Clyde Edwards-Helaire must step up for the Kansas City Chiefs
To clarify, I am not going to completely clear Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s name here. You can not fumble the ball there. CEH cost the Chiefs that game, period.
Yes, the defense was not great. Yes, Mahomes arguably had the worst interception of his career that shifted the entire momentum of the game. Yes, the Chiefs’ offense stalled at the worst times. However, the reality of the situation is that the Chiefs can run the clock to under thirty seconds remaining, kick a field goal, and very likely win the game if Clyde holds onto that ball. ESPN gave the Chiefs about a 65% chance to win before that ball snapped.
However, one bad play does not make a player. Was it a poorly timed mistake, yes, but it is not the entirety of CEH’s career.
CEH has not been elite thus far in his career, but he also just played his eighteenth NFL game in probably the most complex offense in football.
In eighteen games, Clyde has had a revolving door of linemen in front of him. He has not been able to score much because the Chiefs offensively crumbled in the red zone in 2020. In 2021, he looks to be getting better, but that is being overshadowed by how good the rest of the offense is.
Fans will often discount his contributions to the passing game, but he is actually averaging 8.4 yards per catch. He is not getting as many targets as he should be, but that is a playcalling (and Patrick Mahomes having no time in the pocket in 2020) issue. The Chiefs also have some of the best down-the-field targets in NFL history in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, which does limit targets for everyone else.
Also, Edwards-Helaire was not having a bad game before that snap.
Sure, 3.5 yards per carry does look bad when his 46 yards on 13 carries is looked at straight up, but not all carries are alike. 10 of Clyde’s 13 carries came on first down, where he averaged 4.2 yards per carry. Getting the Chiefs to second and five or six opens up the entire playbook, which is exactly what Clyde was able to do consistently.
Finally, and most importantly, is that that was Edwards-Helaire’s first NFL fumble. Was it at an inopportune time? Yes. Does this excuse it? No. But should it end his career?