KC Chiefs: Running game less than stellar in preseason opener

Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The KC Chiefs fell to the San Francisco 49ers in their first preseason game of 2017, but one of the biggest fails for the Chiefs was their running game. The running attack only generated 31 yards off of 14 carries.

The Kansas City Chiefs have always had the reputation of being a “run heavy” offense. Last season showed that that narrative might be changing, however, as Spencer Ware wore down near the end of the season and Charcandrick West barely contributed to the offense.

Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, the Chiefs knew they’d need a rookie running back to add to their team, as Jamaal Charles had been cut and Ware and West were showing signs of slowing down.

If the KC Chiefs want to be contenders this year, then they have to get their run game going.

Fortunately, Kansas City traded up to draft Toledo running back Kareem Hunt, which really excited Chiefs Kingdom. Hunt put up 4,945 rushing yards over four seasons with the Toledo Rockets and if he can replicate that success at the professional level, everyone in the Kingdom will be quite ecstatic with those results.

On Friday evening, Chiefs fans saw the lack of a rushing attack against the 49ers and it was not pretty. The running backs only mustered up 31 yards off of 14 carries, and ten of those yards came from an Alex Smith run on the first series of the game. When the quarterback leads the offense in rushing, that’s concerning, especially since Smith wasn’t much of a runner last year (though I think we can all agree that Smith is at his best when he takes off with the football).

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The four main running backs competing for spots on the roster this preseason are Hunt, Ware, West, and C.J. Spiller, who was brought in this offseason. Ware did have a rushing touchdown on the night, which put him as the second most impressive guy in the bunch, but his six yards off of four carries isn’t exactly eye popping.

Hunt had a good night on special teams, and honestly, we all know he’s making the team no matter what. He probably won’t start right away, but I do see Hunt eventually becoming the starting running back for the Kansas City Chiefs at some point this season.

West offered next to nothing in Friday’s preseason opener. He had five carries for six yards and has looked flat over the last year and a half. Perhaps West was a one-hit wonder, rushing for 634 yards and four touchdowns in 2015 to go along with 214 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown. His 2016 campaign was bleak with less than 300 yards rushing and just three total touchdowns on the year.

It’s safe to say that West is desperately fighting for a spot on this team if he doesn’t start to show something soon. Obviously we want him to figure out what’s ailing him, but at the same time, he’s definitely expendable if things aren’t working out.

If the KC Chiefs want to be contenders this year, then they have to get their run game going. Ware needs to get back to being that brooding runner he was in 2015 and the early part of 2016, and hopefully Hunt can step up and become the running back of the future for the Chiefs. Otherwise, it could be a long season in Kansas City.