Before Andy Reid joined the Kansas City Chiefs, Jamaal Charles was just a running back.
He averaged in the neighborhood of 14-18 carries per game and was a perennial threat to break the 1,000-yard rushing barrier, but he really wasn’t being utilized fully. Behind Reid however, all of that has changed and Charles has now become one of the best players at any position in all of the NFL.
Make no mistake, Reid is a pass-happy coach. He showed this with the Philadelphia Eagles despite having one of the best young backs in the game in LeSean McCoy. But what it seems people didn’t notice then is that for the rushing yards Reid took away from McCoy, he made up for in all-purpose yards. Reid utilized McCoy as a dual-threat in the passing and running game and for the most part, it all paid off.
Now, the head coach is doing the same for Charles. By truly embracing the running back’s speed, pass-catching ability and incredible knack for collecting yards after catch, Reid has put the Chiefs and Charles on top.
Charles showed the ability to be an offensive threat his rookie season when he averaged 10.1 yards per catch on 27 receptions. However, no coach really turned this potential into anything. Charles was only targeted 66 times in his best pass-catching season, which was just over 14 percent of Alex Smith‘s attempted passes that year.
To put that into context, McCoy was targeted 90 times for 16 percent of Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb‘s attempts that same year. Two percent might not seem like a lot, but when you take into account that the Eagles’ quarterbacks attempted nearly 200 more passes in 2010, the impact is quite noticeable.
In fact, in each of his five NFL seasons, McCoy has not once been targeted less than 55 times and has not once caught less than 40 passes. Before this year, in each of Charles’ four full seasons (besides the injury-plagued 2011), he had only caught over 40 passes once and had only been targeted over 55 times once.
However, in 2013, Charles has surpassed McCoy and is the league leader in receptions by a running back. He has been targeted 98 times. This is 41 times more than McCoy and 13 more than Matt Forte, who is second in the NFL in that category. Helped by yesterday’s 195-yard performance in the aerial game, Charles is behind only Forte and McCoy in all-purpose yards as well with 1,836.
Without Reid, none of that would have been possible. He brought his screen offense to Kansas City and the rest is history.
As long as Reid is his coach, you can expect these kind of numbers from Charles for the rest of his career. He was built to be an all-purpose back, and finally someone is using him to his full ability.
Marilee Gallagher is a baseball writer for RantSports.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MGallagher17, like her page on Facebook, or join her network on Google.