Jamaal Charles needs to be the focus in 2015

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Kansas City is likely to need that run production as it is set to play eight games against teams whose passing defense was in the top 10 of the league last year (Green Bay, San Diego twice, Cleveland, Denver twice, Minnesota, and Buffalo). So even if all the units involved in the passing game come together as we all hope they do, they are still going to have to spend half of the season playing against what should be some stiff competition when throwing the ball. And you may notice that the above list does not include the Houston Texans, which happens to have a pretty good pass-rusher named J.J. Watt.

Kansas City’s opponents are not set to be a cake walk in the run game either, as they include six games against rushing defenses that ranked in the top ten of the NFL in 2014 (Houston, Pittsburgh, Denver twice, Detroit, and Baltimore). But the opponents are at least less daunting against the run. Those six games against top run defenses are balanced by playing eight games against opponents who ranked 20th or worse against the run last season (Green Bay, San Diego twice, Oakland twice, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minnesota).

If you look closely, you will notice that there are only two teams on Kansas City’s schedule who were ranked in the top ten passing defense last year and were not also ranked in the bottom part of the league in rushing defense. So if these teams are anything like they were last season, then whoever is able to establish a run game should have greater success against them. And who better to establish a run game with than Charles?

Remember those impressive stats Charles put up from last season? When you take out a 2011 campaign that saw him play in only two games, you find that those numbers were some of the worst in his career. Beyond injury, I believe much of that had to do with head coach Andy Reid’s repeated reluctance to use his best offensive weapon. It made very little sense, and even led Reid to publicly apologize for giving Charles only a handful of touches in the second half of a game in Week 5 last year against the San Francisco 49ers.

How much better could Kansas City have been last year if only Charles had been utilized properly? Even with injury and misuse, he was still one of the top running backs in the league.

When you put it all together, you find that Kansas City has a passing game with several unknown factors and a schedule that is likely to be filled with opponents who have stout passing defenses.  They also have a 28-year-old running back who may be the only unquestionably elite players on the offense, and go up against a number of teams who appear weaker against the run.

NFL seasons have a way of turning out differently that what we think they will in the summer. But as I see things now, there is no reason why Charles should not be the focus of the offense.


Stats from ESPN.com and profootballreference.com