Tale Of The Tape … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

If they had been around the 1920-30s when professional football took a backseat to baseball and college football, Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson would take off after the season was over and do a barnstorming tour around the country.

They would stage 100-meter races in every city and podunk village on either side of the Rockies. Fans would come from miles around to see the dreadlocked duo race to decide the fastest man in America.

Luckily for these two young men, the NFL is America’s past-time and while the whole nation does not yet know their whole stories, they have learned enough to know that Charles and Johnson are two of the best running backs in the game today.

And Sunday, their skills and speed will be on display at Arrowhead Stadium. It’s the Chiefs (9-5) hosting the Tennessee Titans (6-8) in game No. 16 of the season. Kickoff is 12 noon and yes, the CBS-TV broadcast will be on in the Kansas City area with Bill Macatee and Rich Gannon handling the microphones.

There’s a lot on the line in this game, especially for the Chiefs. They need to keep winning to grab the AFC West title and a spot in the playoffs. The Titans have not been mathematically eliminated, so they can dream a bit, but so many other teams have to lose to get them in it’s not much to hang a helmet on.

There are offensive weapons on these teams other than Charles and Johnson, but none are as likely to provide the big and fast punch as these two backs that came into the NFL together as part of the league’s Draft.

The Chiefs understand the task ahead of them. Stopping the run is the first goal in every one of coordinator Romeo Crennel’s game plans. Two years ago Johnson lit up the Chiefs defense, running for 168 yards on 18 carries including a 66-yard touchdown run that ended with him playing the bongos in the bad pit in the end zone. Those drums are no longer there, but that doesn’t mean he can’t duplicate the play with another long run. He has plenty of them in his career, going for more than 10 yards 119 times in his career, or once every 7.5 carries.

“He’s got that combination of speed and elusiveness that makes him tough to handle so we’re going to have to do a really good job, everybody across the board, because he stresses the whole defense, not just one position or one player,” said Crennel. “It’s the whole defense he stresses. We better do an excellent job.”

One very visible improvement in the Chiefs defense from the blowout loss to San Diego (207 rushing yards allowed) to the victory over St. Louis (69 rushing yards given up) was gang tackling. Against the Rams, the defense rallied to the ball and there were times that six or seven players were on top of the ball carrier helping to bring him down.

More of that, with a twist, is what the Chiefs need to deal with Johnson and his ability to turn every handoff into an offensive explosion.

“You have to chase and get to the football but you have to be disciplined in how you do it because you will see some phenomenal runs out of the guy that don’t end where they start,” said head coach Todd Haley. “I had a big tape put together that our entire team saw so that we could try to give good looks, that the show team could give good looks and we had a receiver playing running back to try to recreate the speed along with our other backs and really that’s part of the challenge when you play great, great players. Chris Johnson is obviously one of those great, great players in the league.”

Charles is working his way to that status as well. Since the midway point of the 2009 season when he became the starting halfback in the Chiefs offense, Charles has run for 2,271 yards in 22 games. Only Johnson topped that, running for 2,314 yards. They are the only NFL backs to top 2,000 yards in those 22 games.

Here’s how Charles and Johnson break down in comparison to each other.

Jamaal Charles

Tale of the Tape

Chris Johnson

RaShaad

Middle Name

Duan

12/27/1986

Birth Date

9/23/1985

23 years, 364 days

Age

25 years, 94 days

Port Arthur, TX

Hometown

Orlando, FL

Memorial

High School

Apopka/Olympia

5-11

Height

5-11

199

Weight

200

10.23

100 Meters

10.5

21.02

200 Meters

21.3

College Career

Texas

College

East Carolina

38/17

Played/Started

47/36

3,328

Rush Yards

2,982

533

Carries

624

6.2

Avg.

4.8

36

TDs

32

539

Rec. Yards

1,296

49

Catches

125

11.0

Avg.

10.4

3

TDs

10

4.38

40-yard dash

4.24

3.56

20-yard dash

2.41

1.53

10-yard dash

1.4

Rnd. #3, Pick 78

’08 NFL Draft

Rnd. #1, Pick #24

NFL Career

45/18

Games/Starts

45/44

2,780

Rush Yards

4501

460

Carries

891

6.0

Avg.

5.1

11

TD

34

984

Rec. Yards

957

106

Catches

131

9.3

Avg.

7.3

3

TD

3

77

10+ Runs

119

9/7

Fumbles/Lost

7/6

10

100+ Games

24

6-4

W/L at 100+

15-9

1,303

’10 Rush Yds

1,267

203

Carries

282

6.4

Avg.

4.5

4

TDs

11

415

’10 Rec. Yds

194

39

Catches

38

10.6

Avg.

5.1

1

TDs

0

506 of 1,303

Yds. After Contact

525 of 1,267

2

50+ Runs

1

9

20+ Runs

13

40

10+ Runs

34

12

Negative Runs

39

THE PICTURE FOR THE PLAYOFFS REMAINS CLEAR FOR THE CHIEFS & TITANS

“That word is officially banned,” Todd Haley said last week. “We are focused strictly on the Tennessee Titans.”

The word was “playoffs” and nobody around the Chiefs facility was talking about the post-season last week, especially the head coach.

“We have done a very good job of making progress throughout the year and we know that we are not there,” Haley said. “We made progress and I think one of the keys to us making progress has been our ability to stay focused on the task at hand. That has been a pretty strongly emphasized point that we are focused on this game.”

Talk of the playoffs is not verboten here, so let’s update the scenarios for both teams:

CHIEFS – The Chiefs lead the Chargers by one game and the Raiders by two games in the AFC West. They cannot clinch the division without help from another team. Two victories in the last two games will give them the division title. So does any one victory and a loss by the Chargers. The Raiders are hanging on and have to see the Chiefs and Chargers lose two games, while they win both of their games.

TITANS – At 6-8 it’s hard to believe they can still be involved in grabbing a line in the AFC tournament bracket. It’s a faint hope – the Titans must win both of their games and they must see the Colts and Jaguars lose both of theirs.


One Response to “Tale Of The Tape … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 26, 2010  - Zac says:

    As always, good read Bob. Appreciate you writing all this and having it out the day after xmas. Hope you had a great one.




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