The Kansas City Chiefs may only have one win going into Week 6, but they have the attention of the Minnesota Vikings. The Chiefs have lost running back Jamaal Charles to a season ending knee injury. Charles tore his ACL and will require surgery. Despite the loss of Jamaal, the Vikings are still concerned about the Chiefs.
It goes without saying that Jamaal Charles has been the workhorse of the team. But since a loss at home to the Chicago Bears, the Chiefs will be rolling into Minnesota without the weapon that so many teams fear. In essence, Jamaal Charles is the heart and soul of the franchise. In 2011, Charles suffered the same ACL injury to his left knee. Since Charles returned from that injury in 2012, he has accounted for 30.9 percent of the Chiefs’ offense. According to ESPN, the only player to produce a larger percentage of his team’s offense during that time is Bears running back Matt Forte (31.2).
With Jamaal Charles out of the lineup, head coach Mark Zimmer was asked if his team would be overconfident.
“No, not really,” he said. “We’ve only won two games, so no, not at all.”
Overconfidence is something the Vikings will have to fight going into their Week 6 game. Jamaal Charles is the one player that defensive coordinators carefully plan around. Charles is the variable that can turn a game around and quickly change momentum.
In their home loss on Sunday, the Chiefs were leading the Bears 17-3. When Jamaal Charles went down with the injury, The Bears were able to spring to life and reel off 15 unanswered points for the win. The Chiefs seemed to fall apart after Charles’ departure. The rest of the year looks bleak. Charles is a huge part of the offense. The Chiefs rely on Jamaal to cover the obvious flaws of quarterback Alex Smith.
Charles was injured without contact while making a cut during the game against the Chicago Bears. He put no weight on the leg as he was helped from the field. Sources have told ESPN that Charles avoided any further ligament damage, but the ACL tear was confirmed by MRI.
“It changes things a little for them just because of how much he normally does for them,” Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph said, via the Star Tribune. “But they’re an NFL team. They have more than Jamaal.”
The Chiefs don’t have a quarterback who can cause nightmares at the position. That’s what Charles did. Alex Smith tends to rush the plays. He’s been sacked so many times that he hurries when it’s not really necessary.
When asked about the chances of Charles coming back, head coach Andy Reid sounded optimistic.
“He’s an amazing guy that way,” Reid said. “He’s one of those rare athletes that you have an opportunity to coach. They’re genetically and mentally strong, and they can do things most people can’t do when it comes to their profession.”
With Charles gone, the offense will have to find another workhorse. Smith is having a subpar year and the offensive line isn’t looking that strong. The option was always toss Jamaal the ball in the flat or hand it off to Jamaal and watch him do his thing. Without Charles out for the season, the load will have to fall on Charcandrick West and Knile Davis. West has 12 career carries, including seven for 31 yards on Sunday. Davis has two career 100-yard games.
The Vikings don’t seem to be overly concerned about the absence of Jamaal Charles. They’re more concerned about stopping his replacements. Of the two backs, West’s style is more similar to Charles’. The game plan will probably be centered around him.
[Photo by Peter Aiken / Getty Images]