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Jamaal Charles’ Impact On The Kansas City Chiefs

Jamaal Charles NFL Jack Kurzenknabe via Flickr


What is Jamaal Charles’ Impact on the Kansas City Chiefs?

In 2011, Jamaal Charles tore his ACL in his left knee after touching the ball just 17 times (12 att, 5 rec) over less than two games.  The Kansas City Chiefs went on to finish 7-9 that year, which was disappointing following a 10-6 season.

Once again, just last year, Charles tore his ACL in his right knee in his fifth game of the season, and the Chiefs started 1-5.  However, Kansas City went on to win 10 games in a row and finish 11-5 without Jamaal Charles.  Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West tag-teamed the backfield, and Kansas City finished sixth in team rushing yards and third in yards per attempt.

Charles signed a contract last year that made him the second-highest paid running back in the league, yet he has now had a torn ACL in each knee and his competitors have shown they can tote the rock.  Is Jamaal Charles worth both his salary and his injury risk?  In order to figure that out, I will be looking at his impact on Kansas City’s running back impact on rushing and receiving.


The Kansas City Chiefs, as a team, ran the ball very well.  As previously mentioned, last year, they were sixth in rushing yards and third in yards per attempt.  They were also tied for first in rushing touchdowns with 19.  In the 5 games Jamaal Charles played, he accumulated 71 rushing attempts, while through the rest of the season. Spencer Ware saw 72 attempts and Charcandrick West saw 160.

Over 71 rushing attempts, Charles had a ypc (yards per carry) of 5.1, which is a solid number.  Over his career, Charles has never had a season with a ypc of less than 5, which is very impressive considering that spans over five full seasons and 1,320 career rushing attempts.  He has also shown numerous times that he has elite speed and can rip off a big play at any time.  In 2010 and 2012, he had 10 and 11, respectively, runs of over 20 yards.  Charles has been a very productive runner for the Chiefs during his tenure.

Last year, once Charles went down, Spencer Ware and, mainly, Charcandrick West took over the backfield.  While West took most of the carriers, Ware was much more efficient.  West only averaged 4.0 ypc while Ware averaged 5.6.  The Chiefs lost 1.6 yards every time they gave the ball to West over Ware.  That is enormous and game-changing.

Even when Ware’s longest run of 52 yards is removed, he still averages 4.9 ypc, almost a whole yards better than West.  While it’s possible West got worn down by the double amount of carries he received compared to Ware, a yard per carry is a big number.  I generally disregard touchdowns for every position except quarterback because touchdowns mostly depend on team play calling, but Ware beat West 6 to 4 in that department, too.

However, Ware has not proven he can keep his fantastic ypc through more than season, let alone 5 seasons of around 200 carries like Jamaal Charles.  Charles has proven he can consistently carry a full team rushing load and average more than 5 ypc year in, year out.  While Spencer Ware looks lime a promising running back for the future, he simply has not proven he has the consistency of Jamaal Charles.


This is where Charles obliterates the other two Kansas City running backs.

Over his entire career, Charles has caught 283 passes for 2,443 yards and a 8.6 yards per reception (ypr).  For a couple seasons, Charles was the best receiver on the Chiefs.  In 2013, he caught 70 passes 693 yards and a 9.9 ypr.  Forget his team’s receivers, that is better than many receivers throughout the NFL.

Charles is clearly one of the best receiving running backs in the NFL, and Ware and West don’t do much to compete with him, either.  Last season, Ware averaged 0.8 ypr.  No, that is not a typo.  While West caught 20 balls for 214 yards and a 10.7 ypr, there is more to the story.  Once we remove his 80 yard receiving touchdown, his average drops to 7.0 ypr.  While that is still a solid number for a running back, it is neither what the raw stat show nor the kind of number Jamaal Charles would produce.

There is absolutely no competition here, as Jamaal Charles is clearly lightyears ahead of the other two Chiefs running backs in the receiving department.


While Charles is an injury risk considering that he has had an ACL tear in both of his knees, he is clearly well worth the price tag of being the second-highest paid back in the league.  He is one of the best receiving backs in the league and is a dynamic, yet consistent runner.  Ware is a promising runner, but he is a joke in the receiving department, and West cannot compete in either department.

Jamaal Charles is not only worth his price tag, he is miles ahead of the other two running backs in both main aspects of being a running back and has proven he provides a substantial, positive impact on the Chiefs.