As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare for a primetime showdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there is one phase of the team’s offense that needs to be addressed: the running game.
As a team, the Chiefs struggled on the ground rushing for a total of 58 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries against the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes accounted for almost half of that total with 26 yards, while starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire finished the game with a net total of zero yards and one rushing touchdown.
Head coach Andy Reid knows how important the threat of the running game is for the team’s offense and told reporters that they have worked to identify and fix the problem going forward.
“I can call those at the right time, [in] the right situation, and then again, we all have a piece of it – [we can] block it better, we can run better,” Reid said on Wednesday afternoon. “We’re all taking responsibility for that, so we’ve got to do better. That’s the bottom line. You’re saying – you’re asking the question, we’ve all got to do better, and we’ve got to identify the issue and work with it and get it fixed, which we’ve done.”
Edwards-Helaire — who rushed for 74 yards on eight carries for an average of 9.3 yards per carry in the game prior — felt that the Chiefs’ offense beat themselves on Sunday despite entering the matchup prepared and with the same mindset as previous weeks.
“Honestly, I would say preparation and everything was – I would say – pretty much close to the same,” Edwards Helaire said. “It was just one of those games. It’s football, and every day and every game can always be yours. It’s just one of those things that I felt like from the offensive standpoint that we kind of just shot ourselves in the foot, from the film that we watched and doing the analysis on ourselves. That’s kind of what – as an offensive group – that’s how we came out feeling.”
The Chiefs struggled to get anything going in the rushing department as they faced a stout Colts defensive line. On top of that, the challenge doesn’t get any easier as they face yet another athletic defense in the Buccaneers which has a big reputation for stopping the run. Fortunately, Edwards-Helaire says watching game film of last week’s performance should be beneficial as the team prepares for the weeks to come.
“Yeah, you hear it the whole season, ‘It’s a long season,’” Edwards-Helaire noted. “It’s Week 3, and we’ll be looking back at this depending on how the season goes like, ‘Man, it seems like it was forever and a year ago (we were) just having this conversation.’
“But it’s just one of those things that we will still go back and look at this film and see some of the things that we messed up on and still watch film and plays and formations of defenses from this game that will help us in the future.”
One way the Chiefs have been getting more production from their running backs is through the passing game. As teams look to take away Kansas City’s explosive plays down the field, they leave opportunities for the Chiefs’ running backs to make plays off of short passes. Edwards-Helaire has been productive in this facet of the game with 12 receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns through the first three weeks of the season. He says he relishes in the opportunity to be involved in the passing game and will continue to make the most of it.
“I pretty much said, ‘As soon as Coach Reid gives me the opportunity, go run this route bro, that’s what I’m going to do’ – go run a route and catch the ball,” Edwards Helaire said. “So just having the opportunities and taking full advantage of those opportunities, not only to show that I can do it, but to gain trust from not only Coach Reid but also 15 (Patrick Mahomes) and everybody else on the offense.”
His start to the season has the attention of Mahomes, who also hopes to see Edwards-Helaire continue to thrive in this opportunity as he receives more targets in the offense.
“Yeah, I think you’ve seen it at the beginning of this year, he’s made a lot of plays in the pass game, and he has in his career so far,” Mahomes said of Edwards-Helaire’s impact through the air. “I think if we continue to evolve, you’ll see him get more and more reps, and he’ll go out there and make more and more plays.”
The Chiefs will always be a pass-first team as long as Mahomes leads the offense. However, a solid running game only makes this Chiefs offense more dynamic and dangerous, so hopefully, Edwards-Helaire and the rest of the Chiefs running backs can get back on track during their Week 4 matchup against Tampa Bay.