When Jamaal Charles suffered a torn ACL in Week 5 last season, there was a lot of uncertainty about how the Kansas City Chiefs would move forward offensively. While Alex Smith got the passing attack on a roll, backup running backs Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware shined while filling in for Charles.
The two running backs were impressive enough that general manager John Dorsey re-signed both players this offseason. Many may think that bringing back West and Ware would spell the end for Charles in Kansas City. But according to Terez Paylor of The Kansas City Star, Dorsey said that Charles is an important part of the team, insinuating that he will be back in 2016.
When Charles went out in 2015, the Chiefs went 11-2 with West and Ware, including a 1-1 record in the playoffs. The two amassed 989 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. In addition to their impressive rushing statistics as a duo, West and Ware also combined for 24 catches for 210 yards and a touchdown, a majority of them coming from West.
Yes, Charles is 29 and recovering from his second torn ACL, this time on his right knee. However, he finished above expectations when he returned in 2012 from his previous ACL tear that occurred in Week 2 of the 2011 season.
Despite a two-win season for the Chiefs, Charles was a bright spot in 2012 when he rushed for 1,509 yards, a single-season career-high for him and the most in the AFC that year. But the best two seasons of his career came in 2013 and 2014 under Andy Reid’s guidance.
Charles logged 1,980 yards from scrimmage in 2013 and scored 19 touchdowns. His 19 scores were the most in 2013 and the most by an NFL player in a season the last four years. Charles’ statistics took a dip in 2014, falling to 1,324 yards, but that was mostly due to the offense finding another viable contributor in the receiving game in tight end Travis Kelce. Charles still found the end zone plenty of times, 14 to be exact, the third most behind Marshawn Lynch and Dez Bryant.
Running backs have excelled under Reid’s offense in Philadelphia and Kansas City. It’s uncertain if Charles will eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in 2016, but as a unit, Kansas City’s rushing attack will do a lot of damage to opposing defenses. To add, Smith is a scrambling quarterback, and the Chiefs aren’t shy about using speedy wideouts, like Jeremy Maclin and Albert Wilson, for rushing plays.
The Chiefs have plenty of rapidity across the offense. Guys showcased their abilities to find holes and use their breakaway speed to move the chains last year, eventually leading the offense to the end zone. Kansas City’s offense will rely on this heavily, helping the team finish first in rushing yards in 2016.