Author’s note: All historical statistical information below is according to Pro Football Reference.

By Adam Dobrowolski
Cold, Hard Football Facts turbo dog of data

After two historically disastrous weeks against the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions to start the season, a 20-17 loss on the road to the San Diego Chargers seems to be a godsend for the Kansas City Chiefs. Suddenly, the pundits and trolls alike can give the Chiefs a puncher’s catch to earn a few wins and move out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Yes, it’s a morbid start to the 2011 season in Missouri.
Despite the team’s “resurgence” in San Diego, there was one bleak silver lining: Kansas City will definitely miss running back Jamaal Charles as he recovers from his season-ending ACL injury. As a team, the Chiefs totaled only 81 yards on 27 carries, which results in a flat three-yard average per carry.
Before his season ended Week 2 in Detroit, Charles was putting together an argument as one of the most consistently dominant running backs in NFL history.
Take time to digest that claim, because the Cold Hard Football Facts believe in Kansas City’s Turbo Lover. As you begin to jam about to some Judas Priest, check out four monster reasons why Charles could be pursuing the history books when he returns to the field in 2012.
ONE- Charles ran for 1467 yards last year on 230 carries, averaging an astounding 6.38 yards per carry. Only one back in NFL history average more yards per carry in a single season (with at least 150 carries). That guy? Jim Brown. Perhaps you heard of him.
To look at this a bit further, consider the previous six running backs in AAFC, AFL or NFL history to average at least six yards per carry with at least 150 carries in a single season:
  • Barry Sanders, 1997: 335 carries, 2053 yards, 6.13 YPC
  • O.J. Simpson, 1973: 332 carries, 2003 yards, 6.03 YPC
  • Jim Brown, 1963: 291 carries, 1863 yards, 6.40 YPC
  • Joe Perry, 1954: 173 carries, 1049 yards, 6.06 YPC
  • Marion Motley, 1948: 157 carries, 964 yards, 6.14 YPC
  • Orban “Spec” Sanders, 1947: 231 carries, 1432 yards, 6.20 YPC
Again, Charles meets up some good company. Only Spec Sanders failed to make the Pro Football Hall of Hame, while only Simpson finished his carries with less than 5.0 yards per carry.
TWO- Charles also averaged more than six yards per carry during the second half of the 2009 season, capped off by his 259-yard performance during the season finale in Denver. Charles ran for 968 yards on 161 carries, good for a 6.01 YPC average. As a result, he became only the sixth running back since 1960 to run for 800 yards in the final eight games of the regular season and average at least six yards per carry.
Combine his 2010 total with his second half totals from 2010, and Charles totaled 2435 yards on 391 carries, which results in an amazing 6.23 YPC average. Remember, only Jim Brown topped that total in a single season.
THREE- Charles ran for at least 5.0 YPC in 12 of 16 games last season, setting an NFL record for a running back since 1960. The previous mark was set by Ronnie Harmon in 1991, and he ran for 544 yards on only 89 carries in that season.
Charles rushed at least 10 carries in every game last season. Meanwhile, Harmon rushed a season-high 10 times in Week 13 against the New York Jets in 1991. Clearly, Charles faced a much stiffer challenge to maintain his high per-carry average.
Besides Charles, of all running backs with at least 150 carries in a single season since 1960, only Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk ran for at least 5.0 YPA in at least 10 games. Dickerson did so in 1984, when he ran for an NFL-record 2105 yards. Meanwhile, Faulk achieved the feat in 1999, when he totaled 2429 yards from scrimmage.
FOUR- In his last 28 games, Charles ran for at least 5.0 yards per carry 21 times. Considering that only two other running backs ran for at least 5.0 YPA in at least 10 games during a single season, Charles is all by himself in achieving this feat. (Dickerson ran for at least 5.0 yards per carry 15 times in a 28-game span from 1983 to 1984. Faulk did so 14 times in a 28-game span from 1999 to 2000.)
Clearly, Charles deserves merit for putting together one of the most dominant spans of running in league history. However, for Charles to become an all-time great running back, he’ll need to return to form in 2012 and put a strong 5-8 year span of football.
Come 2012, it will definitely be a treat to see what Charles can do to recover from his ACL injury. Until then, Kansas City must try to survive in the running game without its turbo lover.