Missing Jamaal As Run Game Fizzles

From Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California

It was going to be a four-man committee stepping in and filling the void in the Chiefs’ offense left by the season ending knee injury of Jamaal Charles.

The job was too big for one man so it would be Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster, Jackie Battle and FB Le’Ron McClain all working together.

So how was Week No. 1 A.J. – After Jamaal? Not so good. It might be time to go back to the drawing board.

Those four backs, along with a one-yard run from QB Matt Cassel had 27 carries for 81 yards, a paltry 3-yard per carry average. Only one run went for more than 10 yards – a 16-yard run by McCluster. Only two runs went for more than five yards.

Here’s the chronology of the running yardage:

  • First quarter – 0, 4, 2, 4 = 4 carries for 10 yards.
  • Second quarter – 4, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1 = 6 carries for 11 yards.
  • Third quarter – 4, 3, 0, 10, 16, 9, 0, 2, 2, 2, 0, 6 = 12 carries for 54 yards.
  • Fourth quarter – 2, 3, -1, 3, -1 = 5 carries for 6 yards.

McCluster finished as the team’s leading rusher with 45 yards on nine carries. Jones got most of the work at 14 carries for 31 yards. Battle carried once for two yards. McClain carried twice for two yards. Combine the receiving yardage for McCluster, Jones and Battle and the backfield produced 102 yards in total offense. Divide that number by four and that’s puny production.

The only point in the game where the Chiefs were able to run the ball was coming out of the locker room at half-time. On their second possession of the period, McCluster carried on four straight plays 35 yards. It was all part of an 18-play drive that ended only with a field goal from Ryan Succop.

“We had to get first downs, we had to stay on the field,” said McCluster of the Chiefs attitude coming out of the locker room at half-time. “We don’t want our defense to get tired. Coming out in the third quarter, we wanted to go out there, stay out there, we wanted to drive and we wanted to make a statement.”

Offensive coordinator Bill Muir used all sorts of combinations with his backs. Most of the alignments included two backs, rather than one. It was Jones and McClain, then McCluster and McClain, plays with Jones and McCluster and then Battle with Jones and Battle with McClain. For the first time this season, the Chiefs used three tight end plays with OT Jared Gaither coming into the game as an eligible receiver. When TE Anthony Becht went down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, Gaither came in for two tight end plays.

None of that worked in the first half, when the Chiefs couldn’t buy a first down. It finally started working in the second half. That’s a momentum the offense hopes to carry over into this Sunday’s game against Minnesota.

“I thought we battled in all three phases of the game,” said Cassel. “That’s the type of football that we’re going to have to play. It might not always be pretty, but at the same time we had an opportunity to possibly tie up the football game and win it.

“As we move forward we can build off this game.”

4 Responses to “Missing Jamaal As Run Game Fizzles”

  • September 26, 2011  - Milkman says:

    Anyone else get frustrated with the play calling the first two and a half quarters? I know they were trying to set an identity, but c’mon man! Are they so afraid to let Cassel throw the ball down field they have to dink and dunk for almost an entire game? The only reason they were close enough to have a chance to win it at the end was the defense. McCluster has the heart of a champion, but if they continue to lean on him they will surely be dissappointed cause he is simply too small to withstand a big workload. It was good to see some fight out of these guys though.

  • September 26, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    McClain and McCluster. Big and Little Mac. That’s the backfield.

  • September 26, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    That’s good Tenand6 . Big Mac and the Little Mac happy meal package. I agree we should try more of that combo. Of course it won’t matter who we have back there if the line doesn’t solidify and open some holes.

  • September 26, 2011  - leonard says:

    Big Mac, and Little Mac. Now that is great. The big problem that I see is that when Jones is in, they always, always run up the middle. There were not many holes in the middle. The O line has to do a better job of opening lanes for Jones. Man if the can get McCluster in the open field, he sure is quick. How about him in the slot.

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