A Sunday night loss against the Baltimore Ravens revealed some of the Kansas City Chiefs’ weaknesses — notably, their rushing attack, which many thought would show up in a big way against Baltimore.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs’ running game was more akin to a disappearing act than a formidable offensive force. With 64 total rushing yards, Kansas City looked foolish in their ground game.
However, no one had as tough a night running the ball as Kansas City’s lead back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. With 46 yards rushing in Sunday’s contest and a game-sealing fumble to boot, not much went right for the second-year back out of LSU. With 89 yards through the first two games this season, Edwards-Helaire has yet to live up to his status as a first-round pick. But not all is lost for CEH and the Chiefs’ running game.
Much of the trouble that plagued the Kansas City rushing attack can be attributed to timing and scheme. CEH was one of the best running backs on inside schemes during his time at LSU but was consistently out on the edge against Baltimore.
Given these stats, Edwards-Helaire was much more effective on inside carries. Outside runs and sweeps were his kryptonite in the Baltimore defeat. With an improved O-line, it seems counterintuitive to consistently rush on the outside when your lead back has shown to be better in between the tackles.
This Sunday, there is an opportunity for ground-game success against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers gave up 180 yards rushing to Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott, who averaged almost six yards per carry.
Facing one of the most porous rush defenses he’ll see all year, Edwards-Helaire should be able to open things up against Los Angeles. Last year LA ranked 15th in rushing yards allowed, and their 4.5 average yards per carry hasn’t gotten much better at the start of the season. With the loss of Melvin Ingram and Nick Vigil in the offseason, the Chargers have lost depth and experience in the run game, and it has shown early on. Through the first two games of this season, the Chargers have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards at 324 with an average of 5.6 yards per carry.
Edwards-Helaire is no stranger to bullying a team’s weak run defense. Last season, CEH rushed for 161 yards against the Buffalo Bills, a career-high. He gained those 161 yards after a dismal 40-yard performance against the Las Vegas Raiders the week before. Like LA, the Bills had a middle-of-the-road run defense last season, ranking 16th in the NFL in yards allowed. Early in his career, Edwards-Helaire has proven that he can bounce back after a poor performance and play at a high level.
With this new and improved O-line in front of him, and two weeks of film to address issues in scheme and approach, a bounce-back game seems likely for the second-year back. After a fumble in crunch time, a Week 3 date with L.A. is exactly what CEH needs.