As we near the halfway point of the 2013 NFL regular season, conversations about who should be in the running for the league’s most coveted individual award begin to heat up. The top performing quarterbacks in the league always lead the short list of candidates and deservedly so. However there are players at other positions that should be part of the conversation, one of them being Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles.
Charles in Charge
It’s no understatement to say that Charles is Kansas City’s offense. He not only leads the Chiefs in carries, rushing yards, receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, but the entire scheme of the offense runs through him. Charles’ ability to make catches out of the backfield is the only reason why Kansas City has been able to win all of its games despite its often putrid offensive line play. His tough running late in games has enabled the Chiefs to rest their defense, run out the clock and seal victories.
Charles is the first player since OJ Simpson in 1975 to have at least 100 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in each of his team’s first six games of the season. Charles’ 775 yards from scrimmage and 147 touches make him responsible for 40% of the Chiefs’ total offensive yards. No other running back, wide receiver or tight end in the NFL so far this year has accounted for such a big portion of his team’s production. Charles has also scored seven of Kansas City’s 12 offensive touchdowns.
Life without Charles
The most surefire way to tell a player’s importance to a team is to imagine what a team would be like without him. If Kansas City were to lose Charles to injury for any length of time, they would suffer greatly in all phases of the game. Charles’ backup Knile Davis, despite showing some flashes of qualities that could make him a serviceable NFL running back, is not yet anywhere near ready to assume the mantle of carrying the Chiefs’ offense that Charles totes. Davis is too prone to fumble and does not have the same ability to elude tacklers that Charles has.
If the criteria for a league MVP is a player on a winning team whom without his contributions that team would be significantly worse, nobody fits that description more than Charles. The Chiefs are 6-0 largely because of Charles and without him, their chances of winning another game this season would be much more slim.