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Options for Replacing Thomas Jones

First off, I should say that I’m not sure this will happen this year. Jones had a decent season, gaining nearly 900 yards from 245 carries (15 more than Charles got) and 6 touchdowns, but he obviously is no longer a dynamic runner. He only averaged 3.7 yards per carry and had only three gains of more than 20 yards in 2010. He is also 33, and is will be one year slower in 2011. Even if you love Jones, he’s only under contract through to the end of the year and we need to start looking to the future at the #2 spot.

And, although I know his purpose was to provide some veteran leadership and keep Jamaal Charles fresh, every one of those 245 carries took the ball out of Charles’ hands, who, by the way, rushed for 6.4 yards per carry this year. Charles numbers were ridiculous and probably unrepeatable, but I think the Chiefs should think about signing themselves a solid number two runner so that a Charles injury won’t cripple the team. And, this is likely to be a free agency year for that.

Get the goods after the jump.

Option #1 – Mike Tolbert: I would love to snatch this guy from the ‘Bolts. While still being the big physical runner that we would need in order to properly compliment Charles, he also still has the skill to be able to step in as a #1 back when needed. That’s exactly what he did for the Chargers this year racking up 11 touchdowns with 4.0 yards per carry. Plus, he’s 25, so the best may yet be to come. San Diego direly needs him to be resigned, although they don’t like opening up their wallets to keep their stars. On the other hand, the Chiefs are $34.3 million under the cap going into this year, and if they can use that to take away San Diego’s only proven runner and make KC’s rushing offense even more dominant, I’m cool with spending the money.

Option #2 – Vonta Leach: If we want a masher, this guy is the best. Signing him would allow us to cut down our dead weight in the fullback position because that is what he really specializes in. Not only would he be great for short yardage situations, he would make for a deadly piece of our run blocking. Primarily for his blocking ability he was named #65 in the NFL’s top 100 players this year.

Option #3 – Le’Ron McClain: McClain is basically a younger version of Vonta Leach at 26. He currently wants to go somewhere where he could get more rushes and he would probably love to form a rushing pair for the long term with Charles. Not to mention, every time his name would be mentioned we could all show “Yippie cayey (expletive)!”

Option #4 – Ronnie Brown: This actually be my favorite choice out of the bunch. He had a bad season with injuries last year, but was also running for a team that had serious problems in the middle of their O-line. People consider him to be an old player, but he’s actually only 29 and has proven consistency when healthy. Plus, he has great hands and was singlehandedly the reason why the wildcat came back — he’s smart and a good passer while still being a legitimate run threat. This is important.

One of the Jones’ biggest drawbacks is the fact that he is one-dimensional while most of the rest of the Chiefs’ weapons are versatile. Both Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster are dynamic whether rushing or receiving, but whenever Jones was on the field, there was little mystery as to how he was getting the ball. If even our power runner is a legit pass catcher and can run trick plays, we will be able to keep the opposing team guessing regardless of who we have in the backfield. Jones is a player for a 20th-century offense. The Chiefs are clearly looking to be creative and cutting edge.

I have a strong feeling that Jones will be kept for his veteran presence and because he knows the offense, but we all know he’s a stopgap and unlikely we’re going to be in the Super Bowl this year. So why not shoot for a Super Bowl next year?


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Tags: La'Ron McClain Mike Tolbert Ronnie Brown Thomas Jones Vonta Leach

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