J. Moyer shares a pair of plays from Chiefs running back Damien Williams’s portfolio as well as a play that Williams and Christian McCaffrey have both run this year that illustrates why Williams may be productive right now but his process has a lot of inconsistencies.
Possibly the highest-profile offense in the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs lack a high profile running back. Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson have all seen snaps, and none have run away with a featured role.
Week 9 finally offered up a dominant stat line, as Damien Williams pounded out 125 yards on 12 carries while breaking off a 91-yard touchdown run. Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy followed up a week eight post-fumble benching with three carries, all in the first quarter, and was on the sideline for all but nine snaps.
So despite professing his commitment to “riding the hot hand,” we have good evidence Andy Reid is strongly favoring the hand called “Damien.”
Many teams will favor the faster, younger back on a longer contract, but Reid describing Damien Williams’ rushing performance leading up to his 91-yard scamper (through a large hole and past a tripping safety) as anything above room temperature is a reach. On his other 11 carries, he averaged 3.1 yards per carry while demonstrating characteristic flaws executing basic run schemes.
Specifically, Williams displays below-average scheme awareness and post-snap processing, which lead to meltdowns when facing penetrating defenders who present themselves more quickly than expected.
Damien Williams’s issues processing the chaos inside the tackle box also manifest in play far below his timed speed. A hallmark of his game is getting his weight back on his heels and stuttering his feet, stripping away any and all forward momentum.
An adaptation developed to buy time to make reads, the result is missed opportunities. On this “Power” run out of the gun, Williams stops his forward motion twice in the backfield, creating 5-6 yards of separation between himself and his pulling blockers, where there should only be 2-3. The result is a wasted crease, the likes of which more refined backs like Christian McCaffrey routinely capitalize upon.
Reid only has to look to LeSean McCoy to find a more refined runner, as previously illustrated in this space. McCoy is more likely to get what is there, and even a little more, on any given run play.
Giving Williams less burden as a traditional runner would then free him up to focus on what he does best; create in the open field as a receiving and perimeter player. We have seen excellent coaches like Sean Payton and Bill Belichick adapt schemes and roles to capitalize on players’ strengths and put them in a position to succeed. Reid’s offense would benefit from a similar approach at running back.
Previous Running Back Rooms
LeSean McCoy And Miles Sanders: What is Vision?
Dalvin Cook, David Montgomery, Peyton Barber, and Kalen Ballage: Footwork Efficiency and Scheme Awareness
Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman: Yards Before Contact
David Johnson And Frank Gore: Pressing the Line of Scrimmage
Dalvin Cook: Efficiency, Control, and Micro-Movements
Chase Edmonds and LeSean McCoy: The Second Reaction
Kenyan Drake And Latavius Murray: Talent-Scheme Fit
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