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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Ed Easton Jr.

Chiefs coaches allowing rookie RB Isiah Pacheco to be himself on the field

The emergence of rookie running back Isiah Pacheco has transformed the Kansas City Chiefs offense. Pacheco has been in the starting lineup since the Chiefs’ Week 7 match-up with the San Francisco 49ers, and his role has increased significantly since Clyde Edwards-Helaire was placed on injured reserve.

Pacheco’s fiery attitude and energetic running style have made him a favorite of fans and the coaching staff. The former Rutgers University team captain has frequently celebrated and shown emotion when finishing big runs. The extracurriculars don’t bother the coaching staff, as offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy explained during Thursday’s press conference.

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“You know what, that’s a part of him, so he’s going to play excited regardless,” said Bieniemy. “So after every time he touched the ball, he has this juice or this energy – and I told you before, I want that same juice after every play call like, ‘Yeah, I just called that play!’ (laughter). You know what I mean? But he’s enjoying it, and you do not want to take that from him because that’s a part of who he is. He loves that. It makes him, it re-energizes him for the next play, but that’s something that Pacheco has within him. And we’re just going to ride with it.”

Pacheco has pushed past the 500-yard rushing mark this season, despite not drawing a start until Week 7.  He has evolved as the season has progressed into a reliable closing option, pounding the ball and working the game clock. Running backs coach Greg Lewis has understood the Andy Reid philosophy of letting players be themselves since his playing days and intends to keep that same approach with Pacheco.

“No, the big thing with Coach Reid and being around him for almost 20 years, for me, is that he allows you to be yourself and let your personality show.” Lewis said, “And Pop (Isiah Pacheco) does a tremendous job of letting his personality show, and you don’t want to take that away from anybody, any player, because then you’re losing who they are as a player, well. So it’s a fine line, but he knows where that line is, and we all understand it. He’s toeing the line, but he’s doing a great job for us.”

The Chiefs are marching to another AFC West division title due in part to Pacheco’s energy. The team’s current reliance on the running game has opened more in the passing game, rounding out the offense as the postseason approaches.

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