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Chiefs need multiple players to replace Charles

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The Sports Xchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Describing running back Jamaal Charles one of the best in football history, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid notes it will take several players to compensate for his loss.

“You know you’re not going to replace Jamaal,” Reid said Monday. “He’s one of the best, really when it’s all said and done one of the best in the history of the game.”

Charles underwent an MRI exam Monday on his right leg, which gave way in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears. Charles did not return and the Chiefs’ locker room was somber after the game as his teammates found out it appeared their teammate’s season was over.

“A guy like that and what he means to this team and the type of player he is,” said wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. “It’s all very unfortunate.”

Nobody knows that more than struggling quarterback Alex Smith.

“He’s involved in so much, always on the field,” said Smith. “He is not available, that matchup is not there. Jamaal means a lot, both on the field and in the locker room. No question, it’s tough.”

In five games, Charles produced 541 yards on 92 touches as a runner and receiver. He scored five touchdowns; that’s half of the Chiefs offensive scores and he accounted for more than 30 percent of the club’s yardage.

Those are the types of numbers that make it impossible to replace the contributions that Charles makes to Reid’s offense. Starting with their next game, visiting Minnesota to play the Vikings, the Chiefs will have to find a work around for their offense.

“You find out and exploit the strengths of those other players and that’s the challenge as a coach, to make sure you’re putting them in a good position to do that,” said the Chiefs head coach. “We’ve had some success at that position doing that.”

Candidates for handling the workload are Knile Davis and Charcandrick West on the active roster and Spencer Ware on the practice squad. Davis would seem to be the first man up, based on his production in his first two NFL seasons coming out of the University of Arkansas. He played in all 32 games, with 231 touches for 927 yards and 11 touchdowns. But through the first five games of the 2015 season, Davis (5-10, 227) has been bypassed by Reid when doling out opportunities with the offense. In the last four games, Davis has a total of 12 offensive snaps.

The opportunities at No. 2 back have gone to West (5-10, 205), in his second season out of Abilene Christian. He spelled Charles on 44 plays in the last three games. Ware (5-10, 229) was productive in the preseason, running for 66 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown.

Reid said he and his staff have great confidence in what Davis, West and Ware can bring to the offense.

“We have a lot of trust in Knile and he’s different though than what Jamaal was and what West is. So Jamaal and Charcandrick were closer together than what Knile was as far as the quick moves, you know the feet and dancing and all of that stuff,” said Reid. “Knile is going to pound you and he’s got real good speed to go with that. I think when you look at Spencer, he’s probably got a combination of that; he can play a power game but he’s also got enough elusiveness there.”

REPORT CARD VS. BEARS

PASSING OFFENSE: D. With a first-half lead, the Chiefs were able to keep the offense balanced for most of the game. The passing game left much to be desired, as quarterback Alex Smith completed just 53 percent of his throws (16 of 30) for just 6 yards per attempt. Smith was again forced to run for his life, as he was sacked three times and had to run from pass rush pressure on three other occasions. Tight end Travis Kelce had just three catches.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D. Losing Jamaal Charles for most of the second half and the rest of the 2015 season was a crushing blow for the Kansas City offense. But against the Bears, the Chiefs were able to average 4.7 yards on 25 carries. Other than a 15-yard run by Charles before he left with a torn ACL in his right knee, the longest run was 9 yards. What hurt the Chiefs efforts was in the fourth quarter, when they ran four times for just 6 yards.

PASS DEFENSE: F. For the better part of three quarters, the Chiefs kept Jay Cutler and the Bears passing game under wraps. They had good pressure on Cutler, sacking him twice and flushing him out of the pocket a half-dozen times. But late in the fourth quarter, when they held an 11-point lead, the pass defense could not contain the Bears. Cutler did not have his two best wide receivers and there was a rookie making his first NFL appearance at center, but he still picked the Chiefs secondary apart with big plays, two touchdown throws along with several defensive penalties.

RUSH DEFENSE: D. The Chiefs allowed 87 rushing yards as the Bears averaged 3.3 yards per carry. Most of those yards belonged to Matt Forte (18 for 71 yards), but his longest run was 10 yards. Chicago does not have a wealth of talent at running back, so they don’t produce much worry beyond Forte.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D. There are not many games where the Chiefs lose the kicking game competition, but that happened against Chicago. The game’s momentum turned on a blocked field goal by the Bears in the third quarter, as outside linebacker Pernell McPhee knocked down the 27-yard attempt from Cairo Santos. The Chiefs managed nothing in the return game, even against a kick coverage unit that came into the game as worst in the NFL. There was nothing special about this kicking game performance for the Chiefs.

COACHING: D. There have been a lot of similarities to the four consecutive losses the Chiefs have suffered, and Reid and his staff have not been able to stop the bleeding. They’ve dealt with injuries, but every team has that problem. Reid says he’s got a good team. If that’s true, there is an obvious disconnect between the roster and what is happening during games. Reid may have overestimated the talent on his roster.


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