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Charles Gives Chiefs Old-School Toughness

Posted Nov 14, 2013

Independent analyst Andrew Mason dives into the impact Jamaal Charles has had on the Chiefs this season.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- No running back or wide receiver represents a greater percentage of his team's offense than Kansas City's Jamaal Charles. And no team has been on the receiving end of more stellar play from Charles than the Broncos.

He has more games of at least 100 rushing yards against Denver than anyone else, hitting that mark in three of his last five games against the Broncos, including a 107-yard performance last November that represents the last 100-yard game allowed in the regular season by Denver's defense, and the only one in the last 20 regular-season games. He's averaged 115.2 yards a game in his last five duels with Denver.

"Most definitely, he is -- in my eyes -- one of the top two backs in the league," said defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson. "He’s explosive, he’s a good back."

But his role is different this year. He's just a bit off the pace that sent him over 1,500 yards in 2012, and his per-carry average of 4.3 is on pace the be the lowest of his career by a full yard. But at the same time, he's never been a more viable threat in the passing game, and already has career-best tallies in receptions (47) and targets (71).

"He does so many things out of the backfield to where you don't really know what he's doing sometimes," said safety Rahim Moore. "But he's so effective because he catches the ball first, and if he gets any lane, any crease, it's a touchdown."

Few are more effective on screen passes than Charles, as well.

"Everybody has to just swarm him," Moore said. "Sometimes you see one or two guys trying to stop the screen. You need all hands. That's the way you stop it. And sometimes that might not be enough. You need to tackle. And he's breaking so many tackles and he's making so many guys miss."

But while the breakaway speed is what has always stood out -- evidenced by his per-cary averages over his career -- he has become a more effective power runner this year. His 4.3-yards-per-carry average comes without a run of longer than 24 yards. And although Charles' per-carry average is one yard below last year, his first-down rate is up; he moves the sticks once every 4.15 carries, 0.45 better than his rate last year.

"People always think he's not the biggest back, but he's strong like those big backs, and he has unbelievable speed," Moore said. "He has no weaknesses. He can block, he can run, he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He's a complete back."

And he's a busy back. No NFL running back has touched the football more often per game than Charles, who has averaged 24.1 touches per game and has handled the football on 36.4 percent of Kansas City's snaps.

There aren't many backfield workhorses left in the game, but Charles fits the description well, bringing a dose of old-school toughness to a team that has embodied it through nine games.