KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A week after a record-setting performance of five total touchdowns, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles pulled a virtual disappearing act after a first-quarter touchdown.
It proved odd to observe, especially on a day when nothing appeared to work against the Indianapolis Colts with the exception of Charles.
Dec 22, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) carries the ball against the Indianapolis Colts in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
At one point in the third quarter, the Chiefs had 150 total yards offense on the game; Charles accounted for 105 of those yards.
Nevertheless, Charles became an afterthought during the second half, leading to coach Andy Reid shouldering the blame during Monday’s media session.
“Obviously 25 (Charles) didn’t touch the ball much the second half,” Reid said. “And that’s my responsibility to make sure that within the realm of things, 28 plays that we had in that second half, that we give him more of a shot there than the six touches that he had.”
While Charles is clearly the team’s top weapon, Reid said there isn’t a set percentage amount of touches per game with his running back.
“Listen, the game kind of got away in that fourth quarter,” Reid said. “We were still in it the second half, and then we were put in the position where we had to throw the ball a little bit.
“We had a couple of routes that were set up for him but they covered him. They rolled the coverage that way. The coverage didn’t present itself where we could use him in those.”
The Chiefs will have to get used to teams adjusting on Charles in the postseason, and this is especially true if the first-round opponent are the Colts.
At least one Colts defender made it clear after the game what their plan was heading into Week 16.
“It was ‘Where’s Waldo’ all week for us,” Colts safety Antoine Bethea revealed to reporters after Sunday’s game. “Jamaal Charles is a great, great player.
“He leads that team in rushing and receiving. We knew he was their go-to-guy and if we could take him out of the game, it would be tough for their offense to get going.”
Still, regardless how defenses play against Charles, Reid is aware he still needs to get the ball in Charles’ hands.
“He’s a great football player,” Reid said. “You want to make sure that you do give him enough touches. What that number is, I don’t know, but I know that you need to give it to him a few more times the second half.”
Charles finished Sunday with 144 total yards (106 rushing), arguably his quietest 100-plus yards of the season. The Chiefs finished with 287 total yards.
Winning the challenge
Reid has an uncanny feeling when to challenge a play this season.
And when he throws the red flag, the results are heavily in his favor, evidenced by winning 7-of-8 on the season.
One such instance occurred Sunday when a review overruled a ruling on the field, resulting in a sack being awarded to linebacker Derrick Johnson.
Reid admits he watches the replay on the stadium jumbotron, but he deferred credit to the coaches in the booth when determining to challenge a play.
“They know what they’re talking about when they look at those and evaluate them,” Reid said of Melvin and Childress. “I’ve had a few in my career where they could go the other way and it’s gone the other way, so I appreciate the ones that do go our way.”
Reid went on to mention by name the two coaches he relies on the most in the booth when it comes to challenging a ruling on the field.
“Tom Melvin is the primary one and Brad Childress is up there and they kind of look through those things,” Reid said. “There are a lot of eyes up there obviously, but Tom is the one that has headed it up over the years.”
Veteran cornerback Dunta Robinson had an active role in Sunday’s game, mostly in the nickel package where the Chiefs moved cornerback Brandon Flowers back to the outside.
And it came at the expense of rookie Marcus Cooper, who took a back seat to Robinson.
Cooper has been on the losing end of numerous big plays since the Chiefs returned from the Week 10 bye.
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning appeared to go after Cooper in the Week 11 and 13 meetings, while San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers victimized Cooper on big plays to wide receiver Kennan Allen.
Reid said Cooper “has a great future,” but indicated the move from Cooper to Robinson was necessary.
“Sometimes you have to take a little step back to take a big step forward,” Reid said. “That’s just how it works sometimes in this game.”
Reid indicated he hasn’t lost faith in Cooper, emphasizing Cooper’s potential. But it remains to be seen if this move is permanent.
“I thought we just needed to take a step back,” Reid said. “I have done that with younger guys in the past.”
As to how Cooper handled the loss of playing time, professionalism proved the right approach.
“I thought he handled it the right way,” Reid said. “He had a few snaps in there, in the game. He did OK, and then we’ll gradually let him work his way back in.”
Notes: Former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Chad Lewis, who played on the 2001 and 2004 Eagles playoff team under Reid, offers insight on how Reid approached resting players for the playoffs …Reid said outside linebacker Tamba Hali is dealing with a swollen knee, but Hali “should be OK down the road”… Cornerback Ron Parker suffered a sprained ankle, Reid said.