Earlier in the year, I took a lot of heat for writing about my concern over the way the Chiefs were handling the Jamaal Charles/Thomas Jones carry distribution. I suggested that even though the Chiefs were winning, I feared that eventually giving Jones more carries than Charles would backfire and cost the Chiefs a game. I was accused of only wanting to write negative things about the Chiefs. Some accused me of trying to fill the void left in the Kansas City media by the departure of Jason Whitlock. Some even outright insulted me.
As the season wore on, I softened my stance a little. The Chiefs were running the ball like nobody’s business no matter who they handed the ball off to. Sure, Charles was still more productive than Jones but Jones was doing a fine job and if they kept Charles fresh, that was fine by me. I even admitted to my buddy Marshal that I might have been wrong about my early criticism of the way Haley was handling the carry split. When he asked me what changed my mind I said “Well, I mean it’s working. If they both can continue to be this productive and the team continues to run for 150 or 200 yards a game I can’t really complain about how they distribute the carries. But the game that concerns me is the Browns game. It was clear in that game that Jones wasn’t getting it done and Haley refused to admit that fact and try Charles. I’m worried about that happening again.”
Now that it has led to a loss, folks are going bonkers in the comments talking about how stupid it was of the coaching staff to keep giving the ball to Jones when it obviously wasn’t working. Yet I was called a fool for saying after the Chargers and Browns victories that the Chiefs could have made things a lot easier on themselves by just giving the ball to Charles a few more times than they gave it to Jones. It was said I was merely trying to “stir up controversy.”
I hope those of you who gave me crap can now appreciate where I was coming from. That being said, I not THAT upset with Sunday’s Jamaal Charles/Thomas Jones carry distribution.
I don’t know if the carry distribution cost the Chiefs Sunday’s game against the Raiders. For all I know, giving Jamaal Charles five more carries might not have made a difference at all. The Raiders were playing man coverage with both safeties in the box for run support and that, combined with having to deal with Richard Seymour, was the most resistance the Chiefs had faced in the running game all year.
In fact, the Chiefs did give Charles a decent workload. Jones got 19 touches and Jamaal Charles got 15. The problem of course, is that Jones only accounted for 32 yards while Charles brought in 100.
At his press conference yesterday, Haley gave a few clues as to why Charles received only 10 touches on the ground.
“He had more yards per carry but that being said, it is an 11-man effort,” said Haley. “We’re making calls at the line going from right to left, left to right, pass to run, run to pass and there are a lot of things that factor into it. On the carry question, you have some plays that are passes that become runs that you don’t know for sure what’s going to happen. It’s just one of those things that you can’t entirely control other than just putting somebody in the game and leaving them in the game and even that you can’t control because Jamaal’s been fighting through a couple different issues. I have to take my hat off to Jamaal because he’s shown a lot of toughness and fight to get back on the field but there are times that he has to come off and that’s as much his decision as it is anybody else’s.”
Haley seems to be indicating a couple of things here. For one, it appears that the Chiefs were calling a lot of audibles based on the defensive looks they were getting from the Raiders. That could mean that a few plays that were designed to be runs with Charles, ended up being passes. Haley also appears to be indicating that Charles is fighting through some injury issues and that he took himself off the field a couple of times.
At this point I don’t have that big of a problem with the carry/touch distribution. Jones has, for the most part, been productive and this game was likely more of an outlier than an indication of things to come. I do think that Haley needs to do a better job of recognizing when a strategy isn’t working. Regardless of what the Raiders were doing defensively, Haley needs to have a coach in his ear saying, “Listen coach, they are shutting down TJ and Jamaal is way more productive. We have to get the ball in Jamaal’s hands more.”
That being said, Haley thinks and I agree, that what got the Chiefs beat wasn’t the carry distribution but missed opportunities and mistakes.
“The bottom line for our team and trying to become a good team, which we are going to do, is we just have to tighten things up and we can’t allow ourselves to get into a game like that and allow things to happen that occurred in that game,” said Haley. “That is what got us beat. Penalties, allowing big play, which were preventable, turnovers in the Red Zone, allowing returns for a touchdown, having a penalty on a return for a touchdown for ourselves, that return occurred when it’s 10-0. The score’s going to be 17-0 if we’re just a little smarter.”
He is right. The Chiefs made a bundle of mistakes and they still nearly won the game. Games like this one are going to happen but if the Chiefs can tighten up their ship they should be able to rebound nicely in Denver.