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Insider Blog: 2 > 1

Posted Mar 16, 2010

Rushing tandems in KC, the NFL and an open search for a nickname

There have been a number of running back tandems in Kansas City.

Some have been memorable…

  • Abner Haynes and Curtis McClinton (1962)
  • Haynes/McClinton and Mack Lee Hill (1963-64)
  • McClinton and Mike Garrett (1966-67)
  • Ed Podolak and Wendell Hayes (1970)
  • Joe Delaney and James Hadnot (1981)
  • Barry Word and Christian Okoye (1990-92)
  • Marcus Allen and Greg Hill/Kimble Anders (1993-97)
  • Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson (2003-07)

For others, you’ll have to stretch your Chiefs knowledge a bit…

  • Ed Podolak and Willie Ellison (1973)
  • Ted McKnight and Horace Belton (1980)
  • Billy Jackson and Theotis Brown (1983)
  • Herman Heard and Mike Pruitt (1985)
  • Pruitt and Boyce Green (1986)
  • Christian Okoye and Paul Palmer (1988)
  • Donnell Bennett and Bam Morris (1998-99)

Whether the names of those who split the backfield jump off the pages or quietly hide behind them, hundreds of different players have logged rushes over the 50-year history of Chiefs football. Of all those runners, no backfield tandem in the franchise’s history has entered a season quite like the pair of runners that Kansas City has lined up for 2010.

For the first time in franchise history, the Chiefs will go into a season with two 1,000-yard rushers from the season before. Thomas Jones finished third in the NFL with 1,402 rushing yards in 2009, while Jamaal Charles finished just one spot out of the top 10 with 1,120 yards on the ground.

Speaking of 1,000-yard rushers, the Chiefs have churned out 13 total seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher. The first was Mike Garrett in 1967 and the most recent was Charles in 2009.

Most Rushing Yards, Season (All 1,000 )

1,789 – Larry Johnson, 2006

1,750 – Larry Johnson, 2005

1,615 – Priest Holmes, 2002

1,555 – Priest Holmes, 2001

1,480 – Christian Okoye, 1989

1,420 – Priest Holmes, 2003

1,121 – Joe Delaney, 1981

1,120 – Jamaal Charles, 2009

1,087 – Mike Garrett, 1967

1,053 – Tony Reed, 1978

1,049 – Abner Haynes, 1962

1,031 – Christian Okoye, 1991

1,015 – Barry Word, 1990

With Jones’ aid, Charles may find it easier to stay healthy of the course of a 16-game season. able to etch his name into the franchise books on more than one occasion. Jones, on the other hand, has found himself in the 1k club five times over his 10-year career. All five of those seasons have come in the last five years when Jones has been age 27 and up. It’s often easy to forget that Charles is only 22 years old.

It will be nearly impossible to see both Charles and Jones rush for over 1,000 yards in 2010, but if Jones can successfully notch 100 carries or more, Charles will likely become a better runner and hopefully the 14th player in franchise history to turn in a 1,000-yard season.

The 100-carry barrier for secondary runners seems to be a number to key in on. Jones is a first-hand example of this as his two finest seasons each came when his team’s second-leading rusher totaled 100 or more rushes in a season (Cedric Benson in 2006 and Shonn Greene in 2009).

The best rushing teams in the league have been operating under a shared rushing load for quite some time. Over the last 10 years, the top rushing team in the league has seen a player other than its primary rusher carry the football 100 times on eight occasions. It’s actually been six years since a team led the league in rushing without a second player carrying the football 100 or more times.

2009 – N.Y. Jets, Shonne Greene (108 carries)

2008 – N.Y. Giants, Derrick Ward (182 carries)

2007 – Minnesota, Chester Taylor (157 carries)

2006 – Atlanta, Mike Vick (124 carries)

2005 – Atlanta, T.J. Duckett (121 carries)

2004 – Atlanta, Mike Vick (120 carries)

2002 – Minnesota, Daunte Culpepper (106 carries)

2001 – Pittsburgh, Chris Muamatu-Ma’afala (120 carries)

The two exceptions came in 2000 and 2003. In 2000, Oakland saw Napoleon Kauffman churn out 93 carries as a reserve runner, nearly reaching the 100-carry mark behind Tyrone Wheatley. In 2003, Baltimore ran Jamal Lewis into the ground with 393 carries. The Ravens second-leading rusher, Chester Taylor, saw just 63 carries.

Entering a season with plans to fully utilize two separate runners is a new phenomenon for Kansas City. Over the past decade of football, Kansas City has entered a season with little or no interest in seeing two players churn out over 100 carries. The Chiefs have had the “two with 100” rushing scenario happen a few times over the past 10 seasons, but each time the hand was forced due to an injury-shortened season for Priest Holmes or an injury/suspension season involving Larry Johnson.

Since 2000, when a feature back in Kansas City has been healthy for the majority of a season, Kansas City hasn’t even sniffed two separate runners chugging out 100 carries a piece. If the Chiefs plan on implementing a true complimentary rushing system in 2010, shouldn’t a nickname for the Charles/Jones be created?

In a quick brainstorming session yesterday (in the Chiefs break room) these five gems were churned out in less than a minute.

“The Magic Men (now you see them, now you don’t)”

“Peanut Butter and Jelly”

“Crash and Dash”

“Shake and Bake”

“Sugar and Spice”

Surely the Chiefs Kingdom can come up with something better before Opening Day.

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