Spencer Ware can be a monster truck of a running back

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18: Running back Spencer Ware
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18: Running back Spencer Ware /

The Kansas City Chiefs could enjoy a resurgent ground game in 2017 if Spencer Ware can stay healthy down the stretch.

The loss of Jamaal Charles and the addition of Kareem Hunt in the Kansas City Chiefs backfield can make it rather easy to gloss over the contributions of Spencer Ware. Everyone is certainly aware that he’s going to be a part of the backfield rotation moving forward, but what might not be clear is that Ware himself is a special talent, a running back that hardly ever loses yards and can create them even after a defender has made contact.

That sort of power, focus and determination is what can make the difference between a loss and  positive yardage or between coming up just short and making a first down. Had Ware finished as strong as he started, we’d likely refer to Hunt in the same way we discuss Patrick Mahomes, knowing the quarterback will largely sit and learn in 2017. We never speak of Hunt in the same way because Ware faded down the stretch and the Chiefs running game looked weaker than fans are used to.

The reality is that Ware began the year with a tremendous effort against the San Diego Chargers in a season-opening win that turned heads and set a franchise record for biggest comeback. The hero was Ware who had 199 total yards from scrimmage. Five weeks later, he rushed for 131 yards in a road victory over the Oakland Raiders. In between those games, he showed himself capable as a dual offensive threat, both as a runner and catching passes out of the backfield. And then it was over.

In a win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7, Ware had only 7 carries for 19 rushing yards and it was a turning point on the season. Ware never again reached 100 total yards from scrimmage for the rest of the season, and even in a close playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ware had only 8 carries (for 35 yards). It’s odd that he was used so sparingly in that final loss, but also confusing why he hit a midseason wall. Perhaps it’s because he’d never had so many carries before in his short NFL career. Or maybe there were lingering injuries that went unreported, like so many players undoubtedly face week after week.

No matter the reason, Ware will hopefully stay healthier this season and be able to help reverse course on the Chiefs rushing game all year long. The offensive line is healthy and playing together as a complete unit once again. Kareem Hunt is also here to help ease the burden and add another dimension as a well-rounded asset in the backfield. Together they might give the Chiefs a tandem fans haven’t seen since Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.