How the Chiefs should use Clyde Edwards-Helaire in 2021

The Chiefs 2020 First Round Draft pick showed sparks of excellence in his first season in the NFL. His impact could be even greater in the 2021 season with some more scheme diversity as well as a revamped offensive line.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is going to be a problem for teams during the 2021 NFL season. He is going to be what keep’s opposing linebackers up at night, and the demon that defensive coordinators will choose to handle. They won’t have a choice in how to stop him, because if they do want to stop him, and if they do plan to stop him, that would mean they are going to have to pack down on the box and leave their secondary in a very bad position.

The Mahomes effect has lead to this interesting predicament that opposing defenders will find themselves in this season.

Of course, the last time we saw our Kansas City Chiefs play, it went far from expected and was a complete disaster. However, even on the darkest days, a brief ray of sun was shown.

The Tampa defense was hailed as the blueprint to stop the Chiefs, but with the coverage-heavy look, the Chiefs did find a major flaw in the plan. It came too little too late, but even the league’s top-run defense gave up chunks to Edwards-Helaire. He also made some plays.

Running into boxes where offensive linemen can have even matchups, and win the angle battle is every runningback’s dream, and we did see the flashes of it times throughout the season, most specifically against the New Orleans Saints.

Keep in mind all of the clips above and below are with what is basically a makeshift offensive line, an offensive line that was only healthy for four total weeks in 2020, and the same unit that was completely overhauled during the offseason.

With the Chiefs reloading the offensive line by adding Joe Thuney, Kyle Long, and Austin Blythe in free agency, as well as drafting Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith. The team will also get back opt-outs Lucas Niang, and Laurant Duvernay-Tardiff. The team also made a blockbuster trade a week before the draft adding stand-out left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the roster.

The thing that is most interesting to me about how the new OL can help bring out the full game of Edwards-Helaire is that almost every player mentioned above has had experience in some different type of scheme, and will bring their own unique ability to the table. They have technicians, they have athletes, they have maulers, and they have size. These players have not had much time to play much together, and I will write more in the future about what it is going to take for them to become a cohesive dominant unit.

It may seem right now that I’m writing about Edwards-Helaire as if he was a one-hit-wonder player during his rookie season, but when healthy he was very effective for the Chiefs, despite how much KC passes the football, and how poor the offensive line played at times. He finished the season with 1,100 all-purpose yards (803 rushing, and 297 receiving), which considering the number of weapons the Chiefs the offense had coming into the season was impressive.

The new offensive line should boost the entire Chiefs offense and help Edwards-Helaire bring some serious punch to the Chiefs rushing game. That is going to be a great addition to what the Chiefs have, but as we all know Kansas City is and always will be a pass-first team while Patrick Mahomes is in charge. It’s a good thing that versatility is the name of the game for Edwards-Helaire.

During 2020 Edwards-Helaire was called on only in small doses to catch passes lined up wide, or run advanced routes out of the backfield. That needs to change for 2021. He has shown the ability to run solid routes out of the backfield, and by sending him in motion out wide it can lead to easy check downs. His hands are good, but the way he looks the ball in for a running back is highly impressive. His quick-twitch to separate from linebackers has elite potential.

The table is set for the Chiefs to have an elite running back once again. The pieces are all in line, literally, and it is time to pound the rock. Every snap the Chiefs can gain yards with CEH will put defenses in predicaments, it will be crushing.

Let Clyde eat.