1. Is this season over?
You never say never in the NFL, and yeah, there are still 11 games left, but it definitely looks bleak. It’s hard to come back from a 1-4 start, but it’s even harder when four of your next five games are away from home. By the way — provided Chiefs coach Andy Reid is correct about Jamaal Charles suffering a torn ACL — to even finish 9-7, the Chiefs would have to go 8-3 over their next 11 games without their best offensive player. That’s a really difficult task.
2. How much does Charles mean to this offense?
Everything. Charles’ speed, vision, versatility and big-play ability makes him a threat every time he touches the ball, which means he’s someone teams have to game-plan for. Without him, teams can gear even more attention toward tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Jeremy Maclin, which is not only bad news for fantasy players, but the Chiefs as well. Without Charles to worry about, what will keep teams from sitting on the short routes and blitzing quarterback Alex Smith at will? Charles’ backups, Charcandrick West and Knile Davis, have massive shoes to fill.
3. Speaking of West and Davis, what do they bring to the table?
Neither is Charles, obviously, but they do have complementary skill sets. Davis is a speedy, north-south runner who would best fit in man-blocking scheme, so it might be wise for the Chiefs to incorporate some of those plays going forward. West is a jitterbug like Charles with superior hands, which means it’s possible both could be used effectively. For both, this is the opportunity of a lifetime, provided the Chiefs don’t call on any free-agent backs.
4. Whom can we blame for this loss?
Everyone. The injury to Charles stunk, but you could argue a mentally tough team would have responded against a struggling team like the Bears, who entered the game 1-3 and were without at least five starters. To get outscored 15-0 after the injury and outgained 220-52 is inexcusable, no matter how much Charles means to the team. At the end of the day, the responsibility for this team lies with the coaches, so blame them. Also keep an eye on the guys who still give great effort for the next 12 weeks — those are the ones who are winners, love football and/or need to be kept around.
5. What’s the worst-case scenario for this season?
These guys are probably too talented to do any worse that 6-10, but now that Charles is hurt — and the Chiefs are in a massive hole — everything is on the table. We’ll learn a lot about how much these players feel about football, Reid and the coaching staff based on how hard they play the rest of the season. And in a season where players openly talked about playoff dreams, that would be a massive disappointment with potential consequences.
1 Games the Chiefs will play at Arrowhead from now to Nov. 29, when they are host to the Buffalo Bills. Four of the Chiefs’ next five games are away from home, counting the London game against Detroit on Nov. 1.