We thought this was coming. No, we knew this was coming, or we thought we knew it was coming.
But really, as we tried to measure Jamaal Charles’ ceiling in a new offense under Andy Reid throughout the offseason, we were lying to ourselves. Not even the foremost seers among us could have predicted the sudden boom we’re seeing from Charles.
The assumption that something spectacular could be forthcoming began the minute Reid was hired in Kansas City way back last January. In past Reid offenses in Philadelphia there was always a deep threat (DeSean Jackson, or before him, Terrell Owens), but his west coast system ran through a running back who excelled in space. It was a matter of creating that space, which was often done through the passing game, and finding a mismatch in the open field.
That was LeSean McCoy’s gig under Reid (and it still is under Chip Kelly). In Reid’s final season as the Eagles head coach last year McCoy missed four games with a concussion, yet he was still targeted 67 times in the passing game, which he turned into 54 catches for 373 yards.
Two years prior to that in 2010 was McCoy’s career high in both receptions (78), and receiving yards (592), which was the first time he joined the list of Reid’s elite pass-catching RBs. Previously it was Brian Westbrook, who caught 90 passes in 2007 for 771 yards. Between 2004 and 2007 Westbrook averaged 697.3 receiving yards per year, and he also had two +1,200 yard rushing seasons over that time.
The end game with the McCoy or the Westbrook and now the Charles in a Reid offense is to expand on the talent that makes them effective as runners in the open field (mainly speed, and then more speed, and the ability to make tacklers miss instead of going through them), and then add a larger dimension. If they’re suited for it, the running back often becomes the anchor for the quick and short high-percentage throws which are at the core of any west coast variation.
During the offseason, the first major hint that Charles would become a chess piece to be used anywhere and everywhere in the passing game — lining up in the slot and even out wide in addition to conventionally out of the backfield — came from Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, who discussed the running back’s usage even at that point during OTAs.
“You’ve seen him sprint out of the single receiver, and he’ll come out of the backfield. He’s a guy that needs to move around, and (one) you can put in different positions, motion out the back, shift him from the backfield. He catches the ball so well that you have to take advantage of that offensively.”
Basically then we were to expect that he’d be used all around the formation, and be given an abundance of touches. And while we already knew that he’s not too shabby when asked to run with a football placed directly into his gut (he had a career high 1,509 rushing yards in 2012 at a pace of 5.3 per carry), adding that extra dimension to his game through Reid’s west coast leanings could end in some astronomical numbers.
Well, here’s where we’re at now, and when looking at the digits below remember that we’re still a week away from only reaching the hallway mark of the season.
- With eight touchdowns and 898 total yards (561 on the ground, and 337 through the air), Charles now has at least 100 yards and a touchdown in seven straight games. O.J. Simpson is the only player in league history with a longer streak.
- That pace of 128.3 yards per game has Charles chugging towards 2,052 total yards this season, which would be a new career high. So far, he’s accounted for 38 percent of the Chiefs’ total offense, and 28 percent of their total points.
- Also easily a career high is Charles’ pace of 18 touchdowns, as even now he’s already matched his previous high of eight. He’s scored nearly half of the Chiefs’ total touchdowns (19).
- With 36 receptions through seven weeks (four behind running back reception leader Danny Woodhead), Charles has eclipsed his 2012 total (35), and while averaging 5.1 catches per game he’ll surpass his previous single-season high (45) in about two games.
- At that pace he’ll finish with 82 receptions. To put that in perspective, perennial running back receiving stud Darren Sproles has topped 80 catches just once. Last year he led all running backs with 75 catches.
- On pace for 770 yards right now, he’ll also shatter his previous receiving yards high (468).
- Charles has been targeted 57 times, which again has him set to crush a career high (64). He’s been the intended receiver on nearly a quarter (22.8 percent) of Alex Smith’s throws, a remarkable number for a running back. Turning to Sproles again for a comparison, he’s marginally ahead of Charles while getting 27.3 percent of Drew Brees’ targets.
Yep, I’d say the Reid-Charles era is starting off quite well.
Given his current pace, room on the #FanEnough bandwagon for Jamaal Charles is filling up fast. You can show your support by signing up for Pepsi Experience Points to win #FanEnough prizes.