Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles has to be in the doghouse with Todd Haley. Time and time again the head coach has talked about the importance of starting off strong. Establishing a momentum and answering scores with a score is something Haley has stressed for some time. It's the fundamentals, really, since the Chiefs margin of error is so tiny.
One of the fundamentals is hanging onto the football - a rule Charles violated on the opening kickoff in last week's loss to the New York Giants. The Giants of course were given the ball in Kansas City territory and made it count with a touchdown. For an offense like the Chiefs, that's just devastating.
So, the plan of attack against the Cowboys? Um, don't have a repeat of the Giants game.
"It's on me for putting our defense in a situation like that," Charles told reporters this week. "If we start off this week like that again, it's going to be the same situation but if we start off with no turnovers, it's going to be a good game."
Yeah, last game was last quarter and it's time to move past it but it's hard not to wonder what could have been. "We could have had a good game against the Giants but I had that turnover in the red zone," he said.
Moving forward, I think Charles understands he's showing the beginnings of a fumbling, or he already has a full-blown problem in some others' eyes, and he's doing what needs to be done to fix it.
"Confidence," Charles responded when asked how to fix the fumbling problem. "I was going out there being too cocky with the ball like no one can make me fumble the ball. It wasn't a big hit and I just let it go. That's something I've been trying to do in practice - just holding onto the ball. You can be confident and cocky with it just know where it's at and secure the ball."
Whenever I see a Charles fumble, I take myself back to an exchange between the coach and the player a few months ago while Haley was wired for the NFL network. When asked if Charles fumbled:
Jamaal Charles: That was my fault. I didn't cover the ball enough.
Haley: You better take care of my football. Or you can not play.
Charles was inactive one game this season.
For the Chiefs to beat the Cowboys this weekend, they must play like the Giants did a few weeks back when they spoiled the Texas Stadium debut.
"The other team, the Giants, were physical," Charles said when asked how other teams have beaten the Cowboys this year. "They wanted to win and played with confidence. We gotta come out there and be physical and play like we want a win. We gotta give our all for the Chiefs and try to make a win, that's it."
Try to make a win - getting back to basics.