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.