The Kansas City Chiefs are playing in their first playoff game since the 2010 season when they travel to take on the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday afternoon. The last time the Chiefs appeared in a post season game, Jamaal Charles had 10 touches, and Kansas City lost 30-7 to the Baltimore Ravens.
In those 10 touches, Charles had 9 rushes for 82 yards, and one catch for 15 yards. He also scored the Chiefs lone touchdown. If Andy Reid doesn’t use Charles more than Todd Haley did, Kansas City will most likely suffer the same fate this time. They will be burdened with another post season loss.
In the last two games in which Charles participated – against Indianapolis and Oakland – he received only 21 total carries. He had 8 carries for 20 yards against the Raiders, and 13 carries for 106 yards in the loss to the Colts. Of course, in those two outings, he also caught 13 balls for 233 yards.
The Chiefs are going to have a hard time winning this game if they do not establish the running attack with Charles early in the first quarter, and continue to feed him the ball throughout the game. Kansas City cannot assume the Colts will fall for the screen pass all day like the Oakland did. Indianapolis is not Oakland.
There really isn’t any reason not to give Charles the pigskin in the running game. He should be as well rested as he has been all year. Not only did he not play last week in the regular season finale against the San Diego Chargers, but he did only have those 21 carries and 13 pass receptions in the previous 2 contests. Keep in mind that on 4 of his catches against the Raiders, Charles wasn’t even touched. He just had to run a long way.
Charles, he of the slender build, should be good physically. Over the course of the season, he has averaged under 22 touches a game (21.93). That is his biggest workload for season in his career, although not significantly more.
Last season, he had 320 touches in 16 games. With the bye week, and the luxury of not having to play in the last game, Charles has not been over worked by any stretch of the imagination.
The most carries he has seen in any one game was 22 twice, but not since mid-October. In fact, he hasn’t had more than 19 carries since October 20th. The most touches in any one game was 27, twice, and not since October 13th. He has not had more than 23 touches in any one outing since October 27th.
Jamaal Charles has not been over worked, and he should be relatively well rested. Now, will Andy Reid feed him the ball?
Charles has the ability to break a big gainer at any time, more so than most players in the NFL. Reid evidently forgets that from time to time. Reid has to establish the fact Charles is going to be a part of this game early with a running attack. Then Reid has to keep his Pro Bowl running back involved in the offense the whole game, and not just with the screen pass.
Since the Raiders’ game, both opponents, including the Colts, have defended the Chiefs screen passes pretty effectively. Indianapolis is not going to be fooled or caught unaware by the Chiefs’ and their love of the screen pass.
Reid could cross them up by calling plays that require throws down field, or at least past the first down marker. Loosen that defense up. Get some of those defensive players out of the box. Create some space for Charles.
If the Chiefs lose and Jamaal Charles has fewer than 25 touches, Andy Reid will have a lot to answer for. There is no reason to save him unless the game is well in hand. Reid needs to find imaginative ways to get the ball to Charles that will allow the running back to work his magic.
If Charles gets 25 or more chances, the odds of him breaking away to score increase, and the Chiefs will have a great chance to leave Indianapolis win a huge playoff victory.
Get the ball to Jamaal Charles!