Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
Sep 8, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs loaded for title defense with Clyde Edwards-Helaire

The Kansas City Chiefs are somehow better than they were a year ago.

Yes, the team defending a Super Bowl title is coming into 2020 stronger than it was when holding the Lombardi Trophy atop the podium following its triumph in Miami.

Kansas City general manager Brett Veach spent the first few months of the offseason keeping the team together, only losing corner/safety Kendall Fuller and reserve lineman Cam Erving. Incredibly, those are the only two players who left and played at least 45 percent of their units snaps in 2019.

In the 2020 NFL Draft, Veach then went to work. In the first round, many expected the Chiefs to go defense. In a surprise, Kansas City went with LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The 21-year-old rushed for 1,414 yards last season for the Tigers, helping them win a national championship. However, and more importantly in the eyes of head coach Andy Reid, Edwards-Helaire caught 53 passes and is one of the ore polished route-running backs coming into the pros.

With Edwards-Helaire on the field, opponents now have a decision to make. Will they cheat with an extra safety on the field to combat the youngster’s ability to swing a=out and run routes in space, or will they keep a linebacker on him?

If it’s the former, look for the Chiefs to take advantage of light fronts and run the ball for good chunks early in downs. If it’s the latter, Reid will undoubtedly be motioning Edwards-Helaire all over the formation, creating situations where linebackers are in man coverage outside the numbers against him.

All this means even more zone coverage for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, something they have routinely destroyed during Mahomes’ two years as the starting quarterback. With Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman at receiver, and Travis Kelce the game’s preeminent tight end able to play anywhere in the formation, Reid has an embarrassment of riches.

Now factor in a running back with receiver skills and the game’s new generational talent at quarterback. It’s borderline unfair to defensive coordinators around the league.

Veach undershoot all this when deciding to pass on cornerbacks and edge rushers in the first round. After watching the defense round into form throughout the second half of last season and through the playoffs, the unit needs less help than nationally realized.

Another chess piece on defense would hurt opponents, but a running back who forces more matchup problems — and simultaneously favorable ones of Mahomes? That’s the right call.

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