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Chiefs running the ball with much less success in 2019

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Andy Reid has the reputation for having offensive teams that throw the ball a lot — even recklessly at times — but the numbers since he joined the Kansas City Chiefs show them to be more balanced than that.

The Chiefs were in the top 10 in rushing four times in Reid’s first six seasons and in the top half of the league in the other two. That includes 2018, when Patrick Mahomes was the NFL’s MVP and became only the second quarterback to throw for 50 touchdowns and more than 5,000 yards in a season.

This season, Reid is guilty as charged. The Chiefs are 27th in the league in rushing and are at a rushing deficit of 62 yards per game compared to their opponents.

The Chiefs said they will look to improve those numbers starting with Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Arrowhead Stadium (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

“You want more,” running backs coach Deland McCullough said. “But our attitude and preparation is what you want it to be coming into the game. We want to numerically have some things jump off the sheet but within this building we feel real strong about the way guys are preparing, their attitude about preparing and our plan coming into the game for running the ball. We want to make the numbers reflect that preparation.”

The Chiefs haven’t been very good when they’ve tried to run this season. They’re averaging a mediocre 3.9 yards per carry.

But they haven’t made much of a commitment to running, even early in the season when Mahomes was in their lineup and they usually had big leads.

Late last season the Chiefs released featured back Kareem Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing as a rookie in 2017, but they didn’t miss him then. The Chiefs averaged 116 rushing yards before releasing Hunt and 116 yards after.

They’re rushing for 83 yards per game this season.

The Chiefs figured to turn more to their running game against the Green Bay Packers last week in their first game without the injured Mahomes. But even with Matt Moore making his first start in two years and the Chiefs never more than one score behind from early in the second quarter on, the offense still dropped back to pass almost twice as much as it ran the ball.

The Chiefs base most of their ground game off run-pass options, leading the league in RPOs and rushing attempts off such plays, according to Pro Football Focus.

In theory, that should help the Chiefs be able to run the ball.

“I feel like all those run-pass options open up a lot of running lanes,” backup running back Darwin Thompson said. “That’s why this offense is so productive. I definitely believe it’s easier for the running backs.”

It hasn’t worked out that way for the Chiefs this season except when LeSean McCoy is their back. McCoy is averaging a healthy 5.2 yards per carry, a yard per carry more than Darrel Williams and more than twice the average for their other two backs, Thompson and Damien Williams, who has averaged a disappointing 2.1 yards per carry after entering the year as the starter.

The Chiefs have limited McCoy’s work for a variety of reasons. Some of it is in deference to his age, 31, which is advanced for a back. Coach Andy Reid indicated earlier this year McCoy was still learning his assignments in pass protection.

McCoy was benched for the latter part of the Packers’ game after losing a fumble for the second time in four games. Both plays came at crucial junctures of one-score defeats.

McCoy tends to carry the ball in a less-than-secure manner away from his body, though that was a problem on only one of the fumbles.

“It drives every running back coach crazy in the country, not just here in this building,” offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said of McCoy’s ball-carrying style.

McCoy hasn’t been much of a fumbler over his career. He’s fumbled 24 times in 2,909 career touches, or once for every 121 times.

“I’ve just got to put more focus into it,” he said. “I just got caught. I’ll fix that. It’s never been a part of my game. I’ll be more conscious of it, emphasize it more.”

via ESPN

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