Dec 2, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) waits to come out of the tunnel during introductions before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Mathews Unable To Shoulder The Load of Primary Back

December 9, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) rushes the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The San Diego Chargers won 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


As many of you know from reading my articles, and/or following me on Twitter, I have made it clear that we all need to give Ryan Mathews the opportunity to show that he is capable of being the primary ball carrier in the San Diego offense.

While attempting to coax people into allowing him time to grow into the position, he has proven that he is not a number one option at running back. 

Whether it be his multiple injuries or fumbles,  Mathews has shown that he was not worth the number 12 pick in the first round of the draft in 2010. 

The sentimental part of me has found it nearly impossible to not root for Mathews.  After hearing the facts about his father leaving before he was born, spending the first four months of his life living out of an automobile with his mother, and the struggles he went through as a child, I couldn’t help but want to see him succeed. 

When the Chargers traded up to the 12th pick with Miami, I was actually hoping it was to select Mathews.  If it wasn’t for him, I was hoping for safety Earl Thomas.  Obviously the Bolts chose Mathews. 

Despite some flashes here and there, he has not done much of anything to show he can be an impact player at this level.  In addition to the ball control issues and health concerns, Mathews is undeniably unable to make the last guy miss.  He explodes through the line but when it gets down to beating the last defender he is stopped in his tracks. 

That is a trait that separates pretty good running backs from the great ones.  His career long rush is 40 yards.  Not to say that’s anything to sneeze at, but he has had multiple chances to make a good play into a game changing play and not done so.

During the 2012 season, Mathews managed to break twice as many clavicles as he scored touchdowns.  That is not a distinction that any player would like to have under his belt.

Although I haven’t given up complete hope on Mathews ability to contribute for the Chargers, it is clear that we are now forced into the position of either finding his eventual replacement or his “right now” replacement.  It would be a mistake for me to not bring up the fact that he hasn’t had much of an offensive line to open holes for him.  But even when the holes have been there the results have left a lot to be desired.

It is a bit frustrating to think that, amongst so many other holes, we might have to address the running back position with a marquee free agent or an early draft pick.  That frustration stems, obviously, from knowing that 2010 wasn’t that long ago.  And here we are again.

The future for Ryan Mathews as a Charger is as clear as mud at this point.  We can only hope that he proves us all wrong and becomes what he was selected to be as a Bolt. 

Only time will tell.


Thanks a lot for reading.






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  • Nick in PB

    I hate to admit it, because I really like Mathews but BoogaP is correct. We do need to address the RB position. Mathews is more of a 3rd down back. I like what he does when he has the opportunity to receive the ball in open spaces. However, as a 3rd down back, you also have to be able to block. So where does that really leave Mathews? Battle and Brown didn’t show me much. Brown, not bad as a 3rd down back but he always seems to run straight into the tacklers? Battle had that one good game but rarely saw the field after that. We do need to address the RB position. Like you said, it was 2010 and we are already starting to realize that we have nada back there.

    • Pete Spinning

      I regretfully agree, Nick (and BoogaP). The main concerns going into last season were his health, and his fumbleitis. He had a chance to put those labels to rest in 2012. Instead, he broke BOTH collarbones, and got benched for fumbling when he was actually able to play. It couldn’t have gone any worse for the kid. 2 collarbones? That’s almost unheard of! It wasn’t even like he re-broke the same one. That has to suck : /

      • Nick in PB

        No doubt Pete… what was suppose to be a breakout year for the young man turned to raise more doubts about him. He’ll get his chances with the new staff but he has a lot to overcome.

  • tbell11

    Jonathan Franklin in round 3 would be a good pick, he’s like a Darren Sproles 2.0.

  • James P Derrick

    Let’s just hope they get the O Line situation fixed first and foremost! When Rivers became “The Man” we all knew this was gonna be a pass happy team….IF the new regime wants to balance out the O attack, they’ll get it figure out….sooner hopefully than later…Go Chargers!

  • miketuck

    Another article judging a Chargers player not being as hyped when they played with the worst Offensive line in the NFL. Runningbacks, QB’s and the WR can only play as good as their O-line. Quite a few fans and writers opinions have been lets inprove our defense and again we show the fans thinking along those lines as the Chargers failed the last 3 seasons because poor Oline play and it dealt with very poor management and cost a great lineman Deilman to cut his career short playing to do the jobs of 23 players. The same could be said of Hardwich who hasn’t been playiong at 100% for some time. The line not only should be top notch but deep. When defensive players are pounding your QB an d RB behind the line constantly your not going to see what your possibilitys are. Rivers was the most sacked QB in the game, that says it all. The run blocking wasn’t any better.
    The Chargers GM refused to upgrade and use a important offseason when money and freeagents were available to draft by ego, not by need. It could have cost Rivers his finist year. A team is all 22 players, but the Oline is a team unto itself, it is responsible for ball control, being a unit in blocking sceems, and can carry a offense or make them overplay. To put Rivers, Mathews or any of the offensive weapons careers to a judgement behind a make shift line for every year they’ve started is just crazy. Get Bush, run a 2 RB attack like the niners and alot of teams are going back to, and use them 50-60% of the plays behind a sound Oline and your pasing game is gioing to be explosive as hell. There’s only 3-7 secounds to get rid of the ball. the Chargers couldn’t give 3 secounds to their leader.

  • miketuck

    Mathews has made his own blunders and not being in in tip top shape is to blame alot. The coaching for the whole team needs to lift their disaplend of the players to either be ready or be replaced. Turners play calling was for Emmett Smith not Mathews. Your especially not playing to your players strenghths when your Ol-ne is that bad. Mathews came in with a surfer attitude that the Chargers get pinned with, and there’s alot to that. Livine in a oasis makes it hard to disaplend yourself. Under the current management I think that won’t happen and the thinking of the Charger players will change too. If they get a A-1 Oline coach as feedback for Drafting and hiring freeagent Olinemen it will result in someone getting 8 guys to play as a unit no matter whom their playing with. You have to have a starters atitude to replace and play disapplend ball. Mathews has the posibility of exploding behind a great line, and by having Bush come home and help take them to the SAB is Ideal, it’s tipping their hat to him and he can return kicks and be a 3rd down back, and play in a 2 back offense with Mathews. Half the pounding and a way to keep them fresh yet in the game. Bush hasn’t been played to his strengths for 16 games yet and has alot to prove to his hometown. Brown, Floyd, Alexander, and Royal are great if they aren’t being sent deep every play. Turner’s Cowboy offense without a Cowboy Oline was a disaster. Play to the strength of your weapons. That gives your threat alot of power as all weapons get involved.
    I look to the new GM seeing that Phillips, Rivers, Mathews and the great players they’ve had are good enough to go. They just needed a Oline and a coach that looks to his players strenghths. Phillips wasn’t drafted to cover the recievers, but the last few years he’s done that more than get to the QB yet the choire keeps blaming the player. Turner hurt the offense and defense by playing players to his liking unsted of knowing their strengths and attacking with them.
    So this off season look at the team as your family, their all still players, look to draft for depth and a Oline. Spend every last extra cent to get a quality Oline and coach. Then root on your Chargers in a positive manner. We all knew Turner was killing the team, we got what we wanted. Now hope they straighten the team to the same focus.