COMMENTARY | To be anointed the MVP of the NFL, historically one would have to be the biggest name playing for one of the best teams in the entire league. In the case of Jamaal Charles, the Kansas City Chiefs' running back fits the bill in 2013.
While the Chiefs -- off to a 7-0 record to start the season -- are making their mark primarily on the defensive side of the ball, it is difficult to imagine where this team would be without Charles.
This brings up a key criterion when discussing who should be considered for the league's highest individual honor: indispensability.
Coming off an ACL injury in 2011, expectations for Charles were quelled a bit last season. But the running back went on to have his best year as a pro, notching career highs in rushing yards (1,509) and carries (285).
The obvious focal point of Kansas City's offense, even those numbers could not save the hapless Chiefs from finishing 2012 with a league-worst 2-14 record. Things have certainly reversed course in one season, however.
With Andy Reid taking over as head coach in Kansas City this past offseason, most were left again to ponder over just how much of a role Charles would play in the new Chiefs offense. And after seven games, those questions have been answered.
Charles has gained 561 yards and six touchdowns on 135 carries, in addition to tallying another 36 receptions for 337 yards and two scores in a passing offense that has struggled for much of the season. Other than the rushing yardage total, all are on pace to shatter previous career marks for the 26-year-old running back.
While not gaudy by any means, Charles -- who joined O.J. Simpson in Sunday's win over the Houston Texans as the only other running back in the history of the league to begin a season with at least 100 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown in each of his team's first seven games -- can be looked at as the model of consistency for a position that seems to be losing a bit of its luster in the new, pass-happy NFL.
Though Charles is averaging a career-low 4.2 yards per carry, Kansas City's reliance on his production has outgrown the need for the running back to be a home run threat every time he touches the football. While there is still a strong chance for the speedster to break off a long run -- which is obviously welcomed -- the success of this Chiefs team is predicated on a do-whatever-takes mantra.
Charles has accounted for 37.3 percent of Kansas City's total yards on offense, while also scoring eight of the team's 14 offensive touchdowns thus far. The Chiefs, however, plan on increasing his workload as the season shapes up.
"He's a guy who steadily wants a little more each week, a little more responsibility," said offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, "and the more he gets comfortable in our system and what we're asking him to do, we'll put a little more on his plate.
Charles could ultimately hold the key to the Chiefs' continued success this season. And should the formula keep producing wins, the league's MVP award might be his to lose.Jeremy Sickel has successfully created and operated numerous websites. His work can be read on Yahoo and Bleacher Report, and he has also appeared on various podcasts and sports talk shows around the country. Interact with Jeremy on Twitter @JeremySickel
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