Just like we did last week, I threw five questions to the enemy to learn a bit more about the Chargers’ opponent in Week 2.
A big thank you to Tom Childs over at Arrowhead Pride, SB Nation’s Kansas City Chiefs site, for answering my questions.
Let’s get to it.
1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is one game into his NFL career and he has already looked like one of the best running backs in the NFL. What makes him such a perfect fit in the Chiefs offense?
We’ve seen what Andy Reid can achieve with good but not great running backs in the past - Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware and even Damien Williams have all produced in Reid’s system but to a man, they have all had flaws in their games. Based on what we’ve seen in his college tape and what we have seen so far in the pros, Clyde Edwards-Helaire not only has far less holes in his game but he also possesses elite traits. Vision is an often overlooked part of a running backs game – CEH has that; the ability to cut on a dime – CEH has that; the hands and the route running to be a major factor in the passing game – CEH has that. I think what I’m trying to get at is that Edwards-Helaire is probably the most talented running back Andy Reid has had to work with since Jamaal Charles - and we all know how that played out.
2. The Chargers limited Patrick Mahomes to less than 200 passing yards twice last season, something that only happened three times total in 2019. Why do you think the Bolts’ defense was able to accomplish this rare feat last year?
It would be easy to sit here and put it down to familiarity but I think the answer is probably far more complex than that. Firstly, there is a reason the Chargers are always seen as a potential dark-horse and that’s the personnel on defense. Generally the Chargers defense matches up well man-for-man with the Chiefs offense. Secondly, even without Derwin James, the Chargers cover 3 defense has forced the Chiefs and more specifically Patrick Mahomes to show even more patience than usual. The 49ers had similar success with that scheme in the Super Bowl – that was until the Chiefs had time to run wasp. Despite the success of the Chargers pass defense last year, it must be added that despite the fact the Chiefs didn’t do their usual amount of damage through the air, the Chiefs did average 146 rushing yards per game against the Chargers - a figure that was 45 yards a game above their 2019 average.
3. The Chiefs defense, while not having any household names at linebacker, seem to play extremely disruptive defense nonetheless. What can the Chargers expect to see while on offense this Sunday?
It starts with a pair of tandems – one of up front and one in the secondary. Chris Jones and Frank Clark when healthy are as good as any lineman pairing in the NFL. We all know what Chris Jones offers in terms of sacks and pressures, and whilst the stats might not show it, Frank Clark has been excellent since he has finally got over his lingering injuries.
With the as for mentioned pair creating havoc up front, it is the range and savvy of the Chiefs safeties that have made the real difference to the Chiefs pass defense. The level of which Tyrann Mathieu in particular has been playing at over the last 10 or so games has been outstanding. The Chargers saw this themselves last year, especially during their week 17 matchup when Mathieu come down with an interception he probably had no right to. His running mate isn’t too bad either. Juan Thornhill’s range at free safety has allowed the Chiefs corners to play a little more aggressive at the line. A tactic when paired with a veracious pass rush will make up for holes in other areas of the defense, including at linebacker.
4. How would you describe Kansas City’s high-powered offense? What makes Andy Reid one of the best play-callers in the NFL?
With the addition of Clyde Edwards-Helaire it really is a do-it-all offense now. You can double Tyreek Hill, ok fine Travis Kelce will beat you. You’ve doubled him too! Let’s get Sammy Watkins involved. Wait, you’ve managed to smother all of the Chiefs receivers with different coverages? Fine then, we’ll give the rock to our rookie running back and let him run against a 6 man box. It doesn’t matter where you look on this Chiefs offense there is vast amounts of talent and speed. There’s a reason they’re referred to as the ‘Legion of Zoom’.
The beauty of the Chiefs offense isn’t just the obvious talent, it’s the method behind the madness. Care not about what defensive coordinators attempt, Andy Reid always seems to be one step ahead. No coach uses deception and window dressing quite like Reid. He has defenders thinking before the snap, which in itself is a recipe for disaster.
5. If you were the Chargers, what would be your game plan against the Chiefs?
Now there’s the million dollar question. The simple answer would be pick your poison when on defense and then to fight fire with fire on offense. Normally I would highly recommend that the Chiefs opposition doesn’t even bother including their punter in the game day squad, but given the Chargers relative success against Patrick Mahomes recently, then maybe Anthony Lynn doesn’t need to go to such extremes. However, the more aggressive the Chargers are on both sides of the ball, the more chance they’ll have of winning this game, although I personally do not see it happening.