Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles has never caught more than 45 passes in a season. That may change this year.
New Chiefs coach Andy Reid loves getting running backs involved in the passing game and loves Charles’s skills as a receiver, and Reid sees big things from Charles this year. Reid said he sees Charles playing a role similar in his offense to the role that Brian Westbrook played when he caught 90 passes in a season playing for Reid in Philadelphia, or to the role LeSean McCoy played when he caught 78 passes in a season playing for Reid.
“Jamaal is a big part of it,” Reid said of the Chiefs’ passing game. “He’s capable of doing the same things Westbrook did [and] McCoy did, as far as the passing game. He’s a legitimate threat with his speed, his route-running ability and his hands. He catches the ball very easily.”
Charles said he’s doing so much work in the passing game that he’s barely even practicing at running back.
“I’m not even worrying about running right now,” Charles said. “We’re focused on getting the chemistry down with the quarterback. . . . It’s a lot of studying, a lot of focus, a lot of hearing what the quarterbacks are saying. I have to learn coverage, man, cover 2, and all that stuff learning to play wide receiver.”
None of that should take away from what Charles does running the football because Charles is one of the most electrifying runners in NFL history: Last year Charles surpassed Jim Brown as the NFL’s all-time leader in average yards per carry among running backs with at least 750 career carries. (Charles has averaged 5.8 yards a carry in his career; previously no running back had ever equaled Brown’s record of 5.2.) But if opposing defenses have to worry about Charles running up as a classic I-formation running back on one play and a wide receiver the next, that may help open up even more space for Charles to run the ball.
In any event, Reid knows his offense is in good hands when the ball is in Charles’s hands.