Ready For One More … New Year’s Eve Cup O’Chiefs

Don’t ask Thomas Jones if Sunday’s game in Denver will be the last of his career.

“I don’t even want to answer those kinds of questions,” Jones said this week. “I have one game left in this season; I just want to focus on that.”

After 12 seasons, 179 games and 10,549 rushing yards, the 33-year old Jones knows that Father Time has been clocking him for the last year. His opportunities and his production headed south in the 2011 season, much as the Chiefs offensive production has dropped.

Against the Broncos in the season finale, Jones may get plenty of opportunities and a chance to lay down some production and change perceptions about him and where his career sits right now.

Jackie Battle is out; a foot injury suffered last Sunday against Oakland ending his season after 15 games. Only Jones and Dexter McCluster are left in the running back stable, along with fullback Le’Ron McClain.

In the last two games with Kyle Orton at quarterback, the Chiefs offensive game planners and play caller Bill Muir have gone to more plays out of the running game. In the season’s first 13 games, there was an average of 29.9 runs per game. In the last two weeks, that number has increased to 34.5 runs per game. With 139 and 135 yards in the last two games, those are two of the top five running days the Chiefs have enjoyed this season.

None of that figures to change for this Sunday’s game against the Broncos, a team that is ranked No. 25 in rushing yards allowed, giving up an average of 126.4 yards per game.

But can Jones handle the increased work load?

“I think he can,” said head coach Romeo Crennel. “How effective he’ll be is always determined on several things – his ability and the blockers ability. So if we can do a good job of blocking for him he usually does a good job of running when he can find the seam. Now if there are no seams, it’s hard for any runner to be effective.”

Jones hasn’t been very effective in the 2011 season. After 15 games, he’s averaging 3.2 yards per carry, with 138 runs for 436 yards. That 3.2-yard average is the lowest for a season in his 12 years playing in the league and he’s not scored a rushing touchdown, something that’s not happened in 11 previous seasons. Jones’ best performance was back in early October when he ran for 55 yards on 10 carries.

The change in offensive focus has brought him more work, as he’s averaged 13 carries for 49.5 yards over the last two games. That’s compared to an average of 8.6 and 25.9 yards in the first 13 games.

Add the 13 carries Jones has gotten with the 12 carries per game that Battle received the last two weeks and we’re talking about 25 carries per game. Does he have enough left in his tank to be able to handle that for one Sunday?

“I’m feeling good right now,” said Jones. “That’s really what I do. I’m a 20, 25 carry back. I train during the season for that purpose. Whatever they need me to do, I’m ready to do.”

Is Muir ready to call Jones’ number multiple times against Denver?

“The load has been shifted to him somewhat,” Muir said. “His body is not as old as the calendar says it should be. I don’t want to speak for him, but my sense is that he’s looking at it as ‘I don’t know how many more times I’m going to get to carry the ball so I’m going to make the most out of it that I can.’

“He certainly in what has been a down period for us offensively he’s kind of carried the flame. He’s gotten people excited about how he’s playing the game right now.”

So the future for Thomas Jones is now, Sunday in Denver against the Broncos. What comes after that?

“I’m not sure,” Jones said. “Nobody is sure about next year at this point. Everybody is trying to get through this week. This is the last game this team will play, the 2011 Chiefs. For me I’m trying to cherish every moment I have with my teammates and coaches and go into the game ready to play.”

9 Responses to “Ready For One More … New Year’s Eve Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 31, 2011  - Blake says:

    Sad to say but I kinda hope Sunday is the last day for Thomas Jones in a Chiefs uniform. He just hasn’t performed well and the leadership doesn’t show. I think we should just move on. I hope McClain gets a chance to carry the ball some more, he looks good when he runs the ball.

  • December 31, 2011  - el cid says:

    We need him to be the stud sunday. No Battle and if you only run McCluster out there the Denver defense will stay in pass coverage and let McCluster beat them running the ball.

  • December 31, 2011  - Tim says:

    This definitely should be his last hurrah. If it isn’t, his last days should not be with KC.

  • December 31, 2011  - Chuck says:

    Well you can be the judge on Thomas Jones. Thru 15 games this season he has carried the ball 138 times and gained 436 yards for a 3.2 carry average. He has ZERO touchdowns. I say its time for him to hang it up. One last stat for you stat guys. Thru 15 games the Chiefs have scored 19 touchdowns and their opponents have scored 38 touchdown. We are averaging 13.7 points per game. We truly need to address this ANEMIC OFFENSE in the draft and free agency.

  • December 31, 2011  - Michael says:

    Say what you want about Jones production this season. The offense has had issues period; not just him. There’s no question he has lost a step, or two, but he has looked a little fresher the last few games. Hopefully, he can have a good game vs Denver. His leadership doesn’t show? I think there is very little we as fans can say about a player’s leadership. That comes from their teammates and coaches, and if they believe in it that’s important for a team.

  • December 31, 2011  - ED J says:

    Hopefully Jones, Mcclain, and Mcluster have big days. We need improve oline in draft with about at least 3 picks going toward strengthing the o-line. A good and more experienced OC will help this offense more than anything.

  • December 31, 2011  - Michael says:

    I think you’re right, Ed. Maybe a high pick, one in the middle rounds, and one late. And then bring in lots of college FA’s. Actually, OT Mims from this year has a chance. I also thought they gave up on Butch Lewis too soon. Maybe they can get Gaither to come back now that Haley is gone-if Haley was the one who wanted him gone. He was working on a one-year deal, I think. All year, I was hoping to see an OL of Gaither, Ablert, Hudson, Asamouogh, Mims or Maneri. I knew it wouldn’t happen unless both Lilja and Wiegmann went out with injuries, and then Gaither was let loose. So much for that thought.

  • December 31, 2011  - brainsmasher says:

    Thomas Jones hasn’t lost a step to my eyes. He has run hard and been shifty all season. The holes have not been there. If he wants to return for another season there should be a roster spot for him.

  • December 31, 2011  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Agree on the O-line but not so much on three picks in the draft. At least one and possibly two. Free agencey is a better choice. That way you are getting more experince which is necessary. I can’t imagine a rookie having as much impact as we sorley need. First pick should be a QB, but Clark isn’t listening to me.

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