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Examiner
  • Stephen Brown: Run game must be KC's strength

  • "The starters did well tonight, that's all anybody really needs to know," said a Chiefs fan after Kansas City's final preseason against the Green Bay Packers. "The starting defense did pretty good too. The backups just didn't get it done."

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  • "The starters did well tonight, that's all anybody really needs to know," said a Chiefs fan after Kansas City's final preseason against the Green Bay Packers. "The starting defense did pretty good too. The backups just didn't get it done."
    Thursday was more about a feeling than a win. I feel better, but not totally sure.
    In the little time I saw the starters, I was impressed. Practices before the Green Bay Packers had a better tempo. Players seemed to be more into practice and I think it showed Thursday night. Where my confidence waned was after the first quarter with the backups. Granted, many have been cut, but as I watched I realized Kansas City can't afford injury.
    Green Bay's backup quarterback Graham Harrell completed 13 of 15 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. It was Graham’s best game of the preseason. Kansas City has a bad habit of making struggling athletes look good.
    I have my fingers crossed that Kansas City doesn't suffer injuries like they did last season. With Derrick Johnson and Tyson Jackson injured, Kansas City has six defensive starters hurting. Scary stuff with the way Kansas City's backups played in preseason. Health needs to be on the Chiefs’ side in 2012!
    RUN IT: A big part of what Kansas City was trying to do against Seattle in the Chiefs’ third preseason game was find a passing game (Kansas City had 44 passing attempts while Charles and Hillis tallied eight combined carries). It didn't work; the passing game still needs work. Matt Cassel's one completion against Green Bay didn't change that. For now, playing catch-up through the air isn't a Chief strength.
    But running the ball can be. That was crystal clear against Green Bay.
    Until Brian Daboll gets somebody other than Dexter McCluster to sync with Cassel, Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis are Kansas City's best bets for gaining yards and scoring points.
    "The Jamaal Charles-Peyton Hillis backfield ... could be the NFL's best. It's the classic Mr. Inside (Hillis, a sledgehammer, at 250 pounds) and Mr. Outside (the shifty Charles weighs 199)," said Peter King of Sports Illustrated.
    Eric Winston was a big part of Houston's Arian Foster's success. From 2010–2011, Foster rushed for 2,840 yards with a 4.7 yard average for the Texans. Kansas City led the league in rushing in 2010 with Barry Richardson at right tackle. With Charles averaging five yards a carry his entire career, I believe Kansas City can do even better with Winston.
    What's the potential with Charles and Hillis?
    In 2010 Jamaal Charles ran 230 times with Thomas Jones carrying the ball 245 times. As a team, Kansas City led the league with 2,627 yards rushing. Charles had 1,467 yards and Jones had 896 yards rushing.
    Page 2 of 2 - In comparison, Hillis with the Cleveland Browns had 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010. With 270 carries, Hillis had 25 more attempts than Jones in 2010, but with those two dozen extra carries Hillis did much more.
    It's conceivable for Hillis to get the same workload with Kansas City as he did with Cleveland, especially with Charles on the mend. Also, why change Charles’ load? With Charles coming back from injury, it makes sense to keep him around his 2010 total. Hillis has shown he can carry the football as many times as you need, but Hillis can be very effective – providing Hillis runs like he did in 2010, which Hillis did in the preseason.
    The reality of Kansas City having two 1,000-yard rusher's isn't unrealistic. Charles did it on 230 carries and Hillis with 270 carries. Hillis averaged 4.4 yards a carry in 2010. Thomas Jones, with his 245 carries, averaged 3.7 yards a carry. Hillis finished the preseason averaging 5.7 yards a carry.
    Kansas City gaining 2,500 yards rushing as a team is very achievable, but busting it wide open and bettering their 2010 stats is just as doable.
    In 2006, the Atlanta Falcons rushed for 2,939 yards. Atlanta did it on 537 attempts; Kansas City had 534 attempts in 2010. The Chiefs didn't get the most out of every attempt with Jones. Jones on third and short became brutal.
    With Hillis, that shouldn't be the case, especially with Kansas City's improved offensive line. Seattle showed what a tougher defense can do, but overall the offensive line for Kansas City should be very good this season. With two backs like Charles and Hillis, I feel Kansas City can take advantage of every carry more so than in 2010.
    You can't run every down, but if things work like I hope, there could be lofty numbers for the run department. As the passing game improves, the offense will be that much better. But initially, the ground is where it's at for KC.
    I liked what I saw against Green Bay, but it confirmed that immediate results and wins will come via Charles and Hillis. It's not today's NFL, 2011 set a record for most 4,000-yard passing clubs, but Kansas City's offense is built to run.
    Against Atlanta, Kansas City has to go with what works and against the Packers what worked really well was the run.
    Good day, Chiefs fans!
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