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Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles: A Happy, Kansas City Chiefs Marriage

DENVER - JANUARY 03: Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on from the sidelines against the Denver Broncos during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on January 3, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Russell FikeCorrespondent IMarch 12, 2010

Billy Kramer asks, “When’s mommy coming back?”

“I don’t know, Billy.  Soon,” Ted, his father, replies.

“How Soon?"

“Soon.”

“Will she pick me up after school?”

“Probably.  And if she doesn’t, I will,”  Ted insists.

“What if you forget?”

“I won’t forget.”

“What if you get run over by a truck and get killed?”

“Then Mommy will pick you up.”

At first glance, a quote from the movie, Kramer vs. Kramer , has little place in a football forum.  However, the story of a broken marriage tells a similar story to the recent marriage of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones in the Kansas City backfield.

No, not a literal, Dennis Rodman-type marriage for publicity, but simply the uniting of two star players at the same position, on the same team.

While one situation showcases a custody battle, where time with the child is split, so must these two with regard to their carries.

Thomas Jones is coming off of a career year where he helped the New York Jets get to the AFC championship game.  A few years earlier, the Chicago Bears rode Jones to the Super Bowl.

In Kansas City, Jamaal Charles has already shown the potential for stardom, as he stormed to 1,120 rushing yards, with an eye-popping 5.9 yards per carry average.

How do two potential stars thrive on the same roster?

It’s a compromise to be discovered by any NFL team looking for a sustained dominance in their rushing attack. 

The days of the workhorse back appear to be a thing of the past.  Even a player like Adrian Peterson may see a rapid deterioration, or even a career-threatening injury remove him from the ranks of the elite.  The list goes on for running backs who saw a rapid decline in ability: Terrell Davis, Edgerrin James, and Larry Johnson among others.

The pounding a running back takes means a fewer number of years at peak performance, and therefore shortens careers. 

Any Kansas City fan who has seen Charles run knows we want as many good years out of him as we can get.  This is where Jones comes into the equation.

The Carolina Panthers and New York Giants are successful examples of a tandem backfield. 

Carolina splits carries between Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams almost evenly at roughly 13.5 carries per game.  Both had 1,000 yard seasons.

The Giants gave Brandon Jacobs an average of 14 carries per game, and the smaller, swifter Ahmad Bradshaw around 10.

The equation for success in Kansas City:

Expect Charles and Jones to each receive somewhere between 13-17 carries per game.  Thomas Jones is likely to be featured in goal line and short-yardage situations, similar to Marcus Allen in the twilight of his career.

Both have the potential to post 1,000 yard seasons, and form a top rushing attack for the Chiefs without having to break 225 carries (Larry Johnson set an NFL record with 416 carries in a season before he broke down). 

This is not only a plan to achieve success in the ground game this season, but for years to come.  

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