KANSAS CITY MO - JANUARY 09: Running back Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs for a first down against the Baltimore Ravens during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 9 2011 in Kansas City Missouri. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Fans finally get the news they've been waiting for and Charles will finally get the carries to lead to extreme season numbers.
It's the move that most fans were crying foul over this entire season (and off-season). As much as Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley loves Thomas Jones and has made it known how much of a leader he is, it's also clear that Jones doesn't bring nearly the same production on the field as his Pro Bowl runner, Jamaal Charles. Yet somehow, Charles continued to carry the ball less than Jones game after game and left many sportswriters scratching their heads wondering how Jones finished with more carries on the season than Charles.
Those figures really are astounding once you take a closer look. Jones finished last season with 245 carries to Charles 230, yet most fans are well aware of the difference between Charles' average of 6.4 yards/carry and Jones average of 3.7. The end result is a blistering 1,467 yards for Charles on the season, placing him among historic runners like Barry Sanders and Jim Brown. Jones ended with a respectable 896 yards, but faltered toward the end of the season. And let's face it, placed next to Charles, nearly anyone would look worse.
So in a recent interview with AFC West writer Bill Williamson of ESPN, Todd Haley came clean with his intentions for the upcoming season and acknowledged what many fans hoped for all along. Jones and Charles will switch workloads in 2011. Charles will get the bulk of the carries based on the sheer level of productivity with each run, while Jones can expect to run less and hope to maintain his strength and stamina late into a brutal NFL season. And with that announcement, many fans will breathe a sigh of relief.
It's worth noting that Jones has arguably been cast in an unfair light to this point. Charles was so historically good last season that every fan, of course, wants him running the ball each and every time. And yet it's likely that some of Charles' ability to stay fresh comes from not being overused like many running backs in the league can be. Plus it's not as if Jones is calling the plays in the first place. Instead, he's been a strong veteran presence from day one, setting the tone during the week as well as game day. In the end, something worked out right considering the Chiefs turnaround to a division winner.
Perhaps the wild card that should also be addressed is that Dexter McCluster is also expected to run more, according to Haley. This brings in one more wildcard that not only defenses will have to pay attention to, but Charles and Jones must both make way for. It's on McCluster to stay healthy, but like Charles, there's too much talent there to keep out of the gameplan if he is healthy. With so many offensive weapons, it's difficult to satisfy everyone -- fans included -- but at least some should be a bit more satisfied this season with the Chiefs officially featuring Charles more each game.