After two weeks of the NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs are 2-0. We know the big names, but some pleasant surprises have helped them get to 2-0.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire Has Finally Arrived For The Chiefs’ Offense
Any talk of early season surprises for the Chiefs has to start with running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. After a rough first two seasons in the league, Chiefs Kingdom voices have been loud against CEH. A great preseason by Isiah Pacheco only made those voices louder heading into the 2022 regular season. While fans still wait to see if CEH can stay healthy, he has silenced a lot of those critical voices through two weeks.
Against the Arizona Cardinals in Week One, CEH touched the ball 10 times for 74 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs clearly wanted to get CEH more involved in the passing game than in previous years and did that with three targets. His two touchdowns came through the air as Andy Reid designed plays specifically to get CEH in space.
On the ground, he looked healthy and aggressive for the first time in a long time. He ran the ball seven times for 42 yards, averaging six yards per carry. The stats aren’t eye-popping, but it’s only because the Chiefs had such a big lead that Andy got McKinnon and Pacheco playing time in the second half. CEH ran hard, made good cuts, and finished runs off.
Some may have thought week one was a fluke, but week two proved otherwise. Against the Los Angeles Chargers, he had 12 touches for 108 yards. It was a hard first three quarters for the Chiefs and CEH. He had some good plays but it was rough sledding for the entire Chiefs offense. But he was a key part in the offense getting going in the fourth quarter.
He had a great screen pass reception early in the fourth quarter. The play design was perfect and CEH made a good catch and finished the run hard not shying away from Derwin James. It wasn’t perfect, the replay showed it could have been a much bigger gain if CEH had cut inside and gotten behind his blockers. But he made the play and got the first down.
He then iced the game with his legs. He took the ball off tackle to the right send and rumbled for 52 yards. It was obvious he remembered losing the Baltimore Ravens game last season with a late fumble as he ran with the ball buried under two heads for 30 yards. He shrugged off James pulling his facemask and made the smart football decision to slide down at the end of the play to keep the clock running. It put the Chiefs in easy field goal range that put the game on ice.
I still wouldn’t call CEH a fan favorite, but it is undeniable that he has been a big part of the Chiefs’ 2-0 start to the season. If his surprise good games can continue, the Chiefs will be hard for anyone to beat.
The other big surprise for me has been the play of the Chiefs’ secondary. I thought the secondary would be good, but I thought they might struggle for the first half of the season. Steve Spagnuolo’s defense is notoriously complicated and takes a while to get fully comfortable with. Yet a secondary with four rookies, three of whom have played significant snaps, has looked very comfortable.
Trent McDuffie was the Chiefs’ first pick in the 2022 draft and had a great first game against the Cardinals. He faced zero targets during his 20+ pass play snaps. Unfortunately, he injured his knee in the fourth quarter and is on IR for the next four weeks. But the loss of McDuffie was made up for by the other youngsters on the team.
Jaylen Watson got picked on in the first half against the Chargers. But the Chiefs adjusted their game plan and shut the Chargers down in the second half. He then made the play of the season with a 99-yard interception return for the game-winning touchdown. Not a bad first start for a rookie seventh-round draft pick.
Fellow rookie Joshua Williams has also played well, and the old veteran L’Jarius Sneed has been his usual steady self. Free agent pick-up Justin Reid has been a misle flying around the field. He has brought the youth, speed, and aggression to the position that was missing from the Chiefs last season. He’s had multiple big pass breakups and a number of big hits and sure tackles that were missed in 2021. Next to him, Juan Thornhill has looked like the future star we all saw during his 2019 rookie season. Like Reid, he’s been all over the field knocking down passes and knocking runners off their feet.
The defense has been great through two weeks, and with Spag’s defense, they are only going to get better each week. If CEH can stay healthy, Andy is going to keep getting him the ball more and more. By the end of the season, these two early season surprises could prove to be two of the biggest reasons why the Chiefs win their second Super Bowl in four seasons.