It’s not just Clyde

Listen, I give Clyde Edwards-Helaire as much stick as the next guy. You can go back to the middle of his rookie season and listen to our podcast, you’ll hear me questioning if he’s actually a good running back. For the record, I think he has skills that can be used, but the coaching staff aren’t putting him in positions to be successful very often.

However, the running game this year just doesn’t seem to be working and it’s not just Clyde. So, let’s compare last year to this and see what’s changed. We’re going to look at Success Rate as a measure of what’s changed.

Success rate is an advanced metric in football that measures efficiency, but with the important context of down and distance considered.


A play is defined as successful if:
It gains at least 50% of the yards required to move the chains on first down
70% of yards to gain on second down
100% of yards to gain on third or fourth down

What’s changed in running play success rate between last year and this…

20212022
Rush DirectionSuccess RateYPCRush DirectionSuccess RateYPC
End50%5.39End41%5.52
Tackle44%4.82Tackle45%4.04
Guard47%4.51Guard36%3.88
Center55%4.81Center48%4.07
Left47%5.34Left40%4.59
Middle56%4.99Middle50%4.24
Right49%4.68Right40%4.89

What’s changed? Well, everything is worse. The Success Rate of running in any direction, behind whichever O Line position you care to mention is worse this year than last. Anything over 50% is considered good, anything less than 40% is bad. Interestingly, the rate of drop off is pretty consistent at between 7% and 9%, except for running off Tackle which is about the same as last year.

Yards Per Carry are down across the board too. So is it just one Running Back that’s dragging things down or is there a problem across the whole group which would lead me to blame the Line more than the Backs?

20212022
RusherSuccess RateYPC8 in the BoxRusherSuccess RateYPC8 in the Box
Edwards-Helaire42%4.648%Edwards-Helaire39%4.3314%
McKinnon43%4.61McKinnon26%3.96
Williams47%3.8813%Pacheco48%4.8148%

This is where it gets interesting.

Firstly, McKinnon is a shadow of what he was last season. His success rate has tanked, as has his YPC. It’s even worse when you think that his stats are being propped up by a 30 yard run against the Raiders. Without that he’s had 26 carries for 77 yards this season.

Secondly, Edwards-Helaire has declined a bit, but not a huge amount. His Success Rate has dropped below 40% which is bad and his YPC has dropped slightly, but he’s been facing 8 defenders in the box on a slightly higher percentage of snaps so to me that could account for the slight drop off. He is also being propped up by one good run, a 52 yarder that iced the game against Chargers.

That brings me to the bright spot in this. Isiah Pacheco has a better Success Rate and YPC than either McKinnon or Edwards-Helaire and he’s done this facing 8 men in the box on a staggering 48% of his carries. Think what he could do when teams aren’t loading the box against him! At this stage there is nothing to lose by making him the lead back. Andy Reid has said they will ride whoever has the hot hand, well those hands have been freezing this season apart from Pacheco. Give him a chance, it can’t go much worse than the others.

One other thing of note that isn’t covered here. The most effective rushers last year for the Chiefs? Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. 24 carries, mostly on jet sweeps, at an average of just over 8 YPC. How many jet sweeps have we run this season? 2. For a total of 3 yards. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a Skyy Moore shaped hole in the run game waiting to be filled?

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