Pacheco and McKinnon- The Most Unstoppable RB Duo In Football?
Justin Miles (@justm1les)
The Kansas City Chiefs have been one of the best teams in the NFL. Having a great team obviously requires many contributors across the franchise. A couple of crucial pieces for the team who have not gotten the recognition deserved are the running backs. The duo of Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon has been electric for several weeks.
While the Chiefs have several playmakers who play big roles for the team, this running back duo might be the most unstoppable duo in the game.
While Clyde Edwards-Helaire began the season as the starter, Pacheco earned the starting role in week 7. Throughout all of this, McKinnon was a situational-back and saw a fluctuating amount of touches. The three shared limited reps until week 11 against the Chargers when CEH went down with an injury.
At the start of the season, CEH ran the show. However, the Pacheco-McKinnon duo quickly earned a role on the team. In doing so, the duo contributed some great numbers, despite having Edwards-Helaire in the rotation early on.
On the season, rookie Isiah Pacheco has 139 carries for 677 yards and 3 touchdowns. He averages an astounding 4.9 yards per carry. He has also caught 10 passes for 80 yards. The rookie has been a strong, elusive runner and appears to be a star in the making. His aggressive play style has already gained him recognition.
Jerick McKinnon has seen just 63 carries but has taken them for 274 yards and 1 touchdown. His production has come mostly out of the passing game. This season, he has racked up 46 catches for 429 yards and 5 touchdowns. He averages 6.4 yards per touch. McKinnon has seen a large portion of his stats come in the past couple of weeks. In the last two games, he has racked up 31 total touches for 256 yards and 4 touchdowns.
I discussed the importance of McKinnon’s role in an article nearly a month ago. Since then, he has been on an absolute tear.
While Clyde Edward-Helaire’s injury is unfortunate, McKinnon and Pacheco have emerged as an impressive duo.
From their first game without CEH in week 12 to this past game in week 15, the pair has been nearly unguardable. McKinnon and Pacheco have the perfect balance in nearly every category. The mix youth with experience, something all great cores have. While this is Pacheco’s rookie year, it is McKinnon’s 7th season in the league. McKinnon can be a mentor for the young Pacheco. This also can combine energy with a high IQ player.
Arguably the greatest addition of having McKinnon and Pacheco in the same back field is the versatility in play styles.
McKinnon is predominantly a receiving back. However, his pass protection and blocking is also phenomenal. Not to mention, he can carry the ball when needed. He is a great 3rd down back who can make big plays when needed. His phenomenal blocking also throws a wrench in scheming. It is difficult for a defense to predict if he will run a route or drop back in protection.
On the contrary, Pacheco is a dominant, down hill runner. While he has shown he has the ability to catch passes and take them for big gains, he is one of the best true runners in the league. His explosiveness and strong style makes it difficult to bring him down. He too can be a great blocker when needed.
Since the duet took over the backfield amid the absence of CEH, they have tallied impressive numbers.
In the 4 games, Pacheco took 64 carries for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also caught 7 passes for 67 yards.
In the same time frame, McKinnon has shined bright, especially in the pass game. He has caught 20 passes for 217 yards and 4 touchdowns, with a majority coming out of the last couple of games, as mentioned before. In addition, he also has taken 24 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown.
The two have combined to bring life to this Kansas City team. While many other players have played well, the duo has appeared to be the lively hood of the offense recently.
Across the last 4 games, the unit has accounted for 41% of the teams total yards and for 58% of the teams total touchdowns. This shows how important of a role the duo has played.
The mesh of traits is a nightmare for defensive coordinators. Not to mention, teams still have to account for Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and the rest of the offense. All with the most creative head coach in all of football in Andy Reid.
Overall, the duo has been a huge contributor to Kansas City’s recent success. Both players will continue to shine and make plays. As the stats show, they have recently put this offense on their back, even with an MVP candidate at quarterback. They will continue to be great and likely will both be huge factors in the playoffs.
This duo could be a huge part in a deep Super Bowl run. While being a rookie, Isiah Pacheco will be in Kansas City for a while longer. On the flip side, Jerick McKinnon is set to become a free agent this next offseason. In my opinion, Kansas City needs to give the veteran an extension and keep the fantastic duo together for a while longer.
Chief fans should look forward to much more success and production from this duo.