Tailback Isiah Pacheco Shows Talent and Character When Called Upon

Pacheco rushed for 82 yards on 16 carries in last Sunday’s victory

Kansas City Chiefs' rookie running back Isiah Pacheco appears to be coming into his own after setting two personal bests last week with 82 yards on 16 carries against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Pacheco joined the Chiefs as a seventh-round pick, but he's quickly showing that he belongs.

"I don't think he is ahead of schedule – I think he's right where he should be," said Running Backs Coach Greg Lewis. "To me, I don't look at [a player] as a rookie or as 10-year veteran, the expectation is the expectation. The standard is the standard, and whoever we put out there needs to be at that standard."

Pacheco certainly met that standard on Sunday, leading a Chiefs' rushing attack that collectively averaged a season-best 5.7 yards-per-carry. It was a significant development when considering that in the previous week, Kansas City only ran the ball 20 times. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes instead attempted 68 passes for 340 yards, and while it ultimately led to a victory, the Chiefs emphasized the need to effectively run the ball heading into their matchup with the Jaguars. The script was indeed flipped last Sunday, and Pacheco was a key player in that effort.

"For me, it's about having the same mindset every day when I come into the building to go to work." Pacheco said, "I go out there on the practice field and go 100 percent so that when it comes to game day, I can execute at a high and intense level."

Though Pacheco stepped up when it came to running the ball last week, it wasn't without adversity. Pacheco fumbled on the Chiefs' opening series, but fans watching the game could tell that his early mistake wasn't going to ruin his day.

"When I came back to the sideline, I didn't hold my head down because I had a strong feeling in my heart," Pacheco said. "I was angry enough to go back out there and execute my job at a high level."

The Chiefs' coaching staff often goes right back to players such as Pacheco following early mistakes, and that was exactly their decision on Sunday despite the fumble. In fact, not only did Pacheco take the field on the Chiefs' next possession, but he also handled the first play of the drive for a 13-yard gain.

"For me, I went back in the huddle and was just waiting for my name to get called," Pacheco said. "I was ready to go and locked in."

Pacheco said that he received significant encouragement from his teammate, fellow tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who reminded him that there was plenty of game left and that he needed to keep his head up.

Additionally, Coach Lewis explained that he told Pacheco to forget about the fumble and it was about how he responded from there. Lewis said that he thought Pacheco did a tremendous job with that challenge, and his actions were a testament to his mindset and how he plays the game.

"It's a brotherhood in that running back room," Pacheco said. "We push each other. We have examples of how we could have hit runs better, what we see out there and what they see from the sideline. We're building in this room and there's a lot of football left this season."

Lewis also said that his collection of running backs is a great group and a supportive team of guys, but at the end of the day, only one guy can have the ball at a time.

That was primarily Pacheco last Sunday, whose sense of urgency was exemplified by his four rushes of at least nine yards against Jacksonville. It was an impressive output that the rookie will look to continue this week against Los Angeles.

The Chiefs' offense is ever-changing, and it's clear that Kansas City's primary playmakers can change from week-to-week. The certainty, however, is that whoever is called upon will be ready for the challenge.

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