Don't Kill The Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

Rewatching the all-22 film with a focus on Jamaal Charles

10/25/2013 10:38 AM

04/24/2014 3:50 PM

I’m just going to tell you right up front that if you want bells and whistles and GIFs with your video-based blog posts, then you need to see my man Terez

. Actually, you should see him anyway.

Also, I think we should make this a weekly disclaimer:

I cannot stress enough that this should come with a sort of entertainment-purposes-only disclaimer. I am not a football coach, and am not playing one here on the internet.

When I watch video, I do it with a sort-of trained eye, but something much closer to the guy two barstools down from you than the one on the sideline with a headset. Watching video — and this goes for, basically, any "breakdown" you read anywhere — does not come with the advantage of knowing each player’s assignment on the particular play or any other number of factors that can make a critical difference in what we see.

So with that in mind, this week’s All-22 watch was done with an eye on

Jamaal Charles

.

He’s having an interesting season. He is the AFC’s leading rusher, and has at least 100 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in every game this season. He’s also on pace for 390 touches this year, which would put him in Arian Foster territory. Forty-nine percent of the Chiefs’ plays from scrimmage have ended with the ball in Charles’ hands. Interestingly, this is the first time in his career he’s seven games into a season without a run for at least 25 yards. This is tied for the longest such streak of his career — a seven-game stretch of last season that included the five-carry game against the Raiders where Romeo Crennel basically said he didn’t know what the hell.

Anyway, I wanted to keep a particular eye on Charles because

his ratings on Pro Football Focus

seem strangely low. He’s only a +1.8 for the year, and a -1.3 rushing the ball. The guys who run that site are smarter than me, and put more time into those things than I do, but here’s what I saw in Charles against the Texans, a game in which he rushed 21 times for 86 yards and a touchdown, and caught three passes for 37 yards. He is the heartbeat of this offense, obviously, and there are things that jump out on the video that must get washed away in those ratings.

- 12 carries where he basically got nothing. This includes one particularly good play against him by J.J. Watt, but for the most part, these are the nothing-doing plays every team has and basically an indication that there wasn’t anything to be gained.

- Five more carries for six yards or less that are more positive. This includes the touchdown run — terrific blocking, including by Eric Fisher — and short-yardage first downs. These are tough yards, almost always between the tackles. I’m reminded of this quote from Brandon Flowers, that was in

the column I did on Charles a few weeks ago

:

"He’s so fast, people try to look at him like a track guy, like some other backs in the league. But he grounds and pounds and wears you down. He does it all in one. You don’t need thunder and lightning. You got both of them with J-Charles. He carries this team, man. He carries this team."

- One ridiculous run early, where he should’ve been stuffed at the line of scrimmage but spun away to his left, then gets past the defensive back with a lightning cut up the field and runs away from a linebacker. I count four guys (maybe five) who had a chance at him. Probably should’ve been a loss of a yard or two, but instead it’s a 17-yard gain. Barry Sanders stuff.

- One screen pass that was basically the same kind of deal. Could’ve been a loss of three, but he breaks three tackles and gets to the outside and gains nine.

- Another run through the line of scrimmage where a linebacker could’ve made a good play for no gain, but Charles has enough speed to get up the field for 11 yards.

- One run for 12 yards, off the left tackle, that was just excellent blocking and play-calling.

- Two more catches that went for short gains, nothing very good or bad.

- The fumble. Rewatching it, you see that Charles probably should’ve been tackled behind the line of scrimmage. He ran through a guy, which is when Watt turned and knocked the ball loose.

- This doesn’t show up on the stats, but man, that play where the Chiefs had Charles split wide on a go route against a linebacker Smith has to keep that throw in bounds.

A few other quickie observations that have nothing to do with Charles:

- Anthony Fasano’s return is one of those under-the-radar things that should make a big difference.

- Eric Fisher struggled against Watt, but whatever, everybody struggles against Watt. But on the rewatches, you can see some progress and more flashes of potential. I mentioned his block on Charles’ touchdown run, and another impressive moment came on that 3rd and 21 screen to McCluster. In

the column off the game

, I mention that Bowe wiped out two guys downfield on the play. Well, if you watch it, you can also see Fisher running with McCluster, 30-some yards downfield looking for guys to block. Very impressive for a big tackle.

-

Mentioned this on Monday, but man, Abdullah saved a big punt return early in the second quarter. That play could’ve gone for big yards and changed the game. He had enough speed to get around a blocker and make a play around the 10 yard line. If not for that, the return might’ve gone 90-some yards for a touchdown.

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