Running back Jamaal Charles makes the Kansas City offense go, and he hasn’t been stopped this year.
Charles, one of the fastest players in the NFL, has at least 100 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in every game of the Chiefs’ 7-0 start. Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson is the only other player in NFL history to match the feat. Charles has 135 rushes for 561 yards, a 4.2 average and six touchdowns. He also leads the Chiefs with 36 catches for 337 yards (second on the team by 6) and two touchdowns. He’s third in the league in rushing, second with 898 scrimmage yards (behind Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy) and first with 51 first downs.
“He is their team, he leads the team in rushing and receiving and most touches,” Browns nose tackle Phil Taylor said. “We shut him down, they won’t be able to do anything.”
Charles is first in NFL history with an average of 5.55 yards a carry, topping Jim Brown’s 5.22. He has 15 runs of 10 yards this season. In a Week 14 loss to the Browns last year, he carried 18 times for 165 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown on the first play. Cleveland’s run defense ranks tied for ninth (99.0 yards per game) but has allowed more than 100 in three straight games.
“We’ve got to stay disciplined and stay in our gaps and get as many people, even when he’s downfield, to the ball as possible,” outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard said of Charles.
QUIET THE RIOT
Starting fast is always a good idea. It’s especially important on the road, as an underdog, with a new starting quarterback and in one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL. The Browns trailed 14-0 last week in Green Bay before they knew what hit them and were unable to recover. That can’t happen again in Arrowhead Stadium, where a Guinness world record was set Oct. 13 with a 137.5 decibel level in the fourth quarter vs. Oakland.
“That’s pretty incredible, and it was loud,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid said. “I mean real loud. Ground-shaking loud.”
“Yeah, it’s daunting to hear ‘the loudest in the league’ ’cause all the other places we’ve played have been pretty loud, too,” center Alex Mack said. “It’ll be a challenge.”
The Browns will use a silent count and go with hand signals on offense. Their best plan for dealing with the crowd is making plays early. That would also take a bite out of the Chiefs’ giant wave of momentum. If the Browns don’t take a lead, they’ll be in trouble. Kansas City doesn’t give away the ball or the lead. It’s fifth in the league in time of possession with 32:02 a game and has allowed only 39 points in the second half, 17 in the fourth quarter.
Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said the Browns know their formula for success: great defense, turnover-free offense and good special teams. A spark from the third group will be necessary if the Browns are going to pull the upset. Two of Cleveland’s three wins featured game-changing plays from the special teams and today should be no different.
Travis Benjamin and Fozzy Whittaker provide the hope in the return game. Benjamin had a team-record 93-yard punt return for a touchdown last year in a win over the Chiefs and has a 79-yarder for a TD this year plus an 86-yard kickoff return on his only try. Whittaker is new to the Browns but had a 56-yard kickoff return last week, which was good enough to replace Greg Little as the primary returner.
The Chiefs counter with strong returners in Dexter McCluster (punts) and Quintin Demps (kickoffs) and good coverage units. Chiefs coordinator Dave Toub was the boss of Cleveland’s Chris Tabor with the Bears and recommended him for the job with the Browns.
“You definitely have to go in knowing you can kind of swing (the game) in our balance,” kicker Billy Cundiff said. “We have that mindset each and every week.”
Starting quarterbacks for the Browns since 1999 once Jason Campbell takes the first snap today. The previous 19: Ty Detmer, Tim Couch, Doug Pederson, Spergon Wynn, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey, Bruce Gradkowski, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Thaddeus Lewis, Brian Hoyer
Pro Bowlers for Chiefs in 2012, when they finished 2-14 – safety Eric Berry, running back Jamaal Charles, punter Dustin Colquitt and linebackers Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson.
Team — the 2013 Chiefs – since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to start 7-0 after winning two or fewer games the previous year. They’re also the only team to start 7-0 with a new coach and quarterback.