The Chiefs only had the ball for 44 offensive plays in barely 21 minutes of time of possession in their loss to Denver last week, so running back Jamaal Charles had just 14 touches — 10 rushes, four receptions.
But offensive coordinator Doug Pederson realizes he has to get the ball into the hands of his best player during the next four games.
“These last couple of games we’ve gotten into situations where we’ve been behind, and we had to play catchup, and you end up throwing the ball, so touches are going to go down to some of your key guys,” Pederson said of losses to Oakland and Denver, an eight-quarter stretch in which the Chiefs’ only lead was for about 7 minutes in the fourth quarter against the Raiders.
Charles carried 19 times for 80 yards at Oakland and caught four passes, one for a touchdown. He rushed for 35 yards against the Broncos, his fewest in a game since week two, when he suffered a sprained ankle at Denver and missed the next week at Miami.
“We as a staff, and me as a coordinator, I have to allow him to touch the football as often as we can,” Pederson said. “You look at the stat sheet and look at the targets and the number of touches that guys get, and then you go back and say, ‘Oh, I wish I would have done this or I wish I would have done that, or more of this or less of that,’ after the game, win or lose.
“You say, ‘You know what, we should have given Dwayne (Bowe) two more targets, or given Jamaal two more or three more touches in a certain situation.’ But again, as the game unfolds, it sort of dictates how you spread the ball around, and it’s unfortunate that sometimes guys’ touches are sometimes going to go down or up based on game situations.”
The Chiefs were victims of a fake punt for the second time this season when the Broncos’ David Bruton ran for 13 yards from a punt formation on fourth and 7. Earlier this season, San Francisco successfully executed a fake punt, as did San Diego in the regular-season finale last year.
Why the susceptibility to the fake?
“We had a couple of guys out of position in the last game,” said Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub. “But in those situations, we are going to double (-team) the gunners. We are a return team. We take a little more risk than the other teams do. We don’t put a lot of guys in the box.
“I can probably help the guys out a little bit in situations where we think there’s going to be a fake by putting more guys inside the box, but we try to push the return game. We double the gunners, have six guys in the box, and they ran the sweep on us. We could do a better job of tackling and getting there and noticing it. “
The Chiefs said defensive lineman Allen Bailey and wide receiver Junior Hemingway, both coming off concussions, did not practice on Thursday. Outside linebacker Tamba Hali (knee), tight end Anthony Fasano (knee), guard Mike McGlynn (quadriceps) and wide receiver Donnie Avery (groin) were limited.
The Chiefs had no update on the prognosis of safety Eric Berry, who is in Atlanta receiving treatments for a mass in his chest feared to be lymphoma.
Arizona ruled safety Tyrann Mathieu (thumb) out for the game and said running back Andre Ellington (hip/foot), guard Paul Fanaika (ankle), linebacker Larry Foote (foot) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) did not practice. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee) was limited.