It may seem too obvious to pick a player of Jamaal Charles‘ caliber on which to shine our weekly spotlight, but he is battling some injuries and we need to keep our accumulative eyes focused on the star running back this week.
The Chiefs open their home schedule Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, a much stiffer opponent than the Jacksonville Jaguars in week one. This match up will more indicative if the Chiefs have truly improved over the 2-14 version from a year ago.
For the Chiefs to even hope for a balanced offensive attack, Jamaal Charles must be healthy. Right now, he is recovering from a quad injury suffered last week. He also dealt with ankle issues this preseason. There has always been a question mark about Charles’ durability because of the punishment meted out on his slight frame week in and week out in the NFL.
The Cowboys only surrendered 50 rushing yards to the pass happy, turnover prone New York Giants in week one. Kansas City must surpass that mark by a significant margin to compete with Dallas. The Chiefs do not have the depth of weapons in the passing game as the Giants have, and a stalled running game will make it very difficult to match points with Dallas.
The Chiefs defense seems more equipped to constrain a powerful offense than maybe sometimes in the past. While the defense absolutely dominated last week, do not be over confident. That Jacksonville offense is putrid. This week’s game won’t be as easy.
The Chiefs need Jamaal Charles to be healthy and effective. He racked up 77 yards in his 16 carries last week, well belong his career average of 5.8 per rush, but at 4.8, still very effective. He was also targeted six times in the passing game, making 3 receptions for 23 yards. It is doubtful if Knile Davis or Cyrus Gray are ready to shoulder the load of being the primary rushing option just now. Jamaal Charles has to be effective to make this offense click.
Keep an eye on Charles early. Watch it see if he is tentative on his first few carries. See if the Chiefs try to run him to the outside in the first couple set of downs. Notice if he is sent out into a receiving route. It should be obvious quite early if Charles is 100% or not.
A strong rushing game, combined with the short, quick hitting aerial attack seems to be the Chiefs’ offensive identity, at least so far. The Chiefs want to milk the clock and rest the stalwart defense as much as possible. A healthy Jamaal Charles is a key to the success of that game plan. Let’s hope he is 100% and ready to go when the Chiefs take the field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.