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ArrowChop: Will Clyde Edwards-Helaire be able to step up in light of Damien Williams’ departure?

With veteran leadership lost due to Damien Williams opting out, will Clyde Edwards-Helaire be able to step up next season?

Hello again everyone and welcome to another week of the ArrowChop! This is the column where we look at the positives/negatives of a certain Chiefs/NFL issue and look at both sides of the aisle. Then you, the readers, will come to your conclusions after I lay out the case. So sit back, relax, and enjoy as we breakdown this week’s hot topic.

The opt-outs are coming in faster than Roadrunner running past Willie E. Coyote’s traps. The Patriots have lost seven players due to it (key players being starting safety Patrick Chung, starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and starting right tackle Marcus Cannon), the Jets have now lost their best defensive player in C.J Mosley, and many other teams have lost key or depth-filler players. We already know about Duvernay-Tardif’s absence and how the Chiefs’ front office found a way to fix it by signing right guard Kelechi Osemele, but now the Chiefs have another position to worry about: the running back spot. Starting running back Damien Williams has decided to opt-out of the 2020 season, which leaves 1st round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire to take the starting role. We must ask ourselves now if Edwards-Helaire will be able to step up in light of Williams’ departure. Let’s break down both sides of the aisle to see what lies before us.

Edwards-Helaire will be able to step up

The first point that can be brought up from this side is the raw talent he has to create monstrous runs and plays. An example of this would be his decision making as many analysts, like Benjamin Solak states, believe that he is a “highly-developed player with an elite mind. Regularly makes the most out of what is offered him by blocking schemes and attacks leverage, combo blocks, and space all with an industrious, but creative approach to the game… dangles the threat of bouncing runs well to make contain players overcommit before knifing upfield.” This would allow Edwards-Helaire to be able to breakdown and read the opposing defense’s scheme easier than your average running back, which gives Mahomes lots of room/play-calls to work with. Other pros that shape his raw talent include, but aren’t limited to his vision, his balance, and his receiving ability.

Another point that can be brought up in this argument is that he’ll have Patrick Mahomes leading the charge and molding him into the best running back possible for the Chiefs’ offense. Mahomes was able to use a serviceable amount of running backs last season to their peak by finding their strengths and using them up as much as he possibly could. Damien could stay in most of the game being the “jack-of-all-trades” that helped keep the running game afloat, McCoy could be used mainly on the outside routes/runs, and so on. During this offseason, Mahomes will be able to identify Edwards-Helaire’s strengths and he’ll use/manipulate them to the best of his spectacular abilities. We also can’t forget that Edwards-Helaire and Mahomes have already held private practices together, so those two may be in better sync then many are predicting them to be.

Edwards-Helaire will not be able to step up

This side mainly falls on the basis of Edwards-Helaire’s ability to “burst” after the plowing through the drudge of the first wave of defenders (his second gear). No one denies the fact that Edwards-Helaire is a powerful running back, but analysts agree that he doesn’t have another burst after the first. An analyst for states that Edwards-Helaire is a “one-speed runner that lacks a true second gear” and Kaelen Jones from The Ringer furthers this point by expressing that his 4.61 40-yard dash time shows that “he doesn’t have a great second gear.” This would be something to look out for as we may not see as many explosive runs as we, the fans, were expecting.

Overall, this is the case for if Edwards-Helaire can step up in light of Williams’ absence. I wish the best for him moving forward as he has a shot to become the number one running back for the Chiefs for many years to come. Thanks for reading today’s ArrowChop and have a pleasant day!

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