Charcandrick West’s first game as the Chiefs’ starting tailback did not go quite as planned — his late fumble swung momentum in their 16-10 loss — but Chiefs coach Andy Reid was mostly pleased with how West performed.
“Yeah, it’s too bad it ended the way that it did,” Reid said Monday. “There were some good performances in this game. I mean, there were some positive things in this game that are going to get overlooked because we didn’t win the game.”
West, he said, did some of those good things. West, a 5-foot-10, 205-pound, undrafted free agent from Abilene Christian, rushed only nine times for 33 yards and caught just one pass for 6 yards. But Reid said his performance in his first game as Jamaal Charles’ replacement shouldn’t be judged solely on statistics.
“We had 24 plays in the first half, so he didn’t get to show much there,” Reid said. “I thought as things went on he did some nice things, he had a couple good blitz pickups, he had a couple good runs, he ran hard and aggressive.”
West was in on 43 offensive plays, which accounted for 69 percent of the Chiefs’ snaps on Sunday. That’s twice as many as 2013 third-round pick Knile Davis, who was in on 19 plays (31 percent). Davis rushed five times for 13 yards and also caught a pass for 12 yards.
Reid said before the game that the Chiefs would use a committee approach with their running backs, and the way the workload was divided was no coincidence.
“Yeah, well some of it is that the runs that (Charcandrick) does best were the things that we thought were best against Minnesota,” Reid said. “We narrowed things down in the second half and obviously we were trying to get a little juice going that we didn’t have in the first half and were able to get that.
“I thought our offensive line settled down a little bit in that third quarter. We didn’t have as many issues there.”
There were plenty of issues in the first half, when the Chiefs managed just 51 yards in 20 plays. But Reid was adamant that their first-half struggles were not a matter of them needing to figure out how the Vikings would attack them without Charles, who is out for the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“They kind of did what they normally do — it was not that surprising,” Reid said of the Vikings.
Still, West acknowledged after the game that his individual performance was marred by the fumble, which occurred in an odd way as his teammate, left tackle Donald Stephenson, mistakenly stripped him on a fourth-quarter run.
“It doesn’t matter who hits the ball or how it happens,” West said. “I just have to hold on to the ball. Fumbles are not acceptable.”
The fumble occurred at the Vikings’ 43-yard line with the Chiefs trailing 16-10 with 4:38 left in the game. The Chiefs had some momentum at the time. The defense had stiffened and held the Vikings to a field goal on their previous drive.
“The fumble killed everything,” West said. “That stopped any momentum that we had.”
Reid agreed but was quick to point out that effort isn’t a problem for West and he can use the moment as a learning experience.
“He’s got to hang on to the football, he learned a lesson — young guy, right?” Reid said. “He’s a young kid, so he learned a lesson, whether it’s your own guy punching it out or — not on purpose, obviously — but if your own guy hits it or somebody else hits it, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to keep it high and tight.”