I am a big fan of Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley but his depth chart disrespect of RB Jamaal Charles has got to stop.
Since Haley has arrived in Kansas City, he has continuously placed lesser backs ahead of Jamaal Charles on the depth chart.
In year one, it was a washed up Larry Johnson. That move, at least initially, can be forgiven. Johnson was an established back and Charles was an unknown quantity. Once the season began, however, it became clear that Johnson was finished and that Charles was the better back. Still, Haley just kept feeding Johnson the rock over and over again. It took not poor play but a homophobic Twitter tirade before Johnson was finally jettisoned from Kansas City. Until then, he was still the starter. For eight weeks.
In 2010, despite once again being the team’s best back,Charles sat behind Thomas Jones on the depth chart. He never complained, save for one quote early in the season when he declared that he was the backup and that he accepted that. By the time the season was over, Charles had turned in the second most productive season ever for a running back receiving over 200 carries. He was second in the league in rushing with only 230 carries. Pretty impressive for a backup.
Now the first depth chart of the 2011 season has been released and once again Thomas Jones is listed as the team’s #1 RB. Jamal Charles is still #2.
This is simply ridiculous and it has to stop.
I am not arguing for a massive increase in touches for Charles. I think the Chiefs are doing the right thing by carefully managing his touches. A back his size needs to be handled with care so that he can continue to be productive. There need to be other backs on the team to receive carries, spell Charles and share some of the beating. Those backs just need to be behind Charles on the depth chart.
There is no correlation between a RB’s position on the depth chart and the number of carries he receives in a game. There is no NFL rule that says that if you put a guy first on the depth chart he has to receive 30 carries a game. All that being #1 on the depth chart means is that the player is the starter. He is the best at his position. He is the guy who should touch the ball first and last. He’s the man.
Jamaal Charles is not only the best RB on the team, he is the best PLAYER on the team. It isn’t even close. The Chiefs have good players in Cassel, Bowe, Flowers but Charles can score a TD any time he touches the ball. He is one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the NFL. Hell, Charles has a solid argument for being the best RB in the NFL.
Being #2 on the depth chart doesn’t make Charles any less dangerous on the field but it has to be insulting to him personally. It would be insulting to anyone. Jamaal Charles has earned the respect that comes along with being #1 on the depth chart…yet for some unknown reason, Todd Haley refuses to give him that respect.
And don’t give me any crap about Haley using the depth chart to “motivate” Charles. That is bull. Charles was awesome in 2009 and he was awesome in 2010 and it wasn’t because he was #2 on the depth chart. It wasn’t because he was running with a “chip on his shoulder.”* It was because he is really good. Period. Haley isn’t a witch-doctor with a Jamaal Charles voodoo doll. He’s a surly football coach in need of a haircut and more frequent showers.
*I hated when people used to say Larry Johnson ran with a “chip on his shoulder.” I hated it even more when Larry started to suck and people said he needed to “run with a chip on his shoulder again.” That is bullshit. Dick Vermeil said Larry needed to “take the diapers off” because he knew Larry was a whiny ass punk. He was right. Larry Johnson ran well when he got his chance not because of anything Vermeil said and not because he had a chip on his shoulder. He ran well because he was running behind one of the best offensive lines ever. When that offensive line went away, so did Larry.
Jamaal doesn’t need any BS motivation. He is a professional athlete. When he gets out on the field and a linebacker is charging for him, do you think he thinks to himself “Oh no. I can’t juke out this LB. I’m going to get tackled…wait a minute. I’m #2 on the depth chart. I have something to prove. That means I have more magical juking powers at my disposal than if I was #1 on the depth chart. I can do it! Thanks coach Haley!”
Hell no! Charles just goes out there and reacts and reacts well.
However, what might run through Jamaal’s head, when he isn’t on the field, is that the Todd Haley doesn’t respect him. Since Todd Haley is the head-coach, maybe Charles will start to think that the organization doesn’t respect him. Maybe he’ll take a hard look at his contract and realize the team is getting him at a ridiculous bargain. Maybe after another year of being the team’s best back but second on the depth chart, he’ll decide to hold out until he gets some respect in the form of financial compensation.
Jamaal Charles has earned the #1 spot on the RB depth chart on not only the Chiefs, but pretty much every team in the league.
And he is damn sure better than Thomas Jones.
It is time for the Chiefs and Todd Haley to stop playing games. It is time to give Jamaal Charles the respect he has earned.