Well, it's 12:25 in the morning. I start a new job at 8:00 a.m. I really need to get some sleep.
So let's talk about Spencer Ware, shall we?
First of all, in the interest of full disclosure, I tweeted this out some time ago...
Every time I see Spencer Ware run the ball I think to myself I want to see more of Spencer Ware running the ball. Powerful guy.— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) November 3, 2015
I say that not as a "hey, I'm a football savant" statement, but merely proof that I'm not overreacting based on a single performance in the second half of a blowout against a bad defense.
Ware impressed me in the preseason (as did all the Chiefs RBs, really. Well, besides one. But that's for another day). He runs with a ton of power and shows a little bit of wiggle for a guy his size.
Of course, that's preseason football. You can only take so much from watching a guy run against third string NFL defenses. Sunday, Ware got a shot against a run defense that (while not considered a good defense) was doing a solid job bottling up Charcandrick West.
And wow, he did not disappoint.
Any time you have 96 yards on 11 carries you did something right. But it wasn't so much the yards which Ware gained as much as it was the WAY he gained those yards. In a word, impressively.
First of all, it's REALLY obvious that Ware possesses a great deal of power. The man is 5'10 and weighs 230 pounds. He's basically built like Anthony Sherman but just a tad lighter. Look at his Twitter profile picture. He's like a smaller version of Allen Bailey. That's not going to be a fun guy to bring down.
Just shrugs off Eric Weddle while delivering SHARP stiff arm to another secondary player. Not fun to tackle. pic.twitter.com/t1xa6B9ML8— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) November 23, 2015
That power was what allowed Ware to score his first touchdown. The Chargers linebacker had a good angle on him and delivered a very hard hit, but simple physics came into play. A guy who weighs 230 pounds diving forward is almost impossible to bring to a full stop (unless you're Kelly Gregg and just catch that guy). Ware landed in the end zone celebrating.
Any time West (and before him, Jamaal Charles) takes a hard hit I wince, wondering if he's going to stay down. When Ware takes a hard hit I think "crap, that must have really hurt the other guy." It was fun to see some serious smashmouth football being played. That kind of football can close out games, and Ware's hard running is a reason the game got placed out of reach in the fourth quarter.
But Ware didn't run like a simple mauler who should only be brought in for short yardage situations. Much to my surprise, he demonstrated solid (though certainly not spectacular) speed and really impressive cutting ability. He also showed the ability to find the open space on the field (that rare quality we call "vision," literally the most important skill a RB can possess) on multiple runs.
Obviously the first run anyone is going think about from Sunday will be the 50-plus yarder. Ware did a lot of nice things there. He made a nice cutback to the open lane (showing decisiveness and vision to start the run) and carried a couple of secondary players about five yards at the end of the run (awesome). But the part that caught my eye was in between those two moments.
Here's the most surprising part of Ware's big run; WAY shiftier than you'd expect a 230-pounder. Nice vision, too. pic.twitter.com/ncrxvS4iFH— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) November 23, 2015
But look at the vision and cutting ability Ware shows here. Twice he cuts toward more open field rather than maintaining his direction (the way you'd expect a simple power running to run). The first one is a great open field cut that leaves Eric Weddle (who got owned more than once by Ware, as you can see in the first GIF) completely flat-footed. The second is a nice cut up the field that utilizes Jason Avant's block and leaves the defender diving at air.
I noted Ware's power in the preseason, but I did not realize he could cut like that. And again, having the ability to see where open real estate is on the field is absolutely critical to a RB. It's also something that tends to be repeatable over time, so even with a small sample size it's worth getting excited about (much like how with a small sample size of Charcandrick West we saw he had good vision).
Overall, Ware flashed multiple skills that SHOULD be sustainable. That's what has me extremely interested in seeing what he does moving forward (if he continues to get opportunities.
As stated above, vision is something running backs generally seem to have or they don't. It's not something that fades in and out. The same can be said for power, balance, and cutting ability. Barring injury or a shift in mentality (we've all seen power backs get a little less powerful as their aggression seems to die down), all of those traits should carry forward with a larger sample size of carries.
Look at this run.
Spins off one tackler, dances backward to avoid another, bounces off a 3rd then pushes a 4th past the 1st down. pic.twitter.com/qmTv7twH2F— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) November 23, 2015
That's Ware demonstrating the ability to shake off defenders, see where the open field is, make sharp enough cuts to leave defenders grasping at nothing, and simply overpower smaller defenders (unlike some "power backs" who aren't really power backs, Ware seems to have a powerful lower body as well as upper body. That's a big deal).
Again, all of those things ought to be sustainable with a larger amount of carries. Also, considering the Chiefs have the best blocking fullback in the NFL and several very capable blocking tight ends, Ware's skill could be very ideal to establishing a legitimate power running offense (which would be ideal for Jah Reid and LDT).
Hopefully West gets well quickly (he's done a solid job for the Chiefs since Charles went down), but Ware is someone to absolutely keep an eye on. Especially if you're an NFL defender. If you don't, he might just run right over you.