Ethan Belshe | @The_Belshe
To say that Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt is off to a hot start is a bit of an understatement. It’d be more accurate to say that he’s setting the league on fire.
Through four games the running back out of Toledo leads the NFL with 502 rushing yards. He is on pace to rush for over 2,000 yards over the course of the season and is only the fourth rookie to start a season with four straight games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage.
The elusiveness, vision and power that Hunt displays in his play is more like that of a league veteran than a bright-eyed rookie. Hunt has been so dominant on the field that his second-half rushing output alone would lead the league.
But, can Hunt maintain the blistering pace he has set in the first four games of the season? I say yes. Don’t expect Kareem Hunt to slow down anytime soon.
Out of all skill players positions in football it may be the hardest for running backs to be consistent. Running backs are hit and tackled more than any other position on the field due to the number of times they receive the ball. As the season wears on this can take a physical toll that can diminish a running back's playing ability.
Time and time again in the NFL, running backs get off to hot starts only to become too worn down to continue playing at that same level throughout the course of a season.
Luckily for Hunt, recent history shows that rookies can avoid these downturns. In 2015 rookie running back Todd Gurley finished third in the league in rushing despite missing the first three games of the season due to injury.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott led the league in rushing in 2016 as a rookie after racking up 703 rushing yards in his first six games in the league.
Whether it be their youthful endurance or just the fact that their bodies haven't had to go through the rigors of a full NFL season, rookie running backs seem particularly equipped to avoid slowdowns in production.
The fact that Hunt plays for the Chiefs only makes it more likely that he will continue his impressive run of form. Whether it be the offensive systems the Chiefs have run over the years or some type of deeper mentality within the locker room, the Chiefs have, in recent memory, always have had one of the strongest ground games in the league.
From Priest Holmes to Larry Johnson to Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs have had a bevy of sensational playmakers line up in the backfield.
The transformation of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West in the past two seasons, from fringe NFL players to dependable starting caliber backs, shows just how effective the Chiefs rushing scheme can be.
And, as this season has shown, when a player of Hunt’s caliber is able to take advantage of this system, the outcome can be extraordinary.
As long as the Chiefs keep using Hunt like they are now, expect him to keep dominating.
Will Long | @Willmatic98
The Kansas City Chiefs are off to an incredible 4-0 start in the 2017-18 NFL season. With a solid defense and one of the league's best offenses, the Chiefs have distanced themselves from their competition as the last remaining undefeated team.
And at the center of this hot start is rookie running back Kareem Hunt.
Hunt, a third round draft pick out of Toledo, has been breaking the NFL this season. He not only leads the league in rushing yards (502), but also in total yards from scrimmage (659), and is second among non-quarterbacks in total touchdowns (6).
Hunt is also second all-time in scrimmage yards for rookie running backs in their first four games, directly ahead of greats such as Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson, and plenty of others. It's safe to say that Hunt has dominated the league thus far, and many could assume that he will continue to do so.
But that's an unlikely scenario. We've seen similar running backs get hot extremely early in their careers, and then hit a wall somewhere around midseason. Take Todd Gurley in his rookie season, for example.
After his debut game (which was basically a test run, as he only received six total carries), Gurley ripped off a total of 566 rushing yards in a span of four weeks. However, after that, he only topped 90 rushing yards once in his last eight games.
Another example of a running back cooling off after a hot start would be Devonta Freeman in 2015, his second year in the league. Freeman received limited playing time in his rookie season, but earned a lot more his next year.
From weeks 3-7, the Falcons running back totaled 824 yards from scrimmage and scored ten total touchdowns. But just like Gurley, Freeman also cooled off tremendously; he never recorded over 90 rushing yards again that year. There are plenty more examples of this as well.
While Kareem Hunt does fit really well in the Chiefs' offensive scheme, it's just not realistic to believe that he can continue his historic pace. With the previous track records of other breakout running backs known, I think it's just a matter of time before the NFL figures out a game plan to stop — or at least slow down — Hunt.
Who knows, maybe it'll limit him to just 100 scrimmage yards per game instead of, say, 150 yards per game. Whatever it may be, don't be surprised if and when Hunt's production decreases.
— Edited by Gabrielle Cinnamon