Run-heavy offense the key to a Super Bowl repeat for Kansas City Chiefs

Andy Reid stands on touchline
Can the run game carry the Chiefs to another Super Bowl? Photo from CNBC.

Andy Reid‘s a pragmatist. He saw how teams were beginning to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the explosive Kansas City Chiefs passing game.

Reid responded by shelving the aerial pyrotechnics of Mahomes and the ‘Legion of Zoom.’ Instead, he went with something decidedly more old school to beat the Buffalo Bills 26-17 in Week 6.

The alternative was a run-heavy offense that worked like gangbusters at Orchard Park. In the process, Reid found the key to the Chiefs repeating as Super Bowl champions.

Reid needed to do something after the Las Vegas Raiders went into KC and flummoxed Mahomes a week earlier. The Silver and Black cracked the code of the Chiefs’ offense by rushing three and dropping eight.

It’s what the New England Patriots did in Week 4. The Pats lost, despite making Mahomes look barely above average.

Kansas City needed a new blueprint for victory. Reid responded by giving the keys to the offense to rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire:

A heavy diet of No. 25 exploited a Buffalo defense soft against the run in 2020. Reid was relentless about keeping the ball on the ground.

Edwards-Helaire was assisted by Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson. They added nine carries to his busy workload.


It was uncharted territory for the traditionally pass-first Reid. Yet by the time the game finished he’d set a benchmark that will assist the rest of the Chiefs’ title defense.

The Bills invited this approach by lining up in the same deep coverage shells the Raiders and New England used. It meant keeping a pair of safeties deep and falling back into soft zones.

You could hardly blame Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott for playing it safe. Stretching the field is the Chiefs’ forte.

Reid used Edwards-Helaire to run the Houston Texans out of a similarly cautious defense in Week 1. Yet there’s been precious little of the KC groundhogs since.

The Chiefs played into the Raiders’ gameplan a week ago. They were too content to let Mahomes freelance on the move, but Reid had bigger concerns than protecting his quarterback against the Bills.

He also needed to ease the burden on a defense burned for 40 points in Week 5. It was hardly ideal preparation for facing Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs.

Derek Carr torched the Chiefs’ coverage schemes, and Allen might have done the same if only he could’ve got onto the field. Reid wisely decided Kansas City’s best defense was a ball-control offense:

Forcing Allen into a pass-first mode made the game easier to call for Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Spags sent the blitz after Allen and limited the previously red-hot QB to just 14 completions for 122 yards.

For a rare time, the Chiefs offense complemented the defense. It was throwback football, but highly effective.

Everything stemmed from a running game allowed to thrive because of an awesome offensive line. Journeyman Mike Remmers slotted easily into the lineup and led KC’s dominance of the trenches.

The Chiefs’ mauling of the Bills’ defensive front earned the highest praise from a Hall of Famer:

Reid also supplemented the front with two-tight end sets. Of course, Travis Kelce was the main man at the position, but Nick Keizer, Deon Yelder, and Ricky Seals-Jones combined for 30 snaps, according to Pro Football Reference.

Heavy sets and running won’t be Kansas City’s new offense. But it’s an extra dimension for the most prolific unit in the NFL.

Defenses now have one more thing to worry about. Taking away Hill’s vertical routes leaves room for Kelce underneath.

Filling the slant lanes and deep zones will slow Mahomes down. Yet blanket coverage will also leave defenses undermanned in the box against the run.

Edwards-Helaire and recently acquired Le’Veon Bell give Reid a one-two punch he can unleash in any game. Bell is a more dangerous receiver than a runner, but he’s also another weapon on the ground for a rushing attack becoming as lethal as Mahomes’ passing game.

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