Chiefs Film Room: The Bright Spot That Is Jamaal Charles


Here’s something I never would’ve thought I’d be saying heading into week five of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2015 season – I miss the offseason.

Specifically, I miss the feeling we as a fan base had heading into the season; the optimism around what our offense would look like, the talk of having an elite defense, and the dreams of the Chiefs being a team to be reckoned with. It was all quite intoxicating. Alas, we are here. A one win team that looks lethargic and is playing nothing like the group that showed so much promise just a year ago.

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But enough with all the negative, let’s talk about something on a more positive note. Let’s talk about Jamaal Charles. Ever since the debacle at the end of the Broncos game, Charles has been doing everything in his power to help turn this team around. Whether it be finding the end zone three times at Lambeau or contributing over 140 yards from scrimmage against the Bengals, one thing is certain: the guy is playing his heart out.

After biting the bullet and re-watching the Bengals tape, I gained a greater appreciation for how hard Charles works for every single one of those yards, as well as the numerous things he does that aren’t reflected in his stat line. You know the drill by now; to the film!

The first play I want to show demonstrates how Charles’ presence in of itself benefits this offense as a whole. This is a first down play when the Chiefs are down 14–3. The play-action to Charles causes the three Bengal linebackers to flow towards the line of scrimmage, opening up the throwing lane to Maclin running a slant.

The linebacker circled committed too much to stopping Charles and is unable to recover quickly enough to disrupt the pass. As we know, this play resulted in a monster gain for Maclin and the offense.

Obviously some of the credit has to go Andy Reid for the great play-call, but Charles deserves a ton of credit too. His presence in the backfield makes the play-action such an effective weapon for the Chiefs, even when they are down by 11 points and haven’t done any major damage with the ground game up to that point.

Another way Charles is able to aid this passing attack, outside of play-action and actually catching the ball, is with his pass-blocking.

Above, the Chiefs are running a play-action pass out of shotgun. After faking the handoff, Charles immediately recognizes Fisher has been beat by a speed rush and doubles back to help buy his quarterback more time.

Charles provides a good block and allows Alex Smith more time to find a receiver downfield (of course, it wasn’t a too much time since Fulton also ended up getting beat on the play, leading to an intentional grounding penalty).

Charles’ ability to recognize where his offensive line needs help in pass protection is an incredibly underrated aspect of his game, and is something even more valuable when you consider how poor this line has been in pass protection through four games.

Probably the aspect of Charles’ game I appreciate the most however, is the way he fights for every single yard he gains. When you watch the film, it is incredibly apparent that he maximizes the yardage gained each time he has the ball in his hands (part of the reason he is prone to fumbling at times).

Here is a play where Charles was lined up at receiver, and forced to catch a ball that is only a few inches of the ground when it reaches him. Jamaal being Jamaal, he makes the catch and is able to gain five yards, setting up a much more manageable third and seven.

The reason I highlight a play like this is because most running backs would let that throw hit the ground and leave the offense in a third and twelve, something we learned last week is a recipe for disaster. With Jamaal, he’s doing whatever he possibly can to put the offense in a position to succeed.

Let’s finish up with a classic Jamaal Charles run. Here, he gets the handoff out of shotgun and is met with a limited number of running lanes to say the least.

Bouncing it to the outside, Charles is immediately cut off when Kelce’s man disengages. Well I’m sure the defender thought he had cut off Charles…

He makes the defender whiff by stopping on a dime, like only a handful of backs can, and finds his way past the sticks for a first down. Watching him turn these types of plays into positive yardage is a bittersweet experience: on one hand you hate seeing Charles get minimal help from his offensive line, but on the other hand you get to see his incredible vision and athletic ability on full display.

If this film, and the last six seasons, have taught us anything about the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s that no matter how poorly this team is doing, no matter how pessimistic we are feeling about our playoff chances, #25 isn’t going to give up on this team – so neither should we.