Kansas City Chiefs: 8 Running Backs Who May Play with Jamaal Charles in 2012
Everyone is excited to see Jamaal Charles return next season. Charles will need some help next season after suffering a torn ACL in 2011.
The good part about the injury is that it did not occur late during the 2011 season. It went down in Week 2 in Detroit, and it gave Charles a lot of time to recover so it does not carry over to 2012.
While Charles is capable of coming away with a big run due to his breakaway speed, he will need some help to carry the pigskin. We learned in 2010 that having multiple active running backs on the team can lead to success.
For the Chiefs, having Thomas Jones work with Charles helped them rank first in the league in rushing. With a stronger finish to the 2011 season, can Kansas City achieve the rushing title as a team again?
Since Jones is without a contract and it is expected that he may retire, Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli will need to figure out who can come to Kansas City and help the Chiefs be a force when it comes to rushing the football on offense.
Dexter McCluster, Current Chiefs Running Back
2011 was a big year for Dexter McCluster after an up-and-down rookie season.
McCluster missed five games in 2010 due a a high ankle sprain. The injury slowed down his performance. McCluster finished his rookie year with 18 carries for 71 rushing yards and 21 catches for 209 receiving yards in 11 contests.
Last season, McCluster was more active as he played in all 16 games and because of Charles’ absence.
McCluster ran the football 114 times for 516 yards and caught 46 passes for 328 yards. McCluster made strides in 2011 by trying to keep the Chiefs offense alive and active.
If Charles and McCluster are healthy and active in 2012, they could possibly form the fastest running back duo the league has ever seen.
For the Chiefs, the easiest route to take is declaring McCluster as the No. 2 scatback. This would prevent the Chiefs from having to seek another running back and focus on bigger needs.
Even if McCluster is not the primary running back behind Charles, he will still get some handoffs from the backfield, like he did in 2010 behind Jones and Charles.
Michael Bush, Free Agent from Oakland
The Kansas City Chiefs signed former Oakland Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt on Monday. It wouldn’t hurt the Chiefs to go snag another good player from another team in the division.
No one knew if Michael Bush would have a good career in the NFL after suffering a broken right tibia in 2006 during his final year with Louisville. Bush went from being a first-round pick to a fourth-round pick in the 2007 NFL draft. But even then, Bush’s nagging injury kept him away from the field during his rookie season.
However, Bush overcame the odds and has proven to everyone that he can play at a high level when given a chance.
Since being able to play football in 2008, Bush has played in 61 of the 64 games he has been available for, being inactive only three times. Bush has only started 19 games, despite improving ever year. Bush’s total rushing yards have increased ever year.
Last season, Bush had to step up after Darren McFadden went down with a season-ending injury. Bush dominated and gave the Raiders hope and eventually finish with a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West.
Bush had career-highs in carries, rushing yards, receptions and receiving yards.
While Bush might want to be a starter elsewhere, he may realize that playing for the Chiefs and having Charles as his sidekick. Charles and Bush can cause a lot of problems for opposing defenses and keep defensive coordinators up late at night to find a plan to stop the two.
It may be a reach, but with the money the Chiefs have, Pioli needs to make an attempt to get Bush to help the Chiefs rushing game get back on top.
Mike Tolbert, Free Agent from San Diego
Speaking of divisional snags, here's another one the Chiefs should pursue.
Throughout the offseason, I have suggested multiple times that the Chiefs should go after Mike Tolbert. Tolbert would help the Chiefs have an active and healthy backfield, but he could also help the Chiefs excel in a spot where they struggled the most on offense last season.
In San Diego, Tolbert was best used as a power back in goal-line situations. He only had 490 yards on the ground off 490 carries but ran in eight touchdowns to help the Chargers get on the scoreboard.
The Chiefs red-zone struggles cost them in a couple of games and almost prevented them from stunning the Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs scored only one touchdown in five red-zone trips in their 19-14 win over the Packers.
Tolbert would help erase those woes and give the Chiefs more points. Kansas City finished second-to-last in the AFC in rushing touchdowns and were last in the conference in total points.
In a division where the Chiefs were last place with a 7-9 record and were one game behind the winning team, having a player like Tolbert, who can pound the ball in to the end zone with ease, could be the difference maker in some games, and it can ultimately decide who wins the division.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Free Agent from New England
BenJarvus Green-Ellis is probably not the most attractive option in the eyes of many fans. But he might do a better job than some believe.
Green-Ellis was part of a New England offense where rushing was not a first option. With Tom Brady under center, the Patriots have every reason to select the pass over the run.
Green-Ellis has rushed for over 2,000 yards with over 500 carries and 29 touchdowns in his four years in the league.
While playing all 16 games in 2011 and 2010, Green-Ellis carried a big role with the Patriots and was very active as a rusher. He earned 1,000 rushing yards in 2010 to help the Patriots establish a more three-dimensional offense. Green-Ellis also had 13 rushing touchdowns on the season, all of them being career highs.
Green-Ellis has a lot of experience sharing the backfield with Fred Taylor, Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley. Doing so with Charles won’t be anything new, and it can only help the Chiefs do better during their rebounding season.
As many already figured out, Green-Ellis could be an easy player to bring due to the Patriot connection the Chiefs have on this team.
Peyton Hillis, Free Agent from Cleveland
Peyton Manning is one player who is rumored to become a Chief. But another player by the name of Peyton might be better suited to come to Kansas City.
Peyton Hillis has gained a lot of attention since the Denver Broncos let him go to Cleveland. Hillis immediately became a dominant running back in the NFL while he continued to catch the eyes of many defensive players and spectators.
Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards on 270 carries and scored 11 touchdowns during his breakout season in 2010. However, he missed six games in 2011 due to a strep throat and a hamstring injury. In the 10 contests Hillis played in last season, he could not produce. He gained only 717 total yards on the season and had a 3.6 yards per carry average.
Signing Hillis is a very risky move, considering both he and Charles dealt with injuries last season, and both are looking to bounce back in some form in 2012. Is it worth the risk to bring in Hillis and have him play alongside Charles?
New Chiefs offensive coordinator and former Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is not known as a coach who got along with players in the past. Unless Hillis had a bad relationship with Daboll behind closed doors, it would be nice to see Daboll recruit his former running back to the Chiefs.
Reggie Bush, Current Running Back for Miami
When the New Orleans Saints drafted Mark Ingram in last year's draft, Reggie Bush was the first to admit that his time as a Saint was over. After not living up to expectations, many wondered if Bush would succeed in Miami.
After an 0-7 start for the Dolphins, Bush lifted his team and was a big part in helping them earn their first victory of the season in Kansas City. He scored a rushing touchdown in Kansas City, which was his first since 2009.
Bush rushed for 1,086 yards off 216 carries with six touchdowns on the ground in 2011. He finished 11th in the league in rushing, however, Bush had a higher yard per carry average than all of the running backs who finished in the top 10.
For Bush, he realized that playing as the starting running back is better suited for him than playing under a one-two tailback punch.
But could he succeed in a two-back system if the Chiefs reunite him with Daboll in a trade with Miami?
Trent Richardson, Rookie from Alabama
There are several mock drafts that have Trent Richardson going to Kansas City with the 11th or 12th pick, depending on who wins the coin-flip for the 11th pick later this week.
Being a young running back, Richardson and Charles would leave defenses flailing. Richardson is no stranger to the two-back set due to his experience in sharing the backfield with Ingram while playing in Alabama.
If the Chiefs do decide to select Richardson in the first round of the draft, that means Pioli addressed the woes at offensive line through free agency.
However, if the Chiefs decide to take an offensive tackle or if another team takes Richardson, there is another rookie the Chiefs can go after in this year's draft.
David Wilson, Rookie from Virginia Tech
If David Wilson is available in the second round of the draft, he would be a huge pickup for the any team.
Keep in mind, when the Chiefs drafted Charles in 2008, they were able to, surprisingly, find him in the third round. Sometimes NFL teams let fast running backs slip away from their hands, and the Chiefs have had some good luck with having an elite running back.
Wilson is another fast and electric running back entering the draft. Like Charles during his time in Texas, Wilson had tremendous speed at Virginia Tech and was successful while competing in track and field.
Without hesitation, the Chiefs should pull the trigger and quickly close down on the decision to draft Wilson if he is on their board and still up for grabs in the second round.
Where Is Jackie Battle?
Outside of Tolbert and Hillis, this slideshow featured a strong class of speedy tailbacks.
In the NFL today, many teams are trying to employ an offense where they have two strong and active running backs to help carry the load. Some teams are unable to find two running backs and are forced to consistently hand the ball of to one running back.
In the past, running backs were not supposed to be freakish runners or track stars in order to find success in the NFL. Today, the league is evolving where the more successful running backs are the ones who have a very good 40-time.
Players like Charles, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, Michael Turner and LeSean McCoy have gifted speed and are recognized as some of the league's best today.
Jackie Battle does not fit this bill. Battle surprised and impressed us when he ran for 119 yards against the Indianapolis Colts last season. However, Battle completed that fleet against a rush defense that finished 29th in the league. Battle never rushed for 100 yards in another game that season.
While Battle showed he is more than a third-string running back, he may not fit Kansas City's offense if they want a speedy backfield. Tolbert and Hillis are also better options as power backs in goal-line situations.
Running backs are also now becoming more three-dimensional by making catches out of the backfield. Battle only had nine catches in 2011 and 14 total during his five years in Kansas City.