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Mailbag: Running backs who think they're as good as Jamaal Charles

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As of the time of this writing, the "legal tampering" period is about to begin. Which means that at least some of the things I'll be writing about will be obsolete / ridiculous / pointless by the time this gets published.

So, about the usual, right?

Anyway, I JUST found out the Chiefs released Vance Walker (a favorite of mine who did well when given a shot) and signed Josh Mauga (basically the opposite) to a three year deal. Which leaves me feeling ... feelings. And so, it's time to distract myself with the mundane and meaningless.

Let's mailbag. As always, email to or tweet to me (@RealMNchiefsfan) with mailbag questions.

(Side note; my introductions are just getting tighter and tighter, no? I'm really excited for the day I just start in the middle of the article)

The 3rd best RB in the league was just traded for Kiko Alonso. What would it take for you to trade the best RB in the league Jamaal Charles?

Blaize Richardson (Chiefs fan from Joplin)

Is it OK for us, as Chiefs fans, to officially start looking down on people who try and question the greatness of Jamaal Charles? It seems like every year (even since he got started) there's a new guy who is considered right up with with JC, or even better.

Seriously, this crap has been going on since 2009, when Charles burst onto the scene with an ungodly second half of the season. Since then, national fans / pundits / whoever have crowned various "other guys" as JC's equal.

Among those who have come and gone as guys people consider JC's equal or superior as a player: Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, C.J. Spiller (I heard that WAY too much for a year or so), Matt Forte, Ray Rice, and on it on it goes.

LeSean McCoy was the latest and (arguably) greatest of the group. I had more people tell me Shady was better than Charles than I care to remember after 2013, when McCoy benefited from the best run-blocking offensive line in the league and a system that was brand new to the NFL. Turn that run-blocking into "decent" and give the NFL a year to adapt? Suddenly McCoy's tendency to dance goes from "superb cutter" to "guy who won't go north / south."

Just watch Jamaal run the football. Then watch Bell, Murray, or any of the other so-called "elite" backs in the NFL do the same. It's not close.

The newest guy everyone is calling the best in the NFL? Marshawn Lynch (you'll note I'm omitting Adrian Peterson from this discussion. We'll talk when he's back). Is Lynch perhaps the most formidable challenger JC has faced? Absolutely. He's got power AND vision that very few runners have.

That said, I'd be willing to bet anything Charles will outlast Marshawn as an elite-level back. And in case you're looking at JC's rushing totals from last season and saying "elite? Are you sure?"... Yes, I'm sure. Just watch Jamaal Charles run the football. Then watch LeVeon Bell, DeMarco Murray, or any of the other so-called "elite" backs in the NFL do the same. It's not close.

Beast Mode is the only player in the NFL right now who can even come close to producing what Charles can on a per-carry basis regardless of blocking. And even he relies more on good blocking than Charles.

What separates Jamaal Charles from virtually every other running back in the league is that his greatness is not hinged on his blocking. He will be productive regardless of what the offensive line looks like (and boy, have the Chiefs tried to prove that since he came to the scene). He's special, and he's a Hall Of Fame candidate one day if his health holds up.

All that said ... what does it take to replace him? Well, there are a few things that separate him from Shady McCoy. First, he's just better. Second, JC's cap hit is $3 million dollars lower than Shady's next year, and is lower every other year after (though not by as much).

That said, running back is a position where you can find a "decent" guy without too much trouble. The problem? That "decent" guy will absolutely depend on good blocking. So you've already set your offense back a mile unless you can improve everywhere else.

I personally wouldn't trade Jamaal Charles for less than a top 10 pick in this year's draft, and even then I'd think about it (barring a pick that could snag an elite QB) and probably say "no." Jamaal is a rarity; an offensive player you can build your team around who ISN'T a quarterback. There are two of those on NFL teams right now; Charles and Lynch. It would be absurd to trade him away for less than a bounty of picks.

Running backs: do we stick with Cyrus Gray or is his time done after this year?  Seems like a lot of good potentials in this years draft class....

James "Tim" Henley, Life long Chiefs fan (GO DEBERG!!), originally from Missouri, currently stuck for a good while in DC

I'm on the record as being a gigantic Cyrus Gray homer. Of course, that was before he had a really, really, really rough showing in the playoffs against the Colts.

That said ... man, I just like the way the guy moves when he's got the ball in his hands. In limited (VERY limited) action, I genuinely think he looks more like a running back than Knile Davis when it comes to finding holes to exploit and running with authority. I think the guy could play if he ever gets over the mental block of freezing when the lights were on in January.

He's under contract for very cheap and is a major special teams contributor, so I see him with the Chiefs through 2015. After that will likely depend on whether he thinks he can get more RB snaps elsewhere. Because it clearly ain't happening here.

Can you please get to the bottom of what happened to Donald Stephenson when he returned from his suspension? He was better in 2013 than Harris in 2014, is a great mauler and above average pass protector and there was even talk about moving him to right guard. What happened instead was a few special teams appearances and not a word of explanation.

Thanks, Napa Hobbs

I very much have no idea whatsoever what happened with Donald Stephenson this season. It's genuinely baffling.

There is clearly a lot more going on here than simply what was happening on the field (though I'm on record that Stephenson struggled mightily in limited action against the Broncos. To be fair though, he was thrown into an impossible spot). For whatever reason, the coaching staff just did not use Stephenson.

We saw the same thing with Vance Walker. Every time he was on the field he played well. But for some reason, Walker continued to see very little playing time as Dontari Poe once again was asked to spend too many snaps on the field. And now Walker has been released.

One thing is very clear with the Dorsey / Reid regime; they are not afraid to not play players who have some ability if they don't like the "fit" for whatever reason. Does that drive us all crazy? Of course. Is it good in the long term? Well ... that remains to be seen.

What movie or theatrical version of a book was actually better that the book in your opinion?


Man, that's a tough question. As you no doubt no, virtually every screenplay release of a book is inferior to its source material. It's just the nature of the beast; you CANNOT fit everything from a book onto the screen. Even with television a ton of stuff gets cut out (such as with Game Of Thrones).

Now, I'm limited to stuff I've both read AND watched. And I'm sad to say my "fun time" reading has been severely limited over the course of the last decade or so, as family / work / football have taken precedence. And it's going to be limited to whatever ones I see on the online lists I looked at (because let's face it, I'm going to forget a couple).

I think the only pair of movies (yep, it's a pair) I'd call absolutely superior to the source material are "The Godfather" and "The Godfather, Part 2."

I've read the novel and it's solid, make no mistake. I enjoyed reading it. That said, the characters in the novel don't hold a candle to what Pacino, Caan, and Brando did with Michael, Sonny and Vito. And then what De Niro did with Young Vito? Sheesh...

I know this might seem like a copout answer (because it's the obvious one), but I can't think of another time when the characters depicted on-screen were actually "larger" than the characters created by written word. Fellow nerds, think about Aragorn in "Lord of the Rings." Hey, dude was awesome in the movies, right? But does he even hold a candle to the guy in Tolkien's novels? Of course not.

The answer, as always, is "The Godfather."

I'm looking forward to more free agency moves that infuriate me. Good times, man. good times.

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