Jamaal Charles: Canton or Bust


Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jamaal Charles has a chance to be one of the statistically great running backs in the history of the NFL. And he’s homegrown talent for the Kansas City Chiefs. Even with ramshackle offensive lines and a dark void at quarterback, Charles proves year in and year out to be one of the most explosive players in the league. With the right pieces in place he’s flat out dominant.

The current NFL more closely resembles the college game with spread offenses and a de-emphasis on the running game. What is it going to take to permanently enshrine the current chiefs running back in Canton?

Here is Jamaal’s most telling stat thus far:

5.6 yards per carry – career.

The current holder of that record – at 5.2 yards per carry – is Hall of Famer Jim Brown. No one has touched it since 1965. If that stat can be sustained or bettered over the rest of his playing days, we can point to the distinct possibility of a Hall of Fame honor.

This has all been written about and discussed by chiefs fans before. The one thing that is rarely talked about is why it’s so important that the Chiefs make this happen.

For a long time the identity of the Kansas City Chiefs has been run the ball, play punishing defense. Quality QB play has sporadic at best, and they’ve rarely had true stars in the receiving game.

Running the ball has been a source of pride throughout nearly every era of successful KC football.

Tony Gonzalez aside, most of the recent Chiefs HOF quality players have been the offensive linemen that plowed the trenches for Marcus Allen, Priest Holmes, and *ugh* Larry Johnson. And yet, we’ve never had a running back, (other than the aforementioned Allen, who spent most of his career with the Raiders), recognized on football’s highest level.

Currently Jamaal Charles represents one of the few highlights of a dark, dark period in Chiefs football. He’s often been one of the best in the league without such epic lines or powerful offenses behind him.

If we want to see a true return to the rock solid confidence and swagger from fans that Arrowhead was built upon, it’s vitally important that we put Jamaal on the path toward Canton.

Feed him the ball. Make the effort to pad his stats. I realize that sounds antithetical to traditional wisdom, but the logic is sound: The more yards he gets, the more touchdowns he scores, the better our offense becomes.

Putting him in position to maintain his current yards per carry record means putting him in open space to break long runs, which has always been his strength. There’s nearly no downside (barring injury) to this approach since constant rushing attacks will inevitably open up the play-action passing game that suits Alex Smith.

This may sound oversimplified, one dimensional, or even absurd, but I believe my point is clear. The Chiefs need to make the effort to shift Jamaal Charles from the exception to a bad football team to the rule of a dominant one. His historic success will correlate directly with wins in the box score as well as winning back the hearts of Chiefs Nation.

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