Kansas City, Mo. There is no prescribed number of plays that Chiefs coach Andy Reid would like the ball to end up in the hands of Jamaal Charles, one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL.
One thing Reid does know is that Kansas City would be better off if Charles got the ball more than the six times he did in the second half of Sunday’s loss to Indianapolis. Or if he didn’t seem to stray from giving him touches at the end of close games.
“Obviously, 25 didn’t touch the ball much in the second half and that’s my responsibility,” said Reid, who has a well-worn reputation for favoring the pass over the run. “Within the realm of things, the 28 plays in the second half, we need to give him more of a shot than six touches.”
Chiefs fans tend to agree. So do fantasy football owners.
It’s not as if Charles didn’t have another solid afternoon in a 23-7 loss. He ran for 106 yards and a touchdown, and caught five passes for 38 yards. But when the offense got stuck in the second half, it seemed Reid completely abandoned the run — even though it seemed to be working just fine.
And even though Charles scored five touchdowns the previous week against Oakland, albeit four on receptions.
Charles carried eight times for 62 yards in the first half Sunday, including a 31-yard run for the Chiefs’ only touchdown. He had just five carries in the second half, while the Colts were in the midst of scoring 23 straight points, despite averaging nearly 9 yards per carry.
“We were still in it the second half, but we were put in a position where we had to throw the ball a little bit,” Reid said. “We had a couple routes that were set up for him and the coverage didn’t present itself where we could use him in those, and a few options where the quarterback could keep it, and the front presented itself where he didn’t get the touch.”
It’s true, and that may explain why Charles got so few opportunities against a Colts defense he was gashing. Yet in a pair of losses to Denver and a second-half collapse against San Diego, the Chiefs’ opponent this Sunday, the same story seemed to play out.
Charles had 16 carries for 78 yards in a road loss to Denver, but only six attempts in the second half, when the Broncos sealed a 27-17 victory. He only had eight tries in the second half of a 41-38 loss to San Diego the following week, even though he gained 83 yards on them — for the mathematically challenged, an average of better than 10 yards per tote.
In the return game against the Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium, Charles again had eight carries in the second half, even though Kansas City was trying to protect a 21-14 halftime lead.
When the Chiefs were driving for a tying touchdown in the closing minutes, they ran 10 plays and none involved Charles. Four of those plays came after first-and-10 at the Denver 13, when the Chiefs elected to throw the ball despite having plenty of time on the clock.
“He’s a very good football player,” Reid said. “You want to make sure to give him enough touches. What that is, I don’t know, but you want to give it to him a few more times.”
Charles, as usual, takes the high road, pointing out he doesn’t have a whole lot of say in the matter. He’ll only say that he intends to make the most of his chances, however many that may be.
“You’ve got to go out there and compete all four quarters,” he said. “As the game (this past Sunday) went on, they turned it up a different notch and we didn’t match their intensity. As far as fundamentals, we have to go back to the film room and correct our mistakes.”
Notes: The Chiefs signed RB Eric Kettani, WR Jerrell Jackson and LB Ridge Wilson to the practice squad Tuesday. They replace WR Fred Williams, who was released; FB Toben Opurum, who was added to the Texans active roster; and TE Jake Byrne, who joined the Chargers’ active roster. ... Reid said Tuesday that starters and backups will both practice this week. The Chiefs are assured of the No. 5 seed for the playoffs, so it’s likely most starters will rest against San Diego.