On Feb. 7, 2021, Kansas City Chiefs fans around the country watched one of the best offenses in the NFL get utterly stopped in its tracks as Patrick Mahomes ran for his life from the relentless Buccaneers defense. Mahomes ran nearly 500 yards before throwing the ball or being sacked in Super Bowl LV according to Next Gen Stats.
The 2018 NFL MVP, Mahomes gave a valiant performance but got no help from his offensive line, offensive weapons and especially his defense.
In 2019, Chiefs fans sat at home wondering what could have been as the New England Patriots defense held the Los Angeles Rams to a lousy three points. The same Rams, who outlasted the number one ranked offense Kansas City 54-51 on Monday Night Football in week 11.
Bill Belichick forced Los Angeles to punt on a Super Bowl record eight consecutive drives in one of the worst Super Bowls to date. Once again, the luckiest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, was the benefactor of another dominant defensive performance.
It is evident through week 10 of the 2021 season that defenses are content to keep safeties high and force Mahomes to play “Alex Smith football” with check downs. The Chiefs finally made an adjustment in a vintage 41-14 win over the Raiders using shorter passes.
In the NFL, defense reigns supreme, and on the biggest night of the season, it is the defense that deserves a lot of the credit when the quarterback hoists the Lombardi Trophy.
Football is ever-changing at every level of the game. I have been on the sideline for many NFL games, and I have covered my fair share of college football, but watching this Derby offense work is an anomaly that you don’t see anywhere else. They just don’t get stopped.
I had a conversation with a friend last week about just how dominant the ground game is at Derby. The film is out there on Dylan Edwards and Co., and there is a lot of it, but you still have to stop it no matter how much you prepare.
The beauty of Derby’s offense is that it almost can trap teams into trying to stop the run, that big yardage passing plays come available because receivers get one-on-one matchups they know they can win.
I believe that in high school football, the team with the best rushing attack usually has the biggest advantage. The ground game is key, and if you can make opponents sell out on the run and give quarterbacks maybe 10-15 good looks in the air attack, you should have success. It is an added bonus if your quarterback can also run the football.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this when you have top talent at quarterback. For example, take the 2017 state championship matchup between Derby and Blue Valley North.
Current Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz took over that game and threw for 462 yards and four touchdowns with a late rushing touchdown to secure a 49-42 win over the Panthers. Mertz threw the ball 30 times in that ball game.
You just don’t see that kind of passing attack very often in Kansas, but Avery Johnson and Maize might be headed in that direction.
The main point is that this offense has a rooted tradition in the rushing attack, and we might be watching the best ground games that Derby has had, maybe ever. With a massive offensive line in front of quick running backs and a quarterback that isn’t afraid to take a hit, it sometimes feels like a shame that the starters only get a handful of touches.
It is a ground game league in Kansas high school football, and I believe that Derby will win that battle nine out of 10 times, so as the season winds down and the competition stiffens, may the best ground game win.