The Kansas City Chiefs essentially entered this off-season with only two running backs on their roster. Damien Williams and Darrel Williams. The former being the primary back. The latter coming on a little bit late in the season during Spencer Ware’s injury, but still unproven.
With that said the Chiefs were going to have to address the position. Whether that be through the draft -which they very well still might do- or during free agency. They hit the free agent market early and secured themselves a gem in Carlos Hyde.
To my surprise, Hyde has never had a 1,000 yard season. That’s with coaches like Chip Kelly and Kyle Shanahan. The most yards he’s ever recorded in a season is 988 yards back in 2016 under Chip Kelly.
As I reviewed Hyde it hit me. Hyde’s best season was under Kelly who did his best to bring a college system to the NFL. Andy Reid is employing college concepts better than anyone could dream of with Patrick Mahomes. Why can’t Hyde recapture that 2016 magic with the Chiefs?
This first play is a simple counter play, but right out of the gate you can see the patience he possesses. An underrated part about Hyde’s game is that he’s a smart runner. You can see as he hits the hole he has space in front of him and could easily just take off and go one-on-one with the defender. Instead he waits for his blocker. Sets his defender up on his outside shoulder before cutting back inside and getting right upfield.
This touchdown was wiped out by a penalty on the Brown, but displays his balance and strength. As soon as he hits the hole he has a defender literally on his back. It didn’t matter as he sheds the defender, keeps his balance and more importantly it doesn’t affect his vision.
As soon as he sheds the tackle he cuts back one more time and gets up field and into the endzone. As a running back the two qualities you need are vision and balance. If you can see the hole or the cut back lane before it opens up then you’ve set yourself up for success. If you can get hit, or in this case have someone jump on your back, and keep you balance you can turn those short three yard gains into 10 to 15 to 20-plus yard runs.
You have to go back all the way to 2016 to find when Hyde was at his best. He’s still only 28 years old and won’t be 29 until after the season starts. Here his is against the Jets in 2016 under Chip Kelly. It’s by far the best game he’s ever had in his career. 17 carries for 193 yards and not a single touchdown because the Niners were 2-14 that year.
When the Chiefs run the ball it feels like more times than not it’s out of shotgun. Runs out of shotgun involve a lot of zone schemes, double teams and wham blocks which mean the running back has to anticipate the lane and when they see it, plant their foot in the ground and go.
Hyde can certainly do that. This play is almost a perfect example of that ability. The right guard does a really good job here of sealing off the backside and creating that running lane. Hyde hits the hole and burns through the second level into the open field.
The Chiefs run schemes require a back that can stick his foot in the ground and go. As shown above Hyde can do just that.
This is by far my favorite run out of the games I reviewed. He shows great vision and oh by the way he can make even the best safeties miss in the open field. What’s better about Hyde making Earl Thomas miss is that the move is precise and he doesn’t lose any speed doing it.
This game is from a week two matchup with the Seahawks in 2017. He ended with 15 carries for 124 yards. Of course he didn’t score a touchdown because it’s the Niners and they only mustard up nine points in that game. He’s shown he’s more than capable of producing against good defenses.
The only thing that you may not end up liking about Hyde is at basically 230 pounds he lacks breakaway speed. There are a handful of long runs -I even showed one in this review- where he gets in the open field but can’t outrun defenders to the end zone. It’s not a red flag per say, but don’t be surprised if he breaks a long run next season and gets chased down by a defender.
The Chiefs identified and jumped on the chance at bringing in Hyde, and by the end of the season we could end up looking back and saying that this is one of the key signings of the off season. With this offense and Hyde’s ability to run the ball who knows he could end up with his first 1,000 yard season.