The Kansas City Chiefs’ second-year running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was back on the field for the team’s 19-9 win against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11 — his first game back since sustaining a knee injury in Week 5. He was immediately given the bulk of the carries and scored his first rushing touchdown of the season.
Let’s first look at the now-infamous play where the running back was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after pointing a finger toward a defender. Otherwise, it was a well-executed play inside the red zone — where the Chiefs have often struggled.
Love this design and play call in the RZ, CEH does good job selling but easiest TD run he’ll ever see pic.twitter.com/TdSfzxWqXJ— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 30, 2021
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes sets up the pitch to allow Edwards-Helaire a clear path to the end zone — and at the snap, the running back does a nice job selling the fake.
There are those who say Edwards-Helaire shouldn’t have been the first running back taken from the draft board in 2020. In fact, I might be one of them. But he does possess a skillset that shows why he was a first-round pick: his lateral movements are ultra-quick and he is elusive in the hole.
Pretty nice example of CEH’s lateral quickness, he gets a little too wide but if he can learn to throttle that down a bit it’s a dangerous move pic.twitter.com/eVcWoLSyh6— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 30, 2021
On this play, he sets up the defender inside and then glitches back outside. The north-south explosiveness could be better, but it’s nonetheless a good display of Edwards-Helaire’s talent.
Simple RPO that’s gets handed off, good movement up front, CEH gets in behind the big boys, always wise pic.twitter.com/UovFAzIxyn— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 30, 2021
Here, No. 25 gets in behind the wall and sticks his foot in the ground to maximize the yardage. The timing between him and his blocks may be a bit off, but that should get worked out with reps.
Multiple times against Dallas, Edwards-Helaire seemed to be on the verge of breaking big runs — but unfortunately, he never did bust one out. Big running plays are hard to come by in the NFL; defenders are so quick that holes can sometimes be open only for split seconds before they disappear.
Good example of how fast holes close in NFL, but I’ll take a 6-yard gain on 1st every time pic.twitter.com/k91fNFYGWY— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 30, 2021
Here we see such a play. One second, the hole is there — and then it isn’t. Edwards-Helaire attacks the hole, but Dallas defenders rally to the ball in time to limit the gain. Still, the movement that the Chiefs have in the trenches allows a positive first-down play.
Williams cuts backside here and gets swallowed up quickly, I’d like to see him stay on the designed path and follow the pulls pic.twitter.com/kWVx0EuzFG— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 30, 2021
On this rep, you can argue that Darrel Williams makes the wrong read. Even though the play is designed to go off the right tackle, Williams doesn’t follow Joe Thuney and Travis Kelce’s pull blocks. Instead, he tries to hit the back side hole. He gets a modest gain, but he likely would have gained much more by following the planned path.
CEH nearly sneaks out of the other end of the pile but gets snagged up pic.twitter.com/ksrZYXbTrx— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 30, 2021
Here is another example of a play that nearly breaks loose. Edwards-Healire runs into the pile — almost popping out the other side, where a ton of yards are available. But the defensive end is able to shed Andrew Wylie just in time to catch the running back before he squeezes through.
CEH with the impressive footwork, but this run could’ve and should’ve gone for more pic.twitter.com/IgfVLNiRCT— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) November 30, 2021
Here’s yet another play that could have gone for many more yards. We see more impressive footwork and quickness from Edwards-Helaire — and lots of green grass in front of him.
This offensive line is getting really good. And while Edwards-Helaire looked explosive in his comeback, the timing was still just a bit off. Another solid week of practice could iron those things out.
The bottom line
It was good to once again see the running back group at full strength. All things considered, Edwards-Helaire makes the team better when he is available. The offensive line is most effective with power runs — but the RPO (run-pass option) plays have also been effective.
In this Sunday’s game, the Denver Broncos will bring a top-15 rushing defense to Arrowhead Stadium — but a fresh-legged Edwards-Helaire (and an offensive line continuing to gel) should allow the Chiefs to get their rushing yards.