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Eric Bieniemy believes Chiefs’ running backs are feeding off one another

After the best Kansas City rushing performance of the season, the offensive coordinator came away impressed.

Kansas City Chiefs v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Entering the 2022 season, it was widely assumed that the Kansas City Chiefs’ starting back running back job was Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s to lose. Through four games, that’s proving to have been a wise assumption. Edwards-Helaire is averaging a career-high 5.1 yards per carry — while also pacing the team with five total touchdowns.

In the Chiefs’ less-than-inspiring 20-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts just two weeks ago, Edwards-Helaire was held to zero (yes, zero!) rushing yards on seven attempts. But in Sunday’s 41-31 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he responded with 92 yards rushing on 19 carries — a performance that Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy described as “one of his better games.”

“He’s doing a great job of accelerating through and finishing runs,” Bieniemy told reporters on Friday. “First and foremost, this is probably the first year he’s been healthy in a long time. But on top of that, his practice habits have picked up; he’s learning how to make second effort a habit. So it’s not by chance that you’re seeing those runs on game day. It’s because he’s doing the same thing in practice — where he’s finishing.”

Edwards-Helaire wasn’t the only running back who impressed during Sunday night’s game, which also featured a breakout performance from seventh-round rookie Isiah Pacheco. The former Rutgers star rushed for a career-high 63 yards on 11 carries — an outing that Bieniemy believes is a product of the work he’s putting in off the field.

“The thing I love about him is he listens in meetings,” Beiniemy explained. “He observes when he makes a mistake. He’s very observant. He studies his mistakes. And very seldom does he repeat a mistake.”

While Pacheco may not possess the same lateral quickness — or have the pass-catching experience — as his teammate Edwards-Helaire, Bieniemy still thinks his rookie running back brings something unique to the table.

“He plays with tremendous balance,” observed Bieniemy. “He’s got a different type of juice to him. So I think he gives us something just a little different from the other guys.”

If the first four games of the season are any indication, all of Kansas City’s running backs should have opportunities to shine. That includes veteran Jerick McKinnon, who has out-snapped Pacheco by a hefty margin so far. While each of them continues to compete for playing time, Bieniemy believes it will bring the best out of the team’s rushing attack — starting with Week 5’s Monday Night Football game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

“Competition brings out the best in us,“ said the coordinator — himself a former NFL running back. “I think these guys are motivating each other. They’re feeding off of each other.”

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