Advanced Touches - Week 16
Prior to the 2011 season, I wrote an ill-fated Contrarian column recommending Jamaal Charles as the No. 1 overall pick. While it’s been mostly lost in the furor surrounding Adrian Peterson’s story, Charles is also returning from a significant ACL injury, although he had several extra months to rehab. The Chiefs have been the worst team in the NFL this season, and their play at the quarterback position has been woeful enough to neutralize the offense despite the abilities of Dwayne Bowe and Charles. Unless it’s on an 80-plus yard touchdown run, the Chiefs simply cannot score. This has resulted in stacked boxes for JC Superstar that rival those faced by the Purple Jesus. All of which makes Charles’ performance even more extraordinary.
My thesis then and now is that Charles freakishly excels in accumulating yards before contact or Vision Yards. Charles 5.4 yards per carry average is well off of his career clip – he’s still averaging nearly a yard more than Peterson in career yards per carry – but remains impressive considering the context. What’s more stunning is his continued ability to gain Vision Yards behind a mediocre offensive line and when everyone knows what’s coming. In Week 16 Charles bounced back from a negative number in the VYA department against the moribund Raiders and used several breathtaking runs to notch an 8.4.That raises his 2012 VYA to 3.1, identical to the number he averaged in 2010 when he nearly eclipsed Jim Brown’s single-season yards per carry record.
No one in the NFL is particularly close to Charles in this category. I’ve been raving about AP’s improved ability to diagnose and explode to the hole, but at 2.1 VYA he’s a full yard per carry behind. C.J. Spiller (2.6) and Chris Johnson (2.6) come in second, a half yard behind Charles.
Charles now trails only Peterson, Megatron, and Doug Martin in yards from scrimmage, and he could move back into the top half of the first round next season if the Chiefs manage to competently re-envision their organization.
It’s unfortunate C.J. Spiller injured his shoulder earlier this season and fell back into a timeshare with Fred Jackson, because otherwise we might be looking at two historically good seasons instead of just one. His 6.5 yards per carry average ranks first in NFL history among runners with at least 150 carries. His 179 Elusive Rating last week pushed him to 109 on the season, increasing his edge over AP in this category to 39 points.