After he took the league by storm last season, big things were expected for Jamaal Charles in 2010. Then the Kansas City Chiefs signed Thomas Jones, put him at the top of the depth chart and Charles’ role has been in question ever since.
The two running backs split carries 50/50 during week 1, but Jones had twice as many carries as Charles this past week against the Browns. All of this despite Charles owning the third best yards per carry average (6.4) in the league among running backs with at least 20 carries. It is almost nearly 3 yards better than Jones’ average (3.7).
In the locker room after the Browns game, Charles told reporters that he understands he is the backup. Chiefs coach Todd Haley, for his part, still says the team needs every player to play at a high level and wouldn’t label anyone a starter or backup.
“I am going to continue to state the importance of all 53 of these guys, 61 really counting the practice squad guys because it is going to take all of us every week, all week on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and most importantly on Sunday for us to have a chance at success,” Haley said.
“They are both, plus Jackie (Battle), plus Dexter (McCluster), they are all going to have to contribute for us to have a chance to continue to win games. That is our plan, to win games. All of those running backs are going to be a huge part of it, I can guarantee you that.”
Clearly a “huge” part for Charles will be no more than 11 carries in a game. But don’t pin a specific number of carries to Charles or any other player. When asked if he was happy with how many carries Charles has had so far early in the season, Haley was pretty clear with his thoughts.
“What is our record?” Haley asked rhetorically.
“I am very comfortable with how the majority of things have gone. Do I want to be better? Heck yeah. We have to be better in every area.”
Looking at the league stats, Charles’ near-league leading average isn’t the only stat that jumps out.
The Chiefs have averaged the fifth most yards per game as a team. Only the Atlanta Falcons, at No. 4, have a lower yards per carry average (4.0 to Kansas City’s 4.2) among the top five teams.
Haley talks about improving in every area, meaning the Chiefs will need to average 20 more yards per game before they are the best in the league. The quickest way to move up that list would seem to be on the back of their 6.4 yards per carry backup.
Just don’t expect to hear Haley to answer questions about him.