One Day to Camp: Jamaal Charles

One Day to Camp: Jamaal Charles

Had it not been for All World Quarterback, Peyton Manning, Kansas City Chiefs Running Back, Jamaal Charles would have been the NFL MVP in 2013. This season he’ll be in the hunt for that elusive title once again. Should that occur he and the rest of his teammates could have some super fun this season.

When Andy Reid came to the Kansas City Chiefs 18 months ago he had a clear track record of being a pass first run second kind of head coach. In his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, he had some great running backs but none like, Jamaal Charles.

I’m not even going to bore you with the stats Charles put up a year ago. They are marvelous considering NFL teams have begun shying away from their reliance on elite running backs. Well that’s not the case in Kansas City. In fact, the entire offense goes through Charles first and every one else second.

The beauty about that plan; the Chiefs can run their offense in any fashion they choose with Charles lined up in the backfield. As we saw last season, he’s equally dangerous running the ball or catching it.

He’s proven in his tenure in Kansas City that the man can score from any point on the field regardless of down or distance. If he gets a break of daylight or makes a single defender whiff in slowing him down, he’s off to the races in a blaze of glory.

For a player who resides just south of the 200 pound mark, its absolutely amazing that Charles can take such a pounding and still be productive every Sunday. He’s an incredible athlete despite his overall size who runs just as fast in the first quarter as he does in the fourth. But he has that one thing though you can’t coach, the drive to be special every time he touches the ball.

I’ll never forget two years ago when he went down to injury against the Detroit Lions. He was lost for the season and required extensive knee surgery. Some three months later I saw him in the locker room and honestly I didn’t recognize him.

I had to do a double take just to make sure that was indeed Sir Charles because at that point in time he looked as if he dropped some thirty pounds. I thought to myself there’s no way he’ll be ready to play meaningful games at the start of the 2012 season.

Well was I wrong. He led the Chiefs in rushing that season, ran faster than before the injury and made it clear he’s a Superhero. The internal drive Charles maintains every single day to become the best at his craft is something we should all aspire to be in whatever profession we choose in life.

As I look back on the 2013 season, I still grimace to think what KC’s post season success could have been had Charles not been injured in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts. Though, Knile Davis, did a splendid Charles impersonation, it’s too bad he sustained a concussion so early in the game left all of us wondering how far this team may have exceeded expectations. I have to believe the Chiefs offense with Charles would have salted the game away.

If Kansas City is going to be take the next step offensively (and they were darn good over the last half of the season), Charles has to remain healthy. Even further, Reid still can utilize Charles more than he did a year ago.

Knowing Reid has a capable back-up in the aforementioned Davis, the Chiefs offense can’t rest on their laurels. With the defense still in a state of flux, KC’s offense has to close out games and build insurmountable leads that eat up time of possession and find success scoring touchdowns in the Red Zone.

Now I’m good with spelling Charles from time to time but even if he’s not the focal point in the play Reid calls, every defender is going to have their eye on stopping Superman. At times last year, Reid tried was too fancy with his All Pro running back and should have just put the ball in his hands especially in first and goal short yardage situations.

In using him as a decoy, he ignored certain formations by not giving him the ball that cost his team points and victories. Let’s be honest every defender knows Charles can touch the ball on any snap. Reid has to make sure, when he refines his playbook heading into the 2014 season, he uses that power to his advantage.

Still it’s hard to knock what Reid did a year ago. He brought a fresh attitude into an organization that was breathing stale air. The job he did directing a 2-12 team and getting them into the playoffs was a serious accomplishment.

It should be noted the play of Quarterback, Alex Smith, was certainly a factor in the Chiefs double digit point explosions down the stretch. However, if not for Charles, getting more touches running and catching the ball, there’s not chance KC would have won 11 games and made the post season.

This year Reid wouldn’t be human if if didn’t worry Charles will slow down and worse yet, wear done as the season grinds toward December. But until that fateful day occurs, they better get the most out of him while the ride lasts.

The life of an NFL running back could end abruptly on any given snap. But Charles has proven he’s tough as nails no matter what’s thrown his direction. It might not look like it from the outside but I can tell you this; not many players within KC’s locker room works as hard as Charles for 16 weeks.

He didn’t win the MVP a year ago but I can’t think of anyone player that’s more valuable to his team than Charles. He’s gone beyond the little engine that could when he came out of the University of Texas to become a freight train that’s faster than a speeding bullet.

Can Charles keep up his Superman pace in 2014?

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