Lined up alongside Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy took a handoff on a shotgun play designed to flood the left side against the Oakland Raiders’ defense. A cutback move before the line of scrimmage propelled him toward opposite direction, and it proved effective, with McCoy finishing six yards past the line of scrimmage.
If the play seems inconsequential, well, it was.
Except for this: That six-yard carry Sunday remained the Chiefs’ longest run of the afternoon after a 28-10 win in Oakland.
As a whole, the run game accounted for only 31 yards. The passing game topped 400.
The adage of running the ball and stopping the run being the keys to football is long outdated. But will the Chiefs prioritize a better blend?
Not really, anyway. Sure, they’d like the rushing attack to be more effective. To rush for more than the 1.4 yards per carry
But with Mahomes, what’s the, well, rush? And if a defense is designed to stop the run, the Chiefs are going to pass.
“When the defense is doing that, it’s hard for them to (focus on) everything,” coach Andy Reid said. “If they’re going to do that, then we’re going to do this. We don’t fight that. We’re not going to bang our head up against the wall on that. The trick is trying to find what’s going to work — run, pass, whatever it is.”
Wasn’t much of a trick in Oakland. Mahomes completed 30 of 44 passes (68 percent) for 443 yards. The Chiefs generated 9.5 yards per play when Mahomes dropped back, accounting for a pair of sacks.
The 22 running plays generated all of 31 total yards, just 1.4 per play.
“We don’t get caught up in the numbers (of passing versus rushing plays),” Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. “Yeah, we didn’t execute as well as we would’ve liked, but ... as I like to say, we found a way to drag our ass across the finish line.”
The Chiefs are unsure yet who they will have available in the backfield Sunday, when they play host to the Baltimore Ravens in their home opener. Starter Damien Williams missed practice against Thursday with a bone bruise on his knee. After not practicing Wednesday, LeSean McCoy was a limited participant Thursday.
Regardless of who is back there, the blocking can be better, particularly on the left side, though tackle Eric Fisher will miss considerable time after core muscle surgery. The Chiefs were good in pass protection last week, less effective in creating avenues for the running backs.
“When it’s all said and done, we’ll fix it,” Bieniemy said. “We will fix it.”
On Sunday, even as the Chiefs burned the Raiders deep multiple times in the second quarter, they displayed an alternative to a stagnant rushing attack.
Short routes on the outside.
They’re effective against a team stacking the box in the middle of the field, and they still keep defensive ends from flying off the edges, prepared to take a shot at Mahomes.
“There will be weeks when the run game is there to go to, and the pass game is what’s kind of stalling out on the field a little bit,” Mahomes said. “When you have guys at every single position, you pick what they’re trying to stop and just go with what they’re not.”