Is This the Best Chargers’ Offense Since 2007?

By Matt Pagels
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2014: Ryan Mathews – 26 years old                              2007: LaDainian Tomlinson – 28 years old

Donald Brown – 27 years old                                           Michael Turner – 25 years old

Danny Woodhead – 29 years old                                    Darren Sproles – 24 years old

Branden Oliver – 23 years old                                         Andrew Pinnock – 27 years old

LaDainian Tomlinson is considered to be one of the best players in franchise history. The future Hall of Famer was a big part of San Diego’s success. He was the leader when Rivers was still a young-en. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it to the big game and will go down as one of the best players ever to not reach a Super Bowl. He consistently had spectacular regular season performances, and even had the most touchdowns in a single season (2006) with 31; but when it came to the playoffs, Tomlinson could not produce as he was injured. Video of Tomlinson sitting on the bench by himself with his helmet on and jacket hurled over him is what people remember when you mention ‘2007 AFC Championship.’

But Tomlinson alone beats 2014’s squad..slightly. That’s fine because championships are won by a team, not one player. Behind Tomlinson was Michael Turner and Darren Sproles, and this group was arguably the most talented/dynamic. Turner eventually went on to become the Falcons’ starting running back, and Sproles went to New Orleans and won a championship.

Ryan Mathews came in to replace Tomlinson, but the expectations were too high, respectively. He was dubbed a bust by many fans until last year season when he had a career year (1,255 yards and six touchdowns). The great thing about Mathews is he’s only 26 years old. He has the talent to be one of the top running backs in the league, but health has been an issue. He’s played one full season in four years, and now a sprained MCL will keep him out for at least four weeks in 2014. Adding former Colt Donald Brown in free agency now makes Telesco look like a genius–if it hadn’t already.  With the skill-set Danny Woodhead provides, the Chargers had finally created its three-headed monster it long-awaited for.

Don’t sleep on 2014 undrafted free agent Branden Oliver either. He reminds me of a mix between Sproles and 49ers running back Frank Gore. He’s short (listed at 5’8”) and has shifty feet to squeeze between the tacklers and blow by them with speed, and he’s also powerful enough to lower his pads and fight for extra yards up the middle. With Mathews injured, Oliver could see some reps in upcoming weeks.

Even though it’s early, the rushing attack, well, hasn’t attacked. The Chargers are ranked 25th overall in rushing yards. The inability to run the football consistently and effectively is noticeable; between Mathews, Brown and Woodhead, they have 46 carries for 127 yards (2.5 average per carry) and one touchdown. You know it’s not a good sign when Rivers has more rushing yards than Brown..

Advantage: 2007