 rushing yards on 14 carries, averaging over seven yards per attempt. His backup Darrel Williams also had a solid day with 42 rushing yards on 10 carries. They each hauled in two receptions, with Edwards-Healire scoring on one of his catches — while Williams found pay dirt on the ground.
Clyde definitely emphasized ball security in Week 4, two hands most of the day, tough to really accelerate without using your arms though which is why you don’t see the explosion. This hole was enormous pic.twitter.com/dkkwWivKJH— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 4, 2021
Fumbles — well, turnovers in general — have plagued the season so far. On Sunday, Edwards-Helaire clearly put a priority on protecting the ball at all costs; he covered it with two hands as contact drew near.
But in this play, the run is blocked so well that this approach is a bit too cautious.
While we should appreciate the effort Edwards-Helaire is making to maintain possession, there is a reason arm swinging is emphasized in sprinting events: it gives you more power. So when you run with both hands on the ball all the time, you lose some of that burst.
As the season progresses, we’ll hope Edwards-Helaire becomes more comfortable.
Nice job by CEH getting north and south, a little burst off the cut, moves pile three yards after contact pic.twitter.com/7YSU9l1mtx— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 4, 2021
While Edwards-Healire can get a little too happy-feetish with some of his cuts, I love seeing the plant-and-go on this play.
He does a nice job of identifying where the hole will be — and once he sees it, getting up the field for yards after contact.
Edwards-Helaire is a powerful runner — and it shows on film. He is a tough guy to bring down.
Clyde makes the catch, turns up, and accelerates, look at the difference in burst when he has one arm free opposed to clips with two arms on the ball. Not complaining about the extra ball security, just pointing it out. Another first down, good job to open the drive pic.twitter.com/YEERMEznb1— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 4, 2021
When the Chiefs drafted Edwards-Helaire a year ago, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is likely what intrigued fans the most — but so far, there haven’t been a lot of plays where he has been utilized as a receiver. However, if teams continue to focus on Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce — and now, Josh Gordon — that could change. The flats could be wide open for quarterback Patrick Mahomes to dump it down for easy yards.
Chiefs ran this play against Browns Week 1, blocked much better this time and goes for much more yardage this time. Burton gets downhill in a hurry pic.twitter.com/bRMhwMioBE— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 4, 2021
In Andy Reid’s offense, the use of fullbacks is underrated; it really is a vital part of the scheme. Against the Eagles, Michael Burton got his second carry of the season. He is now two-for-two with first downs.
Back in Week 1, the Chiefs ran this same play against the Cleveland Browns — and while it did get first-down yardage, it wasn’t blocked properly; it should have gone for more. But in this play on Sunday, the blocking is much better; on third-and-short, Burton gets five good yards.
CEH was a big part of the game plan from the opening drive, nice play design to get into the end zone pic.twitter.com/skHkRYwoiL— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 4, 2021
Meanwhile, Edwards-Helaire caught his second touchdown pass in as many weeks.
After his fumble against the Baltimore Ravens — and coughing it up the following week against the Los Angeles Chargers — the coaching staff could have reduced his carries. Instead, they fed him. In Sunday’s victory, he was a major part of the game plan.
Here, he caps off the opening drive with a well-designed scoring play, first selling the run — and then in a flash, making a 45-degree cut behind the flowing linebacker.
What more could a RB want from his OL? CEH isn’t sniffed until 10 yards down the field. CEH does a nice job to square up until Smith engages before fully & accelerating off his block pic.twitter.com/EwvbxGAx0m— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 5, 2021
Here we see the offensive line do an absolutely brilliant job, springing Edwards-Helaire for a big chunk of yardage. Until he has secured the first down, there isn’t a defender even close to him.
This looks like an easy run — and don’t get me wrong, it is — but Edwards-Helaire does a great job helping right guard Trey Smith set up his block: he squares up to the linebacker — forcing him to commit — and then when Smith is locked in, Edwards-Helaire accelerates past him.
OL again is unreal but CEH with the nice hesitation to allow the double team to get to the next level, textbook all the way around pic.twitter.com/Goowt1jq4r— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 5, 2021
Here is another play in which the offensive line executes perfectly — but again, Edwards-Helaire does his part to get the most out of the rep. His hesitation allows Smith and center Creed Humphrey to develop their double-team. Then Smith peels off to pick up the linebacker while Edwards-Helaire waits patiently for the hole to develop — and once Smith clears out the defender, the running back is off to the races.
You can really see the offensive line starting to gel with the runners — and that is fantastic news.
What I like about Darrel is his downhill maneuvering, he is constantly gaining ground on this play once the ball is in his hands pic.twitter.com/YTOjHTXwj2— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 5, 2021
Darrel Williams is very good at gaining ground while he is making his moves; while he is carrying the ball, we see little-to-no wasted motion. He’s a powerful downhill runner who has the ability to make people miss in small areas.
And here we see that when Williams is in the game, the defense can’t cheat in any way; he’s able to run this screen effectively.
Darrel Williams seeing that hole and hitting it, solid burst through the LOS and sets the offense up for a 2nd and short pic.twitter.com/dyiuzqKYWw— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 5, 2021
Here we see Williams in another nice plant-and-go.
Once he sees the opening, there is no hesitation; he powers through for a nice first-down gain. The linebackers are playing deep to try and stop intermediate throws — so running backs can pick up so much momentum that they can push piles an extra two or three yards.
This happened multiple times during the game — and Chiefs players and coaches took full advantage.
Great cut and acceleration from RB1, peep the one arm acceleration speed but covers at contact, that’s development pic.twitter.com/zDylvTq0Gy— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 5, 2021
This is a solid example of Edwards-Helaire running with one arm free; you can see the difference in acceleration when compared to when he covers the ball from start to finish.
Once again, kudos to the offensive line — but Edwards-Helaire does his part to get north, too. While he doesn’t find the end zone, he does set up a first-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line.
Good, tough, 4th quarter run from CEH, good job of running behind his pads pic.twitter.com/NAB62senQE— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) October 5, 2021
Here we see just the kind of run the Chiefs need when they have a late lead: gritty, tough and properly securing the ball.
Edwards-Helaire gets skinny through the line of scrimmage, using his shoulder pads to gain as much as he can. Then he refuses to go down easily — but while doing so, doesn’t sacrifice ball security.
The bottom line
In order for Kansas City to be in a position to win each game, turnovers must continue to be avoided. Edwards-Helaire has responded to heavy on-field adversity in just the way you’d expect: as a professional. He eclipsed 100 yards for the second week in a row — but still has yet to score on the ground. Against the Buffalo Bills in Week 5, I expect that to change.