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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  • Patrick Allen

    The offense can still suck with Charles producing, as we saw last year, so I think Bowe is actually a bit more important. If Bowe is a terror than teams will have to back off a bit.

    The other thing I think the Chiefs need to do is give the damn ball to Charles in the red zone. He has an atrociously low number of touchdowns each season and it is because, for some reason, Haley and Romeo never wanted to give him the ball down there. Haley threw to D-Bowe, which worked pretty well in 2010.

    Pass it to him or hand it to him but if you are on the 5, give the ball to the guy that averages 6 yards per-carry.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I still think Charles will be underused in the red zone. The idea being that due to his size, he’s just not a good short-yardage back. I bet Knile Davis will get most of those RZ touches.

      • Kurt Rauch

        I imagine that what you say is true because of the ‘conventional thinking’ that you run between the tackles in the redzone while Charles is viewed as more of a perimeter threat. OC’s are loathe to risk losing any yardage in the RZ, so the ‘CT’ goes don’t run laterally…
        But, I think Charles is sold short in this regard. He is damn elusive and can maximize any daylight he finds wherever it is given. I say give him the ball anywhere and everywhere.

        • ArrowFan

          I seem to remember a guy named Allen that was small and shifty that seemed to have a way of finding the endzone when in the red zone.

          • KCMikeG

            True about Marcus and don’t forget Priest too!

          • Stacy D. Smith

            To be fair though, while not a big back, he’s was still bigger than Charles.

        • Justin Jones

          marcus allen 6’2 210 average Priest Holmes 5’9 213 average Jamaal Charles 5’11 200 average doesnt seem there is much difference to me. somewhere peoples idea of what a back should be has changed. Allen was good sized but priest and charles about the same

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Priest had a much thicker frame than Charles.

    • Suzi Conger

      Agree with you Patrick… that’s why I’m voting QB (ASmith) as the Key to
      KCC offensive success; DBowe can only be as successful and talented as his QB; as you know, DB was leaving the Chiefs until he heard that KCC obtained AS11 as QB (and AReid).

      I agree with JD, AReid, all the numerous Chiefs Teammates that AS is ‘Great’.

      Patrick, have you read and seen, “Breaking Down Alex Smith; From Doubter to Believer” ? A Great article…

      Seems like you would find it beneficial and appreciate the excellent information provided.

      Go Chiefs!!

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Bowe’s always succeeded in spite of his quarterbacks.

        • Suzi Conger

          So are you saying Stacy, that DBowe will perform equally with any and all QB’s? Depends on your definition of ‘success’ doesn’t it? Apparently your definition and DB’s definition are dif; he’s expressed positive achievable mega-goals since working with AS; “I’ve never worked with a QB like him”.. he’s been working with average QB’s and AS11 is far above average; excellent. GO CHIEFS!!

          • Stacy D. Smith

            He’s played at a high level with quarterbacks like Damon Huard, Matt Cassell, Brodie Croyle, Brady Quinn, Tyler Palko, and Kyle Orton throwing to him in years past. Can he be better with Smith at the helm? I think so. Just saying that he’s probably going to get his either way.

          • Suzi Conger

            Exactly! With Average QB’s at the helm, DB still performed well. That’s why he and AS have been so excited to work together; DB knows an excellent QB like AS is going to boost his game numbers.. And yet, the Chiefs’ appear to have more good ‘weapons’ this season. DB may have to share more plays this season than in the past.

  • chiefdeorty

    In my thinking it really is not either, it is Alex Smith and the offense cord. that will be the thing that is most important. Both Charles and Bowe will be fine they are good at what they do and will be a match up problem this year because our offense will be run a lot better. We have a lot of talent on this team and now we have the people that can see them for what they can do and the problems they can create for the opposing teams. This is going to be a good year I just sense it. Our defense will also be a very good D. and those Donkeys better take notice because they are going to loose at least one of our games.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Alex Smith is a quarterback. His importance to the offense goes without saying. Either way, a vote for Smith is still basically a vote for Bowe.

    • Suzi Conger

      I agree chiefdeorty, like your take. The key to Chiefs offense is the QB, AS11. JC or DB cannot showcase their talents without the excellent QB skills that Alex possesses. As an X-SF9er, I am well aware of AS’s mega talent. I enjoy hearing how much AS’s teammates like, respect and admire him as a person and a QB. GO CHIEFS!!

      • Stacy D. Smith

        The key to EVERY offense is the quarterback.
        Alex Smith was never one of the available options.
        We know he has to play well.

  • Lyle Graversen

    We’ve seen Charles and Bowe have good to great seasons and our offense as a whole still stunk because of the QB play. So I am following chiefdeorty’s lead and writing in Alex Smith as my vote. Now, if you ask me who could the Chiefs least afford to lose between Charles and Bowe, I think I’d go Charles but it is a close call.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      They’ve only had one season together where they’ve both gone for over 1,000 yards. That was 2010 when the Chiefs had a Top 15 offense.

      • KCMikeG

        With Cassel at QB. Enter Alex Smith!

        • Suzi Conger

          Exactly KCMikeG; I believe the key ingredient to Chief’s offensive ’13/’14 success is the QB, AS11. I also agree with all his KCC teammates, coaching staff, and JD that AS is ‘great’ . GO CHIEFS!!

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Great? What numbers support that claim?

    • Suzi Conger

      Agreed Lyle, ASmith is the key ingredient for Chief’s ’13/’14 offensive success.

  • KCPauly

    I vote for Baldwin, because if he can be an equal threat across from Bowe, then the rest is history….Go Chiefs!!!!!!!

  • ArrowFan

    They are both equaly important and they need each other to be sucsessfull and win games.

  • Jim Harper

    This goes way beyond these two. Our new TE’s and Avery, DMC, etc. This is going to be an extremely diversified offense that will be hard to defend and the attacks will come from everywhere! Alex is adept enough at reading defenses and checking down to the right play they will be fun to watch.

    • Suzi Conger

      Right on Jim :-) If there is a ‘key’ ingredient to Chief’s offense, I’m gonna vote for QB, Alex.

  • jimfromkcj

    I still subscribe to the theory that games are won in the trenchs. Without them playing well, neither Charles nor Bowe will be able to make any kind of difference. So my vote goes to the big uglies. If they jell and play at a consistent high level, every thing else will fall into place. What worries me is that I don’t see much difference between what we had last year and what we have this year in the trenchs. Yes we exchanged a few players, but I don’t see any big difference between Dorcey and DeVito and Fisher and Winston. Hope springs eternal, at least that is what we hear, so we can only set back and hope..

  • antony555

    We all know Jamaal is going to get his from the back field on some cases right next to Alex. But what exites me is the new ways big red has got in mind. Now if he is actually used like Welker has been with NE and now Manning I actually believe doing that will free up the offense to do thinks both players have the capability of doing quite well. We have had both for a good little while now and they have shown us what they can do with almost non- existent QB play but besides Alex we now have a head coach that thinks outside the box, as a result the passing lanes and running lanes should be wide open and don’t forget about Alex being far from the slowest QB in the league. The answer is Reid, Alex and all his weapons…