The Kansas City Chiefs employ of the most dynamic offensive forces in the game in Jamaal Charles. Unfortunately, Charles is also heads-above the rest of KC's offensive talent.
That's the premise behind Mike Tanier's latest column on the NFL's All-Hinge team. The idea is to identify players on whom the season hinges for a particular team. For the Chiefs, it's all on Charles' shoulders, according to Tanier, who writes:
The Chiefs tapped out of the most fertile wide receiver draft in 20 years, so get ready for another year of Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery! Eagles fans who remember James Thrash and Todd Pinkston feel your pain. Charles knows what it's like to be his team's leading rusher and receiver, but this year the expectations are greater. The Chiefs were in this exact same position after the 2010 season, and when Charles got hurt early in 2011, it sparked a two-year tailspin. The organization around him has changed, but Charles is the same in a relative way (only older and shorter of breath … ). No non-quarterback shoulders a larger burden.
Thus far, the Chiefs have not made any significant moves at wide receiver despite an insistent perception that it's one of the weak spots on the team. Dexter McCluster left for more money with the Tennessee Titans, but the Chiefs grabbed Canadian import West Dressler in free agency to prep for the move. Besides the move to retain Kyle Williams in free agency, the Chiefs have stood firm at the position.
The team did add De'Anthony Thomas via the draft, and his presence will likely be felt all over the field. However it's hard to tell just how much action he'll get as a rookie, and it's likely he will emerge on special teams first.
It should also be noted that Travis Kelce returns from injury and could add a dynamic talent at tight end if healthy. The team's third round draft choice last year would be a welcome option for quarterback Alex Smith and help open up the offense a bit more.
That said, Charles is the focal point for a reason. Pro Football Focus recently listed him as the No. 11 overall player in the NFL, and there's very few skill position players who can affect a game like Charles can. While the burden might be heavy for Charles, it's only because his skill set demands such a load. Anything other that a Charles-centric offensive game plan would be a waste of one of the game's truly elite talents.