Jamaal Charles proving he deserves more touches

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 1: Running back Jamaal Charles
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 1: Running back Jamaal Charles /

Denver Broncos running back Jamaal Charles has returned to his explosive form. He deserves more touches following the team’s bye week…

With veteran running backs Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, and Jamaal Charles (among others) all available this past offseason to a certain extent, it seemed a difficult decision faced any general manager looking to bring in a former star.

How would one of these guys handle being ‘second fiddle’?

Would any of them even be healthy enough to make an impact?

Specifically when dealing with Jamaal Charles, that last question was of paramount importance.

It was so critical, in fact, that Charles accepted a guarantee of only $100,000 when he initially signed with the Broncos, a figure that would increase based on whether or not he made the team, and how well he played throughout the season.

The list of bonuses in Charles’ contract is seemingly a mile long, but what it essentially boils down to is the more games Charles plays, and the better he plays in those games, the more money he makes from the Broncos.

The limit to his contract is up around $3.75 million with his base contract (per game) and incentives.

The Broncos need to start giving Charles more opportunities to earn those incentives, because he is absolutely a difference maker and looks like the ‘young’ Jamaal Charles.

Here’s Charles getting involved in the passing game after the Broncos converted on third-and-short and were called for holding:

That play right there is 14 yards and a first down.

Here’s Charles exploding through the line of scrimmage in the running game:

Now, the Broncos were likely keeping Charles on something of a pitch count in the first quarter of the season. He touched the ball a total of 36 times in four games, averaging nine touches per contest. He averaged 5.6 yards per touch, leading to 196 yards from scrimmage, including his first touchdown run of the season in week three against the Buffalo Bills.

Something else to monitor is the fact that Charles’ average per carry has gone up every single game since the start of the season:

Week one: 4.0 yards per carry.

Week two: 5.1 yards per carry.

Week three: 6.2 yards per carry.

Week four: 6.6 yards per carry.

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Charles is proving more and more that he deserves additional snaps and touches, and as the season progresses, I think we’ll see that more and more. Specifically, the Broncos need to be mindful of using Charles situationally. He’s not the guy who is going to come in and grind out tough yards to close out games, but maybe when you need a big first down late in the third or fourth quarter to keep some momentum on your side, let Charles run the ball outside, or at least leverage his being on the field for play-action.

When C.J. Anderson is in the game late, teams know that the Broncos are going to run between the tackles. It’s too predictable, leading to some recent late-game collapses by the offense.

You have to find other ways to execute in the later portion of games rather than just challenging a defense to match up with your big guys up front and say ‘let the best man win’.

That doesn’t work in today’s NFL. Teams are too smart, too fast, and too good for that.

Charles is a weapon, and the Broncos are still learning how to use him. Hopefully over the bye week, they come up with some plays and packages for the guy who — for so many years — absolutely shredded the rest of the AFC West.