When the 2012 NFL season started, the plan for the Kansas City Chiefs was to hit opponents in the face with a 3-ish headed rushing attack of Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis, and a combo of Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray. But their best laid plans have been undone, and at this point people are starting to wonder if from this point on, will the Chiefs limit Charles’ touches from this point on, and make sure he’s healthy next season?
It all started with Hillis going down with yet another injury 3 games into the regular season. But make no mistake his impact on the Chiefs rushing offense to that point was less than spectacular. Since then, the Chiefs running game has had to lean on Charles, who’s recovering from a knee injury last season. Make no mistake, Charles is incredibly talented. At full speed he is easily a top 5 running back in the league. The inclination would be for the Chiefs to ride him until his wheels fall off.
But the rumor is, and keep in mind this hasn’t been verified, that the Chiefs are hoping with the return of Hillis after the bye, and the season in jeopardy already, they will put Charles on a pitch count so to speak, limiting his carries per game. On the surface, this doesn’t really seem like a big deal, but if you think about it, on some level this is more than a little shady.
If the goal of the Chiefs is to win as many football games between now and the end of the season, then there is no doubt that having Charles on the field as much as possible gives them the best chance to win. But intentionally holding out what we believe is a healthy player who’s the best on the team makes me wonder if the Chiefs coaching staff haven’t decided being ready for next year is more important than these last ten games. It won’t be hard to tell if it’s happening. Once Hillis returns, it will be interesting to keep an eye on his touches. Will we see Charles come off the field at odds times, maybe when he’s got some rhythm in the run game, or after a big tackle? Certainly something to keep an eye on if you are a Chiefs fan.
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