"The Chiefs wasted little time cutting Larry Johnson, despite not having a great option to replace him." – USAToday
Fast forward to week 10: Jamaal Charles, whose 97-yard return of the opening kickoff helped drive Kansas City to a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, was named AFC special teams player of the week Wednesday. Charles also had an offensive touchdown.
Do the Chiefs have an option now? Or are we just getting our hopes up?
I was ready to help Johnson pack, but it did cross my mind...now what? Who's going to run the ball? I knew Charles had great speed, water bug speed one announcer said, but I also realized he fumbles the ball. A problem he's had since college. He wasn't big, 200 pounds, and sometimes it didn't take much to knock him off his feet.
I liked him, but was I totally sold?
"It's not about how big you are, It's not how fast you are, it's not how quick you move and who you can run over. It's all about will and heart. And if you have heart you can do anything you put your mind to.
"I just go out there and try to run," Charles says.
After watching him these past two weeks I'm beginning to believe. Will and heart...music to my ears.
Dick Vermeil asked Larry Johnson to take off the diapers, Herman Edwards asked Johnson to lead. Johnson said he'd let his actions speak for him. Todd Haley was looking for the "right 53"; Johnson has since been shown the door.
In walks Jamaal Charles.
"Big change", said Todd Haley. "You can see him kind of growing into being a player."
Here's a reason to be encouraged, Charles has a history of success. In 2007 with the University of Texas, his first season as the full-time starter, he got stronger as the season wore on averaging 180 yards over the final five games. He rushed for 161 yards and two TDs in Texas' Holiday Bowl win over Arizona.
What you get with Charles is pure speed. He's the classic burner. What excites me most is each time he gets the ball he's always a threat to break it open. A guy like Charles doesn't necessarily need the line, which is a plus. Don't misunderstand; the Chiefs need to get better on the line, but he just needs a little daylight and he can take it to the house. I know second down looks a whole lot better when Charles runs the ball.
Johnson with his 2.7 average wasn't getting it done, but Charles has been a shot in the arm for the Chiefs who are now 2-0 with him as their starter.
Something Charles showed in college was the ability to progress quickly, that's what the Chiefs will need him to do in his new role. He's being counted on and has Haley on his side. Coming out of college the knock was he only started one full season with the Longhorns, but the positive was his upside.
What will keep Charles healthy will be his speed, and he has a natural instinct for reading the action and reacting to his lineman, which we've seen between him and LT Branden Albert. It's hard to catch him once he gets going.
You can't tackle what you can't catch.
When I see Charles he reminds me of Marcus Allen with his build. Allen wasn't a big player, but he was smart. Allen used his linemen and had an ability to avoid that solid hit from the other guy. Allen had a long career because of it.
So what are we thinking with Charles? Two games don't make a star. His average wasn't fantastic against the Steelers and he had just eight yards receiving, but...
Will and heart were the two words he used to describe himself. If the Chiefs are to win, they need a leader. If linemen have someone to block for, which does motivate them, they will try harder. It's got to start someplace, with someone, and usually it begins with the two most important...the quarterback and running back.
As soon as the Chiefs get the offensive line squared away, I think they have two good "bricks" to start with in Matt Cassel and Jamaal Charles.
It's towards the end of the season and it's just now starting to get fun. Good things come to those who wait. Charles is showing he's waited long enough.