In the second post of this series we're going to take a look at the running back position for the Kansas City Chiefs and how it's faired through the first six games of the season.
The expectations were very high for this group coming into the season and not just because of the return of Jamaal Charles, but because of the free agent acquisition of Peyton Hillis. The combination of Hillis and his former offensive coordinator in Cleveland, Brian Daboll, was thought to be the perfect combination to pair up with Charles. Hillis had the best season of his career under Daboll and he was looking for an opportunity to prove he's deserving of a multi-year deal.
I don't think anyone could have expected the emergence of Shaun Draughn as the No. 2 running back but with injuries to Peyton Hillis and Cyrus Gray (early in season), Draughn stepped into that role. I also didn't expect Charles to come back and be this good, this soon. I had doubts about his return from the ACL injury but those are distant memories at this point.
I think without question the highlight of the season thus far at running back was Jamaal Charles' performance against the New Orleans Saints. Charles finished the day against the Saints with 33 carries for 233 yards and one electric 91-yard touchdown run. Most of us thought that play could have been the play that turned around the Chiefs season, and now just a few weeks later we know that is not the case. It's not too late to turn it around but that play won't be viewed as 'thee' catalyst anymore at this point. But still a special play nonetheless.
Peyton Hillis' Chiefs career at this point is the lowlight, and that's mainly because of the excitement that was built up around him joining the team. It's hard to knock on a guys' production if he's been injured, but we were hoping to see more from him and the fact that he's not been on the field has been kind of a let down.
Jamaal Charles had 230 carries in his record-breaking season for the Chiefs in 2010 and he's on pace for 307 carries this season. There's the old saying 'be careful what you wish for' for those people that wanted to see Charles' get 20-25 carries per game. We'll see if this pace continues and if he can hold-up to the physical pounding each and every week.
It will be interesting to see what role Peyton Hillis plays when he returns from injury because Draughn hasn't been bad and minus the one fumble from Cyrus Gray, he's looked really good since coming back healthy as well. At this point I see the other two being here next year and Hillis might having to find another home because the backfield looks pretty crowded right now.
How do you see the running back position fairing for the rest of the season? How do you think carries will be divided up when Hillis returns?