Most certainly the job of the offensive line is to protect the quarterback. However, that’s secondary to opening up holes in the running game. The Kansas City Chiefs have always prided themselves in being an outstanding running team. That sentiment is largely due to the fact Running Back; Jamaal Charles is the games very best.
This past week Charles spoke to ESPN and most recently over the weekend to the Associated Press about preparation for the off-season, which begins today in Kansas City, and his overall thoughts about playing hurt a year ago.
In talking about last season, Charles made it clear that he played virtually every game banged up in 2014.
“I was frustrated because I didn’t feel my body was right the whole season. But I battled through that time. That’s all I could do. I felt like I was in a fight and I had to respond,” Charles stated to ESPN.
For those in Kansas City that watched Charles, you could tell at times he wasn’t the same but he’s a warrior. Still you know the Chiefs brass watched in horror, as his offensive line couldn’t create the space to run he’s been able to achieve in previous years. In other words, the line wasn’t cutting the mustard.
So when Head Coach, Andy Reid and General Manager, John Dorsey, hit free agency they made some changes. With the hopeful maturation of former first round pick Left Tackle, Eric Fisher, guard additions Ben Grubbs and Paul Fanaika, the Chiefs have already beefed up their line.
However, if the this team is going to be a more pass happy offense, and run the ball with greater efficiency, the Chiefs still need to fill the holes at center and right tackle.
With the departure of Center, Rodney Hudson to the Raiders, third year man Eric Kush, as mentioned before, would start for the Chiefs in the middle of the line. At right tackle, it’s probably a two-man race between Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson.
Looking ahead the Chiefs do have the 18th overall pick. Therefor they could take a center or tackle. Though the draft is weak at the center position it’s strong at tackle. Forget the candidates for now; at least the Chiefs have some options in the first couple of rounds to correct the balance of their evolving offensive line.
Still for Charles, he knows this team has other needs but didn’t shy away from telling the AP his thoughts about what the team should do moving forward in addressing the offensive line he has to run behind.
“I’m not a GM, so I can’t do that job. But it was challenging last year playing with guys — some got hurt, some got suspended. So it was hard playing. I never knew how crucial it was to my career that I needed linemen,” Charles told the Associated Press.
Though Reid likes to throw the ball around the field, having a weapon like Charles is truly rare. There isn’t a more durable, speedy, elusive running back in the NFL and Reid would be wise to push his general manager to think outside the box as the draft approaches.
With a strong off-season to date, the Kansas City Chiefs made tremendous strides in bridging the gap with the Denver Broncos. However, to push the Chiefs to the top of the division in 2015, Charles will be the key and so will the moves this team makes in the next two weeks to shore up the line.
If the re-building offensive line can add another veteran (via trade or free agency) and a prized rookie draftee, then perhaps Charles comments in the off-season will be as impactful when he has the rock in his hands on the field in September.