The results from Monday’s poll question are in. The majority of you (40%) believe that the Chiefs will lead the AFC West in rushing this season. The Chargers came in 2nd with 32% of the vote, followed by the Broncos with 25%, and the Raiders with 3%. There were a total of 525 voters.
I completely agree with the majority. The Chiefs’ backfield of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones is downright frightening. This is especially true for Broncos fans that saw Charles blast our defense for 259 rushing yards and 2 TDs in our last meeting with the Chiefs.
Let’s get to know these two backs a little better.
The Jets released Thomas Jones despite leading the league in rushing and helping the team get to the AFC Conference Championship game. Jones is no spring chicken beginning his 11th season in the league. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the body for a running back. In his final two seasons with the Jets, he had 2,714 yards on 621 carries for 27 TDs and 1 fumble. Those numbers are impressive and don’t even include the fact that he’s a great receiver too. During the ’08-’09 season, he had 36 receptions for 207 yards and 2 TDs.
To breakdown Jones’ ’09-’10 season, here’s a game by game look at his stats courtesy of Yahoo Sports.
|1||Sep 13||@ HOU||W 24-7||20||107||5.4||39||2||0||0||N/A||0||0|
|2||Sep 20||NWE||W 16-9||14||54||3.9||10||0||1||-1||-1.0||-1||0|
|3||Sep 27||TEN||W 24-17||14||20||1.4||5||0||1||2||2.0||2||0|
|4||Oct 4||@ NOR||L 10-24||13||48||3.7||15||1||0||0||N/A||0||0|
|5||Oct 12||@ MIA||L 27-31||13||42||3.2||8||2||0||0||N/A||0||0|
|6||Oct 18||BUF||L 13-16||22||210||9.5||71||1||2||17||8.5||10||0|
|7||Oct 25||@ OAK||W 38-0||26||121||4.7||26||1||1||3||3.0||3||0|
|8||Nov 1||MIA||L 25-30||27||102||3.8||11||0||1||28||28.0||28||0|
|9||Nov 8||@ JAC||L 21-24||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|10||Nov 15||JAC||L 22-24||21||77||3.7||14||1||0||0||N/A||0||0|
|11||Nov 22||@ NWE||L 14-31||21||103||4.9||15||0||0||0||N/A||0||0|
|12||Nov 29||CAR||W 17-6||25||75||3.0||16||1||3||11||3.7||10||0|
|13||Dec 3||@ BUF||W 19-13||23||109||4.7||29||0||0||0||N/A||0||0|
|14||Dec 13||@ TAM||W 26-3||23||99||4.3||33||2||1||-2||-2.0||-2||0|
|15||Dec 20||ATL||L 7-10||19||52||2.7||13||0||0||0||N/A||N/A||0|
|16||Dec 27||@ IND||W 29-15||23||105||4.6||29||1||0||0||N/A||N/A||0|
|17||Jan 3||CIN||W 37-0||27||78||2.9||9||2||0||0||N/A||N/A||0|
Notice that in the four games that Jones carried the ball 14 times or less, he averaged 41 yards per game. In the other 12 games when he carried the ball 19 times or more, he averaged 103 yards per game. Perhaps it takes a little time for the old engine to rev up. It’s also interesting to note that Jones is least productive in the 1st quarter of games. Last season, he had 80 carries for 204 yards in the 1st quarter. To put that in perspective, his next least productive quarter was the 3rd quarter where he rushed for 306 yards on 81 carries. Keep that in mind as we talk about Jamaal Charles.
Charles is entering his 3rd season in the NFL with much fresher legs than Jones. He exploded onto the scene last year after taking Larry Johnson’s place as the featured back in week 10. He had 1,120 yards on 190 carries for 7 TDs. That’s a 5.9 yards per carry average, and he carried the ball 190 times! The first nine games of the season, he had no more than 6 rushing attempts, but once he replaced Johnson, his career took off. In the last eight games of the season, he averaged 121 yards per game on about 20 carries per game. Like Jones, he’s also a great receiving back with 40 receptions for 297 yards last year. Charles is capable of breaking free for big (40+ yard) runs.
Charles compliments Jones’ style of running very nicely. Jones isn’t an every down back and he tends to get tripped up in the backfield dancing around complex defenses. Charles is an incredible outside runner while Jones pounds it inside. Charles will be the featured back, and Jones will most likely see his number of carries reduced if Charles stays injury free.
With that said, the Broncos run defense has a lot of work ahead dealing with these two backs in addition to keeping a watchful eye on Matt Cassel.
To give you an idea on the Chiefs offensive line, they gave up 45 sacks last year which was the 6th most in the league. In the off season, they acquired guard Ryan Lilja from the Colts which strengthens their interior. Branden Albert is consistently improving from year to year, Brian Waters is solid at left guard, but right tackle Ryan O’Callaghan is a weak spot on the line as is Randy Niswanger with some slow feet.
The Broncos front three is much better equipped to handle a good rushing team. Their size and experience are a plus, and they all come from legitimate AFC 3-4 defenses in San Diego, Baltimore, and New England. During the 8 games that Denver won last year, they held their opponent to under 100 yards rushing. I think the key to stopping the Chiefs run game is putting pressure on Jones in the backfield and having our quick outside linebackers anticipate Charles making the lateral move.
The Chiefs could easily lead the league in rushing, especially if Cassel steps up to the plate on game day.
There’s going to be a bloody battle when these teams meet in November and December, and I can’t wait! It just adds fuel to the already intense rivalry between the Broncos and Chiefs.
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