Hi everyone, my name is Gerard Mc Nally. I will be writing for Chiefs Command every Friday. This week I’d like to focus in on one player on the Kansas City Chiefs roster who in my opinion is ready for a very big year. That of course is running back, Jamaal Charles.
Jamaal Charles played his college football for the Texas Longhorns, in his true freshman year with the team the Texas Longhorns went on to win the BCS National Championship defeating the University Of Southern California Trojans by 41-38. Through this championship winning season Jamaal Charles contributed 878 yards on 119 rushing attempts for an average of 7.4 yards per carry. He also scored 11 touchdowns for the team. After a poor sophomore season, Charles bounced back to produce over 1400 yards rushing for the 2007 Texas Longhorns. He decided after this year to forgo his senior season and to declare himself for the NFL Draft. Charles was a prospect with excellent speed however concerns about his fumbling problems and size meant that he dropped out of the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft and fell to the Kansas City Chiefs who selected him in the third round with the 73rd overall pick.
When Jamaal Charles joined the KC Chiefs in 2008 he was third on their depth chart at running back behind both Larry Johnson and Kolby Smith. After his 416 carries in the 2006 NFL season Larry Johnson began to struggle with injuries. He played only eight games in 2007 and managed twelve in the 2008 season. This was probably one of the major contributing factors that made the KC Chiefs decide to draft Jamaal Charles. In his rookie season in the NFL Jamaal Charles managed to gain 357 rushing yards on a total of 67 attempts. Resulting in an average of 5.3 yards per rush. In week nine of his rookie season, with Larry Johnson unable to play due to injury, Jamaal Charles got the lion’s share of the carries and ripped off 106 rushing yards on 18 carries against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For a gaudy average of 5.9 yards per carry.
Coming into the 2009 season it was clear that all those carries earlier in his career were beginning to a have a big effect on Larry Johnson. The new spread / pistol style offense that Head Coach Todd Haley was beginning to run more frequently was clearly not suited to Larry Johnson’s skill set. Through the 2008 and 2009 seasons Larry Johnson’s average per carry had fallen from 4.3 yards per carry to 3.8 yards per carry. Johnson became very unhappy with the coaching staff and this culminated with his now infamous twitter rant tainted with homophobic slurs. The team duly released him seven games into the 2009 season and installed Jamaal Charles as the new starter.
What followed was truly incredible. Jamaal Charles started 10 games in the 2009 NFL season, averaging 19 carries per game. He had 190 rushing attempts on which he gained a very respectable 1,120 yards. Again this was for an average of 5.9 yards per carry. To put this outstanding performance into context, if Jamaal Charles had started all 16 games and had 19 carries per game and managed to gain 5.9 yards per carry he would have ended up with 1794 total rushing yards for the year. Even more astounding than this, if he had of had the same number of carries as Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans, he would have produced 2112 yards on the ground. Whether this would have actually happened or not is matter up for debate. However it’s clear that the Kansas City Chiefs have found themselves something pretty special at running back.
The upcoming season will be huge for Jamaal Charles and his development as a player. The Kansas City Chiefs brought in Thomas Jones from the New York Jets to help provide depth at the running back position. I really think that the Chiefs playoff hopes rest on the shoulders of Jamaal Charles, if the chiefs can give him 300+ carries on the ground and he can maintain an average of over five yards per carry, then things will be much easier for Matt Cassel and the offense as a whole. My main concern is that Thomas Jones will steal away touches from the most productive player on the offense and this will hurt the team. My projection for Jamaal Charles is that he will get his 300 carries and will be up at the very top of the 2010 NFL Rushing charts along with the likes of Chris Johnson. If this happens the Kansas City Chiefs will be primed for a surprise year and hopefully a run into the playoffs as AFC West Divisional Champions.