Predicting the Legacy of Jamaal Charles

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I believe by the time Jamaal Charles retires, the discussion should be had as to whether or not he is the best Chief of all time

You’re probably thinking, that’s it? Calling Jamaal Charles the best back to ever play for the Chiefs is hardly revolutionary. That’s why I want to take this a step further. I believe by the time Jamaal Charles retires, the discussion should be had as to whether or not he is the best Chief of all time. Sure, the competition is stiff: Derrick Thomas, Len Dawson, Buck Buchanan, and Tony Gonzalez are just a few of the Chiefs greats. How can one elusive back from the University of Texas compete against the greats of the Chiefs past? Well, let’s look at the ongoing career Jamaal has put together:

Dec. 9, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) runs the ball on the first play of the game for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Drafted in 2008 in the third round by Kansas City, Jamaal’s career started with a whimper, rather than a bang. When Jamaal came to town, Larry Johnson was still the feature back in Kansas City, and Jamaal was expected to sit bench as the third string player behind Johnson and Kolby Smith. During his rookie campaign, Jamaal only managed 357 yards with no touchdowns. More impressively, Jamaal managed this with only 67 touches (5.3 Yards-Per-Carry Average). This was an early glimpse at what may end up being Jamaal’s everlasting legacy in the league as a whole: his fantastic YPC average statistic.

Jamaal continued in this role until week 9 of the 2009 NFL season, when Larry Johnson

outed himself as a jerk face

belittled a fan on twitter, resulting in his immediate release. Jamaal was promoted to first-string where he would split time with Kolby Smith. Despite this, and only starting for less than half of the season, Jamaal was impressive, compiling 1,120 yards on for a 5.9 yards-per-carry average. This is where Jamaal hit the gas, and he hasn’t looked back since.

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I’m sure we all remember the 2010 campaign, where behind Jamaal Charles the team won the AFC West for only the second time in ten years. Charles was STELLAR. Charles showed great strides in every aspect of his game, setting career highs in attempts (230) and yards (1,467) while averaging an unbelievable 6.38 yards-per-carry. Charles spent the season chasing Jim Brown’s reigning record 6.4 YPC average for a single season set in 1963, and he would’ve beaten the record too, were it not for a stingy Baltimore Ravens defense that ripped the title away from him in Charles’ first playoff appearance.

Sadly it began to look like that may have been the best Charles could hope to ever achieve, after tearing his ACL in the second game of the 2011 season. Jamaal’s lost season left a lot of questions up in the air regarding his recovery and whether or not he would retain the spark he had before the injury.

This was all put to rest in 2012. Jamaal came back stronger than ever, and despite being a part of a Chiefs team that barely managed a 2-14 season, Charles mustered up impressive numbers, setting new career bests in attempts (285) and rushing yardage (1,509). All of this came AFTER tearing his ACL. Jamaal heard his critics question his strength and ability coming off of an injury and responded by running rampant.

With the arrival of Reid, Jamaal became an assault rifle, a missile, a freaking force of nature

Even so, critics again questioned how effective Jamaal would be in 2013 with new head coach Andy Reid, known for a pass-first offense in Philadelphia. Many were concerned that Reid would misuse Jamaal Charles, not giving the Chiefs greatest offensive weapon a chance to shine. They were wrong. Dead wrong. If Jamaal Charles was an offensive weapon for the Chiefs before Reid arrived in Kansas City, he was small arms; a handgun. With the arrival of Reid, Jamaal became an assault rifle, a missile, a freaking force of nature. We all know the statistics; Jamaal carried the ball 259 times for 1,287 yards on the ground, while simultaneously gaining a personal best 693 yards through the air. Andy Reid gave Jamaal wings, and Jamaal took flight. Just watch these 2013 season highlights:

Jamaal accounted for a staggering 35.3% of all the Chiefs yards from scrimmage in 2013. That’s almost unheard of. Jamaal scored a career best 19 touchdowns and led his team in receptions as well as rushing attempts. To put it simply, Jamaal Charles WAS the offense of a team that went 11-5 and earned a wildcard playoff berth. That’s more than impressive, that’s flabbergasting. He is that significant of a player for Kansas City. And even though the 2014 season started rough for Jamaal, with him only rushing 9 times through three games, Jamaal looks to regain the title as his team’s lead scorer, accounting for three of the Chiefs four offensive touchdowns Monday Night. On a night when one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time came to town, the most effective offensive player on the field was our very own Jamaal Charles.

To recap, in his seven years in Kansas City, Jamaal Charles has consistently improved upon his game, even after tearing his ACL, to the point where he literally amounted to a third of everything the Chiefs managed to do offensively in 2013. Even more impressive, if Jamaal retired tomorrow, he would become the NFL record holder for career yards-per-carry average with a superhuman 5.6 ypc. He represents this team. He is the face of our franchise. He is a fan favorite, an excellent teammate, a hell of an athlete, and the best part is he’s not even close to done.

Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

From his modest beginnings in 2008 as a backup to his status now as the heart and soul of a team that will look to compete for a championship for the first time since Super Bowl IV, Jamaal Charles has demonstrated that he is perhaps the most explosive, driven, and exciting player to ever don Chiefs red. Enjoy Jamaal while we have him folks, because I firmly believe that when Jamaal calls it quits, we’ll be saying goodbye to the best Chief of all time. That will be his legacy.