A major story coming out of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 27-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday has been the running back usage. Rookie Isiah Pacheco took the lead, gaining 82 yards on 16 carries while taking 56% of the offensive snaps.
But third-year running back (and former first-round pick) Clyde Edwards-Helaire was in for only four total snaps. Edwards-Helaire did not register a rushing attempt and failed to catch a pair of passing targets.
Speaking before Wednesday’s practice, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid discouraged fans and media from major conclusions based on Sunday’s running back usage.
“What I love about Clyde,” Reid declared, “is Clyde wants to play — so I wouldn’t expect anything less than that. How he handled it, though, was like a pro — but he wants to play. I would think less of him if he didn’t want to play.
“So it’s the way that rotation goes. It’s a crazy thing, because we don’t go in [the game] thinking that [Edwards-Helaire won’t get many snaps].
“But because of the way the series worked — [a] short series here and he gets in for three plays — and he’s out. We [didn’t] have that many three-and-outs as an offense — and he happened to be in one of them — so the numbers got skewed.
“It’s kind of what happened with Pacheco before that. We’re working through it. It’s not because of his ability.”
A counterargument to Reid’s position came earlier on Wednesday, when ESPN’s Field Yates reported that Kansas City was interested in adding another running back.
New Texans RB Eno Benjamin was sought after on waivers, the Chiefs, Saints and Seahawks also put a claim in on him, per source.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 16, 2022
The Broncos also put in a claim on DB Justin Layne, who went to the Bears with higher priority.
The head coach — as is typical in personnel matters, which he always defers to general manager Brett Veach — had no comment on the report that the team had put in a roster claim for former Houston Texans running back Eno Benjamin.
“I didn’t hear anything about that,” claimed the head coach, “so I honestly don’t know anything about it. I know Brett looks at everybody — but I never heard that.
“We’re good with what we have right there.”
The unsuccessful claim likely means the status quo will continue for fifth-year running back Ronald Jones. The former second-round pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed with the Chiefs in March — but has been a healthy scratch in all nine of this season’s games. A frustrated Jones recently expressed a desire to be released.
“Ronald’s a capable player,” reiterated Reid of Jones. “It’s the numbers; it all started back at training camp. So when you kind of lose out on the spot, now you’ve got to wait until somebody gets banged-up — or sick or something of that sort — until you get in. You’re not going to dress more than three [running backs] normally — but we feel very comfortable with him being in there, too.”
Though Pacheco took the lead on Sunday, he appeared headed for disaster early in the contest. On the first Kansas City drive, the rookie lost a fumble deep in Jaguars’ territory. In his own media remarks on Wednesday, he recalled the counsel he received from the very player from whom he appears to taking playing time.
“There’s ups and downs in this game,” Pacheco recalled Edwards-Helaire advising him. “Keep your head up and let’s go. We have work to do.”
Though Pacheco appears to have successfully delivered on his initial goal of “taking a grown man’s job,” he knows that his entire position group will contribute to the team’s success — even when they don’t get on the field.
“For me, it’s a brotherhood in the running back room,” he explained. “We’re pushing one another. We’re giving each other examples of how we could have hit runs better — what we see here [and] what they see from the sideline.
“We’re building in this room. There’s a lot of football left — and we need all the guys to compete here to win.”