The Chiefs must keep involving their running backs in the passing game

The Kansas City Chiefs offense struggled once again, this time on Sunday Night Football at home against the Denver Broncos. The only explosive plays the team was able to create were to their running backs out of the backfield. This trend needs to continue moving forward.

A 22-9 victory over the Denver Broncos kept the Kansas City Chiefs in the first place of the AFC West, while also keeping their hopes alive for the number one seed in the conference alive. A win is a win, but yet again the Chiefs offense left points on the field and seemed to be off. Patrick Mahomes threw for less than 200 yards, running for a touchdown and throwing one interception. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were both held under 30 yards receiving. It was a struggle to move the ball, drops, penalties and all-around poor play kept the Chiefs offense to just 15 total points from offense (one touchdown and three field goals).

The only area of the Chiefs offense that looked good, and has been explosive at all was the passing game to the running backs.

Darrel Williams led all players with 60 yards, his longest being a 38-yard catch and run. Clyde Edwards-Helaire turned in a solid performance rushing for 54, and hauling in 28 receiving yards, his longest being the 29 yards lip screen seen above.

For the first time all year, we saw CEH line up outside and run a route. The motion starts to bring the LB back inside but on the snap, CEH breaks into a bench route with the LB almost being walled off by his own man who was in zone coverage.

Early on in the season the check down as an afterthought, and so was Darrel Williams. This is the second game this season he has led the team in receiving yards, and the Chiefs are even using some designed plays out of the backfield other than screens to get him open.

The Chiefs offense has been horrendously inconsistent this year, but in the last few weeks of this five-game win streak, they have made it an emphasis for Mahomes to be able to take what the defense has given him. It has resulted in a big season for Williams, who earned a $250,000 bonus for amassing over 700 total yards this season, as well as using it effectively with Edwards-Helaire as he comes back from injury.

The Chiefs we have known the last three seasons have only shown up a few times this year, and it has often had more to do with the mistakes of Kansas City than what the opposing team has done. The team does not have a reliable second wide receiver option, Hill and Kelce have led the NFL in dropped passes, all of which have accumulated in Patrick Mahomes facing scrutiny from the national media.

The season is winding down, and the Chiefs will have to fight to make the playoffs, but if they can find a way to continue to feed their running backs they can start to turn the tide of their season.

Despite all these troubles most teams still have to respect the threat of Mahomes, Hill, and Kelce. They are still playing the same cover two defense with two high safeties, and sometimes rotating them into different looks depending on the down and distance. They are dropping linebackers to help the double team or cover the first down marker. This has opened up multiple phases of football for the Chiefs running backs.

It isn’t the Chiefs brand of football, but it is what Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy are going to be forced to do if they want to win, and also send a message to their team. In order to stop the mistakes with the downfield passing game, the best thing they can do is limit what can happen by establishing a running game and getting Mahomes easy passes. Teams don’t respect what the Chiefs’ backs can do in the passing game, but yet again we have seen designed, planned out plays to involve them in the passing game. If this trend can effectively continue and the Chiefs can cut down on mistakes it is going to put teams in a very difficult position come playoff time.