With one game to go before their farewell week, the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t wait for the extended break to change their starting lineup.
On Sunday morning, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport broke the news that the Chiefs plan to start on Sunday afternoon with rookie taking Isiah Pacheco back against the San Francisco 49ers. Rapoport reports that Pacheco has been taking first-team reps into training all week.
This move could be a way to kick-start the Chiefs’ running game – which has been too bland at times this season. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the first time this season, averaging 4.3 yards per rush; veteran Jerick McKinnon averages a flat 4 yards per carry.
In a smaller sample size than Edwards-Helaire, Pacheco averages 4.8 yards per carry — but there’s more to it than just the raw numbers.
Outside of the Week 1 knockout time, the most opportunity Pacheco has seen this season came in the Week 4 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He changed 11 carries in 63 yards; seven of those attempts got at least six yards. What was unique about that game was how often it seemed like Kansas City got that chunk of runs that started below the middle.
61% of Pacheco’s wearers this season come from a below-center formation. By comparison, 29% of Edwards-Helaire’s carriers are from below mid-range — and a similar percentage applies to McKinnon’s attempts.
This would lead me to believe that the Chiefs took this step to run more of these traditional center run schemes, power runs that ask the attacking linemen to fire and chase defenders away from a hole – or round. pull to shoot a linebacker into space.
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Edwards-Helaire is probably at his best when they let him go downhill on these runs, but his blast and straight-line speed still don’t match what Pacheco – who ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash last off-season on the NFL Combine – can bring to the table. The gap runs are designed to blow open a specific gap, and Pacheco could maximize yards gained on that game more than Edwards-Helaire.
Even if they stick to their basic runs such as inner and outer zone, Pacheco’s ability to slow down and go downhill can benefit from too quick a defense; Edwards-Helaire just doesn’t have that same blast to the austerity track.
Additionally, giving Pacheco the starting role can give him the benefits of lightboxes Edwards-Helaire and McKinnon see from opposing defenses. When Pacheco has been inside, defenses have responded more often with eight-man boxes – knowing Kansas City wants to run with him.
If he’s just part of the regular game plan, they either can’t rely on staying in those eight-man boxes – or they will, allowing the Chiefs’ pass offensive to take advantage.
it comes down to
Pacheco earning the start doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to play a vast majority of snaps. In my opinion this means he will be the first on the field to have a chance to establish a rhythm – but if the game script doesn’t go as planned they may still have to lean on the receiving abilities of the other two backs .
What the move does indicate is the offense of the Chiefs, knowing they need more of the ground game and trusting that Pacheco’s individual talent is the best way to maximize their run schedules. It will be a tough first test with a solid 49ers defense, but the coaches are clearly ready to try something new.