Sep 11, 2011; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) is congratulated by wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (82) after scoring a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Buffalo won the game 41-7. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Key To Chiefs' Offense: Bowe Or Charles?

It’s been said all offseason that Kansas City Chiefs runningback Jamaal Charles is the cornerstone of their offense. One year following a season-ending ACL tear, Charles posted the highest rushing total of his career (1,509 rushing yards). If not for the 2012 performances by Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson, Charles might’ve been the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.

When compared against Dwayne Bowe’s 2012 campaign, it would seem that the answer to the question is obvious. Bowe had just 3 touchdown catches last season (a career-low). It doesn’t help that he finished the season on injured reserve due to broken ribs. Bowe was sidelined with just three games remaining in the regular season. Over that stretch, Kansas City averaged just 97 passing yards per game and scored just 16 total points. Turns out that answering this question may not be so simple.

Charles seemed to be the lone spark for Kansas City’s offense in 2012. He had seven 100-yard games in fifteen starts. Bowe had only two 100-yard games and both came during the first quarter of the season. In fairness though, Bowe was handicapped by some of the worst quarterback play of his Chiefs tenure.

Conversely, Charles was able to produce when his unit was otherwise impotent. It was Charles’ 91-yard touchdown run against the New Orleans Saints that helped resuscitate the Chiefs (who trailed by 18 points at the time). They scored 21 unanswered points and went on to win the game in overtime. Advantage Jamaal Charles, right? Hold the phone.

Despite Charles finishing as the 4th-leading rusher in the NFL and the Chiefs having a top 5 ground game, the team still was still dead last in scoring. They didn’t fare any better in total offense (finishing 24th in the NFL). Make no mistake, a productive Jamaal Charles is important to this team’s success. He was instrumental in the two wins the Chiefs had in 2012. Charles amassed 360 rushing yards in those two contests (233 against New Orleans and 127 against Carolina). Still, the Chiefs were woefully one-dimensional.

Bowe’s a more important piece to the puzzle in my estimation. He is by far and away the best wide receiver the Kansas City Chiefs have and because of that, his success helps keep defenses honest. If Reid and company can’t achieve some offensive balance, Charles will be facing 8 men in the box on a regular basis. Look no further than the 2010 season. Bowe had a breakout year and led the NFL in touchdown receptions (15). It’s not coincidental that 2010 was also Charles’ best year in the league. He had nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage and scored 8 touchdowns.

Last week, Dwayne Bowe had this to say to Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star:

Charles is going to lead the league in rushing this year and I’m going to lead the league in receptions and touchdowns. When we get in full gear and pads and close to the season, it’s going to be a show to watch.

If Bowe’s right about his production, I suspect he’ll also be right about Charles. Having that kind of balance will keep defensive coordinators from loading up in run support or in coverage. All of this creates a confluence of positives: less predictable playcalling, a fresher Jamaal Charles, single coverage for Bowe (or other receivers), and a chance for Reid/Pederson to be creative offensively. I hope the both of them continue to play at high levels, but it’s Bowe’s success that I’m more concerned about. If only Charles is successful, Kansas City will have one of the most talented teams in the NFL that won’t qualify for the postseason again.

Until next time, Addicts!

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