Kansas City Chiefs

How Chiefs RB Jerick McKinnon has reemerged as an offensive playmaker

Kansas City Chiefs RB Jerick McKinnon finished Sunday’s win over the Denver Broncos with 134 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. It was his best single-game performance since Week 15 of the 2017 NFL season against the Cincinnati Bengals when McKinnon was still a member of the Minnesota Vikings. He recorded 138 scrimmage yards on 16 touches that day, but he didn’t get into the endzone.

McKinnon has since persevered through some turbulent times, with injuries keeping him off the field in 2018 and 2019 with the San Francisco 49ers. Still, the 5-foot-9 running back kept at it and now he’s reaping the benefits.

“Well, you said it best, he’s like a dinosaur at that position,” Chiefs HC Andy Reid said. “You’re playing nine years in the National Football League. As a running back, those are dog years. So, he keeps himself in great shape. He’s very smart. He’s pounded through the injuries that he’s had and really, the last couple of years here with us, he’s come out in a very positive way and shape for our team. ”

The now 30-year-old running back first found a home in Kansas City in 2021. The first 10 weeks of the season weren’t the most productive for McKinnon. He recorded just seven carries for 38 yards and 10 receptions on 15 targets for 81 yards in that span. When injuries derailed the running back position ahead of the playoffs, it was McKinnon who stepped up into a starting role for the team. In Week 18, he stepped in for an injured Clyde Edwards-Helaire and had his big break.

This season, McKinnon is following a similar path. The Chiefs re-signed him because they thought he still had “juice” left. It took him some time to get reacclimated in Kansas City this year. He first received work as a third-down back, but over the past two weeks, he seems to be taking a larger role alongside rookie RB Isiah Pacheco.

“From a playing standpoint there’s nothing that he can’t do,” Reid said of McKinnon. “He does everything so well. He’s got the good hands, he can run well, he can run inside, outside, he’s a good blocker, picks up blitzes — the whole thing there.”

McKinnon’s versatility allows him to plug in and have success in a variety of different roles for the Chiefs. Whether that’s catching improvised passes from Patrick Mahomes or picking up blitzes in the passing game, he’s playing a pivotal part in the success of the offense.

There’s also the fact that he’s seen a lot of football in his nine years in the league. His ability to call on that experience and be a leader for the running back room shouldn’t be overlooked either.

“I think if you talk to the players, they’ll talk about the leadership, how much they appreciate him,” Reid said of McKinnon. “The young guys will talk about — like (Isiah) Pacheco — how much he’s taught them — or Clyde (Edwards-Helaire), how much he’s taught him. He’s just a good guy to have around on your football team from a locker room standpoint.”

Chiefs Wire USA Today