What McClain Brings to KC … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs were the best team in the NfL last year when it came to running the football.

They averaged 164.2 yards per game.

The Chiefs were one of the worst teams in the league last year in successfully running in short yardage situations.

On 3rd-down and 2 yards or less, they finished No. 29 out of 32 teams, converting a first down on only half of 22 running plays. They averaged just 1.4 yards per carry.

Hello Le’Ron McClain. The Chiefs agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the UFA fullback from the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday afternoon. He was on campus at Missouri Western State University on Thursday and was part of the afternoon practice.

At least he was part of practice until the excitement got to him. McClain has to be the first Chiefs player in the last 31 years who left his lunch on the practice field because he was so excited about being in training camp. He was forced to spend about 30 minutes out of practice in the medical tent as the trainers got some Gatorade in him and sent him back to practice, where he finished up the afternoon.

The Chiefs are getting a 6-0, 260-pound Alabama slammer, who in his best season with the Ravens (2008) was nearly unstoppable in short yardage and goal line situations.

Twice a Pro Bowler and twice an All-Pro selection (2008-09), McClain was the cream of a very thin free agency crop for the Chiefs. He’s 26-years old, so he should be in his prime as an athlete. If he’s healthy and if he’s motivated, McClain should be able to provide power enough to fix the only real hole in the Chiefs running game – short yardage.

“I’m coming in to do anything I can to help the Chiefs win,” McClain told the media after Thursday’s practice. “If I have to block, I’m going to do that. I have to run the ball I’m going to do that. This isn’t about me. It’s about getting wins for the Chiefs and getting to the Super Bowl.”

What Todd Haley wants is improved play and production from the fullback position. That’s why they used several different avenues to add talent at the position. They drafted Shane Bannon from Yale. They kept Tervaris Johnson after the big back out of Miami spent the 2010 season on the injured reserve lit. They offered RFA Mike Cox enough to keep him.

And they spent money in free agency on McClain.

“In the offseason, when we go through our musts, our needs, our want and our luxuries, fullback was definitely one of those positions. One priority is getting good football players that we think can come in here and fit; those are the types of guys that we’re looking for and be a part of this. Le’Ron fits that bill in both areas. He’s got good energy, he’s excited to be here and that’s what we want, we want guys that want to be here. It was very clear from the start that he wanted to be here.”

It turns out that Haley has been chasing McClain for years, going back to when the head coach was the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinal.

“We’ve obviously seen a bunch of him and we saw him up close and personal in our playoff game last year where he was an active part of some of their success against us,” Haley said. I’m glad he’s on our side. I think he’s a big, physical fullback, who’s obviously in the past has shown really good run ability in the year when he had a chance to carry the ball when they had an injury.

“With that being said, he’s very clear, we’re very clear, he’s coming in to be our fullback, first and foremost.”

He’s coming to the Chiefs to move the chains on third and fourth down.

“We did a full evaluation of that area because efficiency wise that was not winning football,” Haley said. “It obviously cost us in some really critical situations right down to the end of the season. Without getting into too much detail, that’s an area that we know needs to improve and we’re working very hard at that because those are situations that will keep you from staying on the field offensively and ultimately get you beat a lot of times.”

23 Responses to “What McClain Brings to KC … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • August 5, 2011  - ED says:

    This along with other free agent signings was a very good pick up. He should continue helping us be a top 5 rushing team along with improving our 3rd and short conversion rate.

  • August 5, 2011  - Anonymous says:

    Pioli is slowly and carefully stocking this team for a real shot at success.

    The offense looks good. maybe a few holes in the O line.

  • August 5, 2011  - Tim-may says:

    When TJ wears down in November, this guy is going to explode. I can’t wait to see him and JC line up in the back field. TRich and Priest were a great combo, can’t wait to see how these two fit together!!

  • August 5, 2011  - Marvin says:

    TRich was always good for 3 – 4 touchdowns a year and many catches or runs off of a Priest or TonyG decoy. I see LM being used much the same way. It’s all about options and Le’Ron gives us another.

  • August 5, 2011  - el cid says:

    I do not get the 1 year contract. What will he prove to the NFL in 1 more year? If he is what the Chiefs need at FB, why not a 2 or 3 year deal, not garanteed of course?

    It is odd.

  • August 5, 2011  - SG says:

    Double threat opportunity…direct handoff to McClain on 3rd and short gives a strong option…additionally he is reliable in catching short passes is he not?

    I presume he’ll give Cassel additional time in the pocket, so he can consider throws to Mr. Breaston or Moeaki.

  • August 5, 2011  - Rick says:

    Another great signing by Mr Pioli.

    He and Todd are quietly putting together a contender, one that has gotten better each off season.

  • August 5, 2011  - aPauled says:

    I’m not so sure that Thomas Jones is going to make it out of August with the Chiefs. With McCluster moving to the backfield and the addition of McClain it’s going to be difficult to carry another reserve RB who doesn’t play special teams and averages 2.2.

  • August 5, 2011  - Chris says:

    I would say this is a one year contract because he wants to run the ball as well as play fullback. The market had dried up for him and I think if he pulls his weight this year we will extend him in season. He isn’t the normal type of player we go after personality wise so they are hedging their bets.

  • August 5, 2011  - SG says:

    “I’m not so sure that Thomas Jones…”

    That’s a question mark. However, I do believe Mike Cox is likely expendable, presuming Mr. Bannon shows some skills. McClain can show Bannon the ropes on how the job is done and the Chiefs can keep him (or Bannon if Bannon is ready) next season.

  • August 5, 2011  - Mike says:

    McClain should be a good pickup if he performs as he has since he’s been in the league. It appears to be a very nice move. A little confused as to the length of the contract though. Some report 1 year, others reported a multi year deal.

  • August 5, 2011  - Mike in MO says:

    My thinking on Todd Haley has come damn close to a 180. I was ready to send him packing by midway into the ’09 season. Since then I’ve been impressed by his maturation as a coach, both in-game and out. I like the thorough analysis that the team (Haley/Pioli, and others) makes before deciding on team needs and which free agents to pursue. They’re not going to prove correct 100% of the time, but it won’t be because they didn’t do their due diligence. One other thing I like about Todd now: He actually smiles once in a while!!!

  • August 5, 2011  - Kevin A. B. says:

    I agree with Chris, I think Pioli/Haley were just a little concerned about McClain making noise about carries in the past and his tweeting/PR habits. So, they made sure he understood he’s a FB this year. I suspect there was also an explicit discussion that if he proves himself to be a team first guy they would extend him to take Jones role going forward.

  • August 5, 2011  - el cid says:

    Before you have McCluster taking Jones place, look at size. Mc is to darned small to be more than a specialty back. Sproles has played with less stature but not every little guy is him or every team with a West coast style would have one. And, heaven forbid, if Charles gets nicked and needs extended time off, really want to see Mc try to carry the load. No we need a Jones to rest Charles.

  • August 5, 2011  - aPauled says:

    If Charles gets nicked, I don’t think that we can depend on Jones either. McClain made the Pro Bowl carrying the load in Baltimore when the feature back was injured. If Charles was out, the combo of McClain/McCluster with Cox/Bannon/Johnson at FB would be more productive than Jones of the 2.2 average. Jones looked to have hit the wall last year.

  • August 5, 2011  - Blake says:

    I think Jones will still be on the roster, he is a leader and we need him know that Waters and Vrabel are gone.

    I think the RB/FB situation will look like this:


    Bannon probably makes practice squad, and Battle and Cox get cut.

  • August 5, 2011  - el cid says:

    I like Jones for one more year or thru 10 games. Maybe McClain can carry the load, would make him really rich next year, especially only 1 year contract.

    I know many, smarter than me, like McCluster but he seems more like a novelty act. I will add Arenas to it. He is dime back and returner and the Chiefs will continue to look for replacement before his contract is up.

  • August 5, 2011  - Mark says:

    I think they have to carry another FB besides McClain, because when McClain is the RB in short situations, you need a FB to block, so I think Bannon or Cox makes the team, along with Jamaal, TJ, and DMC, who is a RB/Slot hybrid.

  • August 5, 2011  - justin says:

    just like priest and t.rich, except younger.

  • August 5, 2011  - aPauled says:

    You’re right Mark. This is what Haley was talking about after drafting Bannon. As I recall Haley called him a FB/TE/LB on draft day. That type of flexibility (assume that LB is on Special Teams) would allow the Chiefs to activate a second FB. Of course they could also replace FB Shaun Smith with another Big’n that’s already active.

  • August 6, 2011  - SG says:

    Any signs that Bannon is developing enough to make the team?

  • August 6, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    I think we just found our next “Nigerian Nightmare” in Le’Ron McClain. Remember Christian Okoye??? Just kidding, but seriously Iam very excited about this guy if they can get him in shape. He certainly can make a big difference in crucial situations. At age 26 I wish they would have signed him to more than just a one year contract.

  • August 6, 2011  - kevin says:

    I have done an almost 180 on Egoli and Todd, too. The proof is in the pudding. There is a method to their madness; and they are not the d****s I thought they were.

    I do not think their egos will get in the way of the Chiefs advancing to a Super Bowl like it did with DV. The Chiefs should have made it to a couple of Super bowls with the team they had, they just threw the ball too much and threw it too much to Gonzalez (great hall of fame tight end but not a Shannon Sharpe or Antonio Gates).

    I do not think they are interested in style points or padding stats.

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