When Ryan Mathews was sidelined by injury earlier this season, Donald Brown got his first shot at proving he was worthy of the contract he was given. The idea was to have a guy that could carry the weight, with Danny Woodhead, if Mathews were to be out for any amount of time. When Danny Woodhead went down, things didn’t look good for the Chargers ground game. Donald Brown was immediately given 30+ carries in one game, but could barely muster a couple of yards per carry. He did not look like the running back that Telesco hoped he could be. Ryan Mathews has to beg for more than twelve carries, so Donald Brown was definitely given his chance to make an impression.
However, all was not lost. Undrafted free agent Branden Oliver took that opportunity to prove that he belonged higher on the depth chart than the number four back. He came in and showed that he was a better running back than Brown. Telesco’s “insurance plan” may not have panned out. But, his “insurance to the insurance plan” did. Thank God that the Chargers were able to sign him back after foolishly letting him audition for the Colts. Thankfully, the Colts failed to recognize Oliver’s value, and he came back to San Diego to beat out Marion Grice, and Kerwynn Williams for a roster spot. No slight on Grice, but “Bo” has been very productive for this team.
Oliver first answered the bell by putting up 182 yards from scrimmage against one of the best defensive fronts in the league, and capped it off with two touchdowns. He was the key to the Chargers having their most complete game in years. Since then, things have calmed down a little bit for the youngster. Ryan Mathews is back, and he showing us what the struggling run game has been missing without him. However, Donald Brown was not moved back into the number two spot, upon returning from a serious concussion. Oliver made sure that he kept the second spot on the depth chart by keeping his legs churning. He fights for tough yards, he is shifty behind the line, and he brings the same type of element that Woodhead brings to this team. He may not be the same type of back as Woodhead, but he is certainly filling Woody’s shoes better than anyone else. He squeezes through holes like Woodhead, but he is a little thicker. This rushing attack needs that kind of player to succeed.
This week, we are facing the Ravens. The Chargers finally remembered in the last game that getting the ball out of River’s hands quickly, and running the no huddle offense is what worked so well for them last season. Every single pass, except for one pass to Ladarius Green, was a short pass. The running game was explosive, and Mathews had over a hundred yards on just twelve touches. Oliver had some nice runs too. That is what they will need to showcase in Baltimore today. Short passes, no huddle, dominant time of possession, and red zone efficiency. This starts by establishing the running game.
The Baltimore Ravens have a top five rushing defense. But, that’s what they said about the Jets. The Ravens are a much better team than the Jets, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have two backs that can get the job done. It’s something they will need to get going early, and put the Ravens on their heels. They will need to score quickly, and give Rivers a chance to take advantage of a weak secondary. When Mathews has the ball in his hands, we have a tendency to move the ball down the field steadily. They must not abandon the run game, and put the ball in River’s hands too much. He is a great quarterback, and I am expecting a great game from him. But, we need a balanced attack. Keep the chains moving, and keep the clock moving. We need the Mathews and Oliver One-Two Punch!Keep Bolting Toward Excellence!