Whenever there is an injury in the NFL, the go-to cliché you always seem to hear is “next man up.” When Clyde Edwards-Helaire went down in week 15 against the New Orleans Saints, the “next man up” cliché seemed more pertinent than ever.
This became especially apparent with the Chiefs’ second-string RB Le’veon Bell went down with a knee injury, it would become the second postseason in a row when the Chiefs became dependent on a running back named D. Williams for primary running back duties. Barrel Darrel stepped up and showed out in the games leading up to this year’s Super Bowl.
Darrel Williams went from an undrafted journeyman running back to the feature back in the most dangerous offense on its’ way to a second straight Super Bowl. Talk about the turnaround of the century. “Dirty” Darrel Williams had the game of his career against the Browns, setting career highs by rushing for 78 yards while being in the game for 79% of the Chiefs offensive snaps, setting another career-high with 13 carries.
These career highs came in a game when the Chiefs offense sorely needed a strong showing from the running game, with our spiritual and offensive leader Patrick Mahomes out for the game in concussion protocol. With Chad Henne in the game, Williams picked up a vital 4th down conversion on a pitch to the left. He also averaged six yards a carry, this being only the second time a Chiefs running back had achieved that this season.
Head Coach Andy Reid was impressed with Williams showing against the Browns, saying “Darrel is strong-minded kid, so I’m proud of him and how he’s handled things. He had a nice year last year. He comes in, he got hurt, and then he comes back and he worked his tail off to get himself back into football shape, and it’s paying off for him. So, he’s done a nice job for us and I’m happy for him. He’s a good kid, so you’re happy for those guys that work their tail off and are good people.”
Even with Clyde Edwards-Helaire back when the Chiefs played the Bills in the AFC Championship Game, he clearly wasn’t at full health. This gave Williams an opportunity to receive the majority of the carries, and Williams stepped up and excelled when given the opportunity. Williams’ hard-nosed running style was a perfect thunder to Edwards-Helaire’s lightning.
The bruising back racked up 52 yards on 13 carries, averaging 4 yards per carry. He also punched in a touchdown run from 5 yards out, running over a couple of Bills defenders along the way. Williams was able to keep the Bills defense honest, preventing them from playing everyone in pass coverage to slow down Mahomes, and forcing them to keep enough people in the box to slow down the run.
So far in the playoffs, Williams has been a huge part of the Chiefs offense and has proven to be a lethal runner out of the Chiefs backfield, keeping teams honest and allowing Mahomes the ability to throw the ball at will. Barrel Darrel Williams has been lethal thus far in the playoffs, and let’s hope he can continue this into the upcoming Super Bowl.