The Kansas City Chiefs are 2-0 but they didn’t play the cleanest of games against the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football.
There were near-interceptions, failed possessions, pass interference penalties, quarterback pressures allowed, and more. The response from most supporters might be a win is a win and you’d be right, but considering the Chiefs have been the class of the league for the past four years, some expect excellence.
One strong critique came in from former offensive tackle Geoff Schwartz, older brother of Mitchell Schwartz, who started seven games for Kansas City in 2013.
Geoff Schwartz Calls out Chiefs Running Backs on Twitter
Schwartz has become quite successful as an analyst since retiring from the league. He currently works with Fox Sports and SiriusXM NFL. The former O-lineman also has a podcast called “Geoff Schwartz Is Smarter Than You.”
On September 16, the Friday after the Chiefs’ TNF victory over the Chargers, Schwartz took to Twitter to blast the KC running back room.
“The Chiefs OL had some individual breakdowns last night. A few mental errors,” he voiced. “But I thought they held up well in pass pro. Scheme helped as well. Run blocking was good. Backs leave so many yards on the field. It’s frustrating. This has to be a touchdown.”
Schwartz included a video of running back Jerick McKinnon taking a shotgun handoff from the three-yard line. The veteran ball carrier does hit the hole but takes his time doing so. In the end, he’s stopped just short of the end zone. The Chiefs settled for a field goal on this possession.
Fans chimed in on Schwartz’s criticism. One wrote: “Why was this not a TD [though]? To me it just seems like a small [RB] getting arm tackled, a bigger RB or more compact RB makes this a TD no? The hole was there the DL just had an arm out that slowed the RB too much being a sub 200lb player.”
Schwartz responded to this comment, noting that “running backs are paid to break arm tackles.” He added: “This is a big enough running lane.”
Another replied: “I was annoyed that play was called for McKinnon and not [Isiah] Pacheco or Clyde [Edwards-Helaire].”
“That was a 1st and Goal,” a third fan questioned, “why the Seattle play call on 2nd and goal? Run it again!”
Finally, someone asked Schwartz whether he thought inactive power back Ronald Jones II should have been out there for moments like this. “Do you think rojo should’ve played?” The fan began. “I just think the chargers could’ve been pushed with more of a power run game sprinkled in. I was just surprised he was a healthy scratch. It would’ve even helped the tackles by making the end respect the run and not just rush.”
Clyde Edwards-Helaire Leads RB Room Through 2 Weeks
The Chiefs have made it clear that they would like to establish a rushing attack in 2022. Through two weeks though, the results have been mixed and unspectacular — outside of a 52-yard back-breaker from Edwards-Helaire against the Chargers.
If you subtract that 52-yard run from the total, Kansas City running backs have gained 172 yards off 37 carries in two games. That’s a 4.65-clip — which isn’t bad — and 86 yards per game. With the long gainer, it’s 112 yards per game with 5.89 yards per carry.
Having said all of that, can this rushing attack still get better? The answer appears to be trending toward yes, for a few reasons.
One, the Chiefs could begin running the ball more. Edwards-Helaire is off to an impressive start and yet he’s only received 15 hand-offs. Pacheco is just behind him with 14, followed by McKinnon’s eight and fullback Michael Burton’s lone carry for six yards. Jones has yet to dress for a game.
Two, this group should improve as the year progresses. Pacheco is a rookie that’s still getting acclimated to the NFL level and most offensive lines usually take a few weeks to gel. The Chiefs OL unit has plenty of experience blocking together in 2021 but things should only trend up as long as everyone remains healthy.
Three, Jones could become the ace in the hole. After nearly missing the cut, “RoJo” made the 53-man roster as the fourth halfback. So far, he’s spent the first two games watching his teammates. You do expect the former Super Bowl champion to get called on at some point, however, and when he does he’ll have fresh legs.