Has a player ever in the history of sports put up as many historical records as Jamaal Charles has in his three year career, and still be so unknown and so under the radar. Let’s take a look at what Jamaal Charles
has done so far in his short career.
In 2009, Jamaal Charles finished the season with the highest yards per carry in the league for anyone running back with 120 carries or over, and became the only player in NFL history to rush for 1,100 or more yards with 200 or fewer carries. He also became the only player in NFL history to take over as a starter halfway through the season and double the ypc of the player he replaced. Jamaal Charles averaged 5.9 ypc compared to Larry Johnson’s 2.9.
In 2010, Jamaal Charles averaged 6.38 ypc, which is the second highest ypc in history behind Jim Brown’s 6.4. He also become the only player in NFL history to finish second in the league in rushing yards and not even lead his own team in rushing attempts. Charles only had 230 attempts this past season compared to Jones’ 245 attempts. Despite Jones having more attempts, Jones only rushed for 896 yards this year compare to Charles 1496 yards, because Jones only averaged 3.7 ypc.
As of right now, Jamaal Charles has the highest career ypc for any running back in NFL history with a minimum of 200 carries.
What’s most amazing about Charles is that he defies the common assumption that an offensive line makes the running back. In most systems in the NFL, the ypc discrepancy between running backs on the same team is relatively close to each other. In the Last two years, Charles ypc compared to the other running backs on his team has been off the charts. His 3.0 ypc advantage in 2009 and his 2.7 ypc advantage in 2010 is proof that if a running back is great enough, he can make that much of a difference. Charles’ ypc advantage, considering how many carries he and his teammates have gotten, is something that we haven’t and may never see again.
From the moment I saw Charles play, I knew he had an amazing talent, and I even wrote an article after the 2009 season claiming that Jamaal Charles could be better than Titans RB Chris Johnson. At the time, most people laughed at me, and what’s scares is me is that if I wrote that now, they would still laugh. The question that needs to be answered however is why is Jamaal Charles still so under the radar?
The first obvious reason why he is underrated is because he plays in Kansas City. Players in Kansas City lack the exposure that big city players get and often get under-appreciated, which we saw in the hall of fame voting for the late great Derrick Thomas for many years, and most recently this year for Willie Roaf, who I could make a case for as the greatest offensive tackle ever.
However, playing in Kansas City is not the sole reason for this as his lack of carries, especially goal line carries, hurts his credentials. The reality is that with Jamaal Charles amazing ypc, a 2000 yard season or something close to that is very probable with more carries. A lot of fans and even experts overvalue yards in a season and undervalue yards per carry. Thus if Charles put up a more historical single season rushing yard mark, fans would quickly know who he is, just as they knew who Chris Johnson was after he ran for over 2000 yards.
The other reason is because Charles, who actually is a more efficient goal line rusher than Thomas Jones, isn’t given many goal line carries. Many fans and experts overvalue rushing touchdowns when the truth is that rushing touchdowns are often more of a production of opportunity and situation rather than anything else. If Charles was given more or even most of the goal line carries that most feature running backs get, his stats would be much more appealing and noticeable to everyone.
Sadly though, it doesn’t seem as though Chiefs Coach Todd Haley wants to give Charles a more featured role in the offense. One theory is that Haley is doing this to not ware out Charles, because of the tendency for running back’s careers to be shortened by an overload of carries as well as Haley wanting him to be fresh at the end of the season. But if Haley wants Charles to become that next great running back, he’s going to have to unleash him, and stop holding him back. Because at the end of the day, he’s only holding his team back.
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