Jamaal Charles proved to be one of the most dangerous running back in the NFL last season, even though he only had three games with 20 carries. A large part of that was due to head coach Todd Haley’s trust in veteran Thomas Jones. Jones, however, struggled down the stretch and we shouldn’t expect that to change.
Jones will turn 33 in August. He didn’t have more than 68 yards in the final six games of the regular season. His per carry average was 3.4 or fewer in five of those games. Jones had 15 yards on five carries in a playoff loss to Baltimore.
Jones will be faced with the challenge of age moving forward. According to Jason Vida of ESPN Stats & Information, only three running backs in NFL history have rushed for at least 1,000 yards in a season when they were 33 or older on December 31st of that year. The last to do it was John Riggins in 1984 when he ran for 1,239 yards at the age of 35.
Charles needs to get the ball more. I’m not cracking any codes with that statement. But “Free Jamaal Charles” movement aside, we also saw him get up slowly more than a few times throughout the season and particularly the final two games of the season. Haley and the Chiefs need to find a way to get Charles the ball more — 20-25 touches a game sounds about right — while making sure he gets enough rest, a tough balancing act.
More carries for Charles doesn’t mean getting rid of Jones. Haley has already said the veteran would be back and I wouldn’t have it any other way. He was so important to helping Charles take that big step forward last season and will be needed to continue with his development.