“He that can have patience can have what he will.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Often there’s nothing immediate about the running game. Sometimes there is, and sometimes there’s a burst early in the first quarter. A 40-yard run brings roars, spilled beer, and warm embraces between strangers. All is peaceful and perfect.
But more often it’s a process. A fighting, grinding process. Last night Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was a willing participant in that process, a week after he really, really wasn’t, and Jamaal Charles received only five carries.
Fantasy owners are grateful, Brian.
Two of Charles’ carries in Kansas City’s 31-13 loss to San Diego went for no gain, and he went backwards on two others for a combined -6 yards. That’s four carries where he accomplished nothing, all in the first half. Last week that was seemingly the part when Daboll would have given up, and added a third game to Charles’ total this year when he’s received less than 10 carries, although in fairness Charles may or may not have been injured in Week 2 when he had only six carries for three yards.
But the grinding persisted last night, and Charles’ ninth carry of the game at the 6:31 mark of the third quarter went for 10 yards. Then a few plays later his 11th carry went for 11 yards, which was followed by his 13th touch on a swing pass going for 22 yards at the 10:39 mark of the fourth quarter.
In total Charles finished with 66 yards on 15 touches, 12 of which were carries. Simple addition then leads to what should also be a simple conclusion, though at times it’s not for Daboll: give Charles the damn ball more, and nice things will happen. Of those overall 66 yards, 43 of them (65 percent), came over just three plays near the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth.
You’ll also recall that at the time when Charles was running free later in the game, the Chiefs offense began to look like the Chiefs offense, and for the first time in a long time the preceding words in this sentence don’t require the sarcasm font.
This is a team that does one thing right: run. The Chiefs have a running offense, and anything else is secondary. The rare long completion to Dwayne Bowe is just for show, really, as opponents need to at least believe the impossible is possible, and Matt Cassel can complete such a pass.
But ever since those seemingly far off days several seasons ago when the Chiefs were competitive and they made the playoffs in 2010 while Charles rushed for 1,467 yards as part of a gashing RB tandem alongside Thomas Jones, when they’re successful, they’re running. And if we reduce this game to represent a microcosm of the successful Chiefs vs. the bumbling Chiefs, it’s easy to look at the final score and forget how close it was at one point. The drive when Charles had his most success after pounding away throughout the game ended in a field goal that cut the Chargers’ lead to just four (10-6).
Even after the Chiefs were then gashed defensively with a 31-yard run by Ryan Mathews followed by an 11-yard bull doze job by Jackie Battle that eventually led to a touchdown, the game wasn’t lost. They were down by 10 with over 11 minutes remaining, but that’s when the good Chiefs with their running and pounding and throat slashing gave way to the incompetent Chiefs, with their interceptions and fumbling and game tossing. Two quick touchdowns later, and those mistakes equaled losing.
The one constant for the successful Chiefs is running, and whenever Daboll realizes that, winning could actually become a thing in KC again, and Charles owners will win too. I’m not saying that Charles should receive 30 carries a game consistently, because that leads to bone breakage, and that’s not the kind of workload he thrives under anyway. During that 2010 season when he averaged 6.4 yards per carry, Charles had a very moderate 14.4 rushing attempts per game. He’s the kind of runner who needs to chip away gradually, and then the levy breaks, and eventually several touches pop late in the third quarter.
That formula worked last night briefly, for the Chiefs, for Daboll, for Charles, and for Charles owners. Hopefully the lunacy of last week’s five carries is long behind us.
And now the links part of the links post…
- Give Ryan Mathews the damn ball more too. [Adam Levitan]
- The Cowboys want to sign Tony Romo to a contract that will keep him in Dallas for life. [Fort Worth Star Telegram]
- It seems that Michael Vick is human, and public speculation about his contract is bothersome. [Tim McManus]
- Tony Gonzalez wants you to talk about the Falcons more, and come see how good they look. [USA Today]