Chiefs Rookie ‘Poised for Second-Half Breakout,’ Says Ex-NFL All-Pro

Isiah Pacheco

Getty Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco during the 2022 preseason.

There has been a ton of discussion about the Kansas City Chiefs run game this week after quarterback Patrick Mahomes II was forced to throw 68 passing attempts during the victory over the Tennessee Titans.

The Chiefs’ rushing attack only mustered 77 yards last week, and 63 of them were a product of Mahomes scrambling with the football. The combination of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon managed 14 yards rushing on 12 attempts — a pathetic total.

On the season, the ground game has only surpassed the 100-yard mark four times, with one effort topping 150 yards at 189 (vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Having said that, you wouldn’t expect many to have faith in a Chiefs running back right now but that’s exactly what Maurice Jones-Drew did during a recent prediction.

Former All-Pro Names Chiefs’ Isiah Pacheco in RB Feature

The column from the ex-Jacksonville Jaguars star RB highlighted several running backs that the former All-Pro believes are poised for a second-half breakout in 2022. Kansas City rookie Isiah Pacheco made the list.

“Patrick Mahomes threw the ball 68 times in Sunday night’s overtime win vs. Tennessee,” Jones-Drew began. “I know the star quarterback was the main reason the Chiefs were able to come back and win that game, but 68 pass attempts — tied for the third-most by any QB since 1950 — is way too many.”

“Now, the Chiefs won’t face a game-wrecking nose tackle like the Titans’ Jeffery Simmons every week,” he continued. “Going forward, they must find balance in their offense. Pacheco could be the solution. The seventh-round rookie — who’s played nearly as many snaps on special teams (85) as offense (96) — has shown he can be successful as a rusher, averaging 4.5 yards per carry on 44 attempts this season.”

Pacheco has definitely shown flashes, but it’s been hard to get an accurate reading on the rookie’s progress considering his low number of opportunities on a weekly basis. Running back rotations have been known to work around the NFL but they become less effective when you barely hand the ball off.

If the Chiefs cut the committee down to two ball carriers, however, which two should they choose? Jones-Drew is hitching his wagon to Pacheco.

“Though he’s still splitting snaps with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon, Pacheco took a bigger role as the starter in Week 7, when he logged eight carries for 43 yards in the blowout of San Francisco,” MJD concluded. “He’s only going to get more comfortable with more opportunities, which could have Kansas City fielding a more balanced unit come playoff time.”

‘Let’s Argue’ Take Disagrees With Jones-Drew

Arrowhead Pride contributor Mark Gunnels was back with another edition of “Let’s Argue,” a weekly piece that challenges KC fans to comment their most “unpopular Chiefs opinion.”

One fan did just that, voicing that “the Chiefs need to stick with CEH and McKinnon as their running backs,” in effect benching Pacheco.

“I understand the sentiment of putting Pacheco on ice,” Gunnels responded. “Let’s face it: the Chiefs are in win-now mode, which means they don’t have time to develop.”

“In a perfect world, you’d want to have your young guys produce while developing at the same time,” he continued. “With that being said, I’m not willing to put Pacheco in the doghouse right now. His running style brings a completely different element than Edwards-Helaire and McKinnon. There are still nine games left, plus the playoffs.”

Of course, the forgotten option is Ronald Jones. The veteran is a tough big-play threat, more similar to Pacheco than CEH or McKinnon.

If the rookie keeps struggling, you could eventually see Jones take over his role down the stretch but that would mean finding a new kick returner or dressing four running backs. In the meantime, McKinnon is currently questionable for Week 10 and it’ll be interesting to see if Jones or practice squad option Wayne Gallman see any snaps in the event that he ends up missing the contest.

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