I truly do feel that today is Jamaal Charles’ time to shine. Charles shined in many games last year (in terms of averages) putting together a 4.0 or more yard per carry average in 10 games last year. He carried the ball 50 times in those 10 games as the number two running back who started two games as a rookie last year.
This year, Charles has a 5.0 yard per carry average off of 23 carries running for 116 yards.
Charles has also been an effective receiver as well, especially during a screen play. Charles’ longest run from scrimmage was 75 yards on a screen play against Miami last year. Charles’ only touchdown came against the Buffalo Bills. After catching a pass from Tyler Thigpen, Charles made it seem he was about to run out of bounds. Charles then created separation between himself and a Buffalo linebacker, forcing him to miss and eventually making his way into the endzone.
Today, the Chiefs face a 25th ranked team against the run. Charles had only one-100 yard game last season and that was against Tampa Bay (rushing for 106 yards.) Charles has an opportunity to get his second career 100 yard game, his first as a starter. He also has a chance to score his first career rushing touchdown.
Jacksonville was lit up last week by Chris Johnson, who ran the ball 24 times piling 228 yards against the Jaguars. However, the Chiefs need to be aware that Maurice Jones-Drew was also a key asset last week, despite giving Tennessee their first win of the season. Jones-Drew ran for 177 yards off of only eight carries (and had a 22.1 yard per carry average, as opposed to Johnson, who had a 9.5 yard per carry average. Both are still high numbers.)
It’s very likely that we’ll see over 350 rushing yards and three touchdowns combined from both Charles and Jones-Drew.
Keys to game for Kansas City:
1–Call the right plays: Many have been frustrated with Todd Haley’s play calling. We can sit here and discuss solutions for the future, but that won’t do the Chiefs any good for today’s game. Haley has to realize that he has a fast running back facing a poor defensive football team. The Haley needs to call the right plays in order for the Chiefs to find success and get their first rushing touchdown this season.
2–Pound the ball in the endzone: The Chiefs not only have yet to add a rushing touchdown to their stat book, but they have yet to score a touchdown in the first quarter. Kansas City’s slow start has cost them a couple games this season. Matt Cassel and company have to be very aggressive from start to finish. With Chris Chambers as the new receiver and Jamaal Charles taking over, that could very well be a possibility.
3–Turnovers: The Chiefs have been very good this year in keeping control of the ball, being fourth in the NFL in giveaways with only seven. However, Kansas City’s defense has not shown production, coming away with only eight takeaways, ranked 31st in the league (only Washington is behind Kansas City with seven takeaways.) Jacksonville hasn’t forced many turnovers, but they’ve had issues keeping the football away from their opponents. Kansas City needs to force some turnovers, but the points won’t come until the offensive takes advantage of those turnovers.
4–Kick field goals if necessary: The Chiefs have attempted to convert on fourth down 17 times and have succeeded 11 times (league high in both categories.) The Chiefs have been successful on fourth down, however, they cannot afford to make a living on fourth down. The Chiefs have struggled this year converting on 21% of their third downs, a league low. The six failed fourth down conversions have came back to haunt the Chiefs many times. Haley has made some questionable calls (as mentioned in key number one.) Haley’s play calling has added more questions while having his team go for it on fourth down when they have a chance to score a field goal. Let’s face it, the Chiefs have struggled this year scoring only 10 offensive touchdowns and one touchdown after blocking a punt, giving them a total of 11 ranked 28th in the league. Haley must score when he has the chance, even if it means coming down to winning another game with zero touchdowns. Who knows if the Chiefs defense shows up and perform well in Jacksonville. Haley decided to forego kicking a field goal many times, just to see his team fall short on fourth down a couple times and miss adding points on the score board.
This is Kansas City’s game to win. It will require an effective and speedy running game out of Charles and intelligent coaching. I’ll be favoring the Chiefs in this one, 24-17.
OTHER NOTES: The Chiefs released WR Bobby Engram to make room for RB Kolby Smith; The Chiefs have decided to bench WR Bobby Wade today, which means there will be a new punt returner today.
CHIEFS—QB 15 Matt Gutierrez (3rd), CB 20 Donald Washington, S 47 Jon McGraw, G/T 60, Ikechuku Ndukwe, WR 80 Bobby Wade, TE 85 Jake O’Connell, TE 87 Brad Cottam, LB 97 Pierre Walters.
WR 19 Tiquan Underwood, S 20 Anthony Smith, CB 38 Brian Witherspoon, LB 55 Adam Seward, DT 66 Derek Landri, G 74 Maurice Williams, T 78 Jordan Black, DT 93 Greg Peterson.