December 2, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) runs for a short gain during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Poll Position: Can Ryan Mathews Gain 1,000 Yards?

(Cast Your Vote At The Bottom)

What to do about Ryan Mathews? It seems to come up a lot, doesn’t it?

Viewpoints range from “give him ONE more chance”, to “cut him”, to “we are stuck with him“, to “he just hasn’t had the opportunity to flourish under Norv Turner”. Whatever your viewpoint is, it’s probably partnered with some serious frustration. Except for that lone Pro-Bowl year (where he was a third “alternate”), he has not lived up to the expectations of a 1st round draft pick.

Mathews has clear problems on the field, whether we like it, or not. After setting out to prove that he is not the “China Doll” some suspected he was, he ended up breaking two collarbones in 2012. That just about sealed the deal on that label. His fumble-itis was another concern going into 2012. As soon as he returned, he immediately put the ball on the ground at the worst possible moment.. earning him a spot in Norv’s doghouse, and on the bench. Again, he pretty much validated those concerns there. He finished off the season with only one touchdown, putting a big fat dunce cap on a season where he was supposed to break out. If you ask me, his vision is what’s really holding him back from breaking off those big runs. So, hopefully they can help him with that.

As if this weren’t bad enough, he has been pretty good at drawing some unwanted “off-season” media attention over the last couple of years. Last year, it was crashing his car “coming home from his Mom’s house” at midnight. This year, it is a case of mis-information, involving an arrest story. As we know, it turned out to be false. At a glance, both of these incidents seem somewhat innocent. However, I keep thinking to myself “Was there ever a time when I crashed my car on the freeway at midnight”? Despite a fender-bender here & there, I have never come close to doing something like that. I have partied at the Gaslamp clubs downtown plenty of times myself. But, I have always had the foresight not to “regularly” be spotted partying at clubs like that. I realized very quickly that you can get in a ton of trouble down there, doing that type of thing. Especially, when you are a single guy, an NFL player, and have tons of money. Trouble seems to find that kind of scenario, as we have seen throughout the NFL many times before.

Ryan is young, and he deserves to have some fun. But, I think I speak for a lot of people (including the players) when I say that Mathews is already under a lot of scrutiny. These moves are not showing wisdom, or the actions of someone that has learned his lesson. He just got done pissing off a lot of his teammates (whether he is right, or wrong), by saying on national television that the team was “complacent” last year. I actually agree with him, but it didn’t go over well in the locker room AT ALL! Even Mathews has recently admitted that he needs to study harder, after being singled out by Ladanian Tomlinson. Players from the team also agreed with Tomlinson, prompting Ryan to come to this realization. I like Ryan, but if you are looking for an example of somebody who can’t get out of his own way, he is most definitely it. When you add the major on the field concerns, with the minor off the field concerns… the concern is approaching code red.. one could even say “Defcon 4”!

Well, that’s enough beating up on the young man. For all of his shortcomings, I can see great potential in him. When he IS healthy, and not coughing up the ball.. he is a pretty darn good running back. If he can improve his vision, and learn how to get out of bounds (instead of charging for an extra yard that isn’t there) he could change some people’s minds. It would be wonderful if he could have that elusive “break out year”, that we are all holding our breaths in anticipation of. The talent is there, but the focus needs to be there, as well. Hopefully, the new strength & conditioning staff is making him their #1 priority! He needs to be face-down in his playbook, and watching film at his house.. not partying downtown.

This leads us to our poll question. How many yards do you think Ryan Mathews will have this season? I know it is a little bit premature, as we still don’t know if this is the backfield we will start the season with. But, use an “if the season started today” approach. Please comment below, letting us know what you voted for, and why you voted that way. With all of the controversy surrounding Ryan Mathews, and our rushing attack, I’m certain there are a multitude of different opinions out there.

Keep Bolting Toward Excellence!

Peter Thompson

 

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