We’re 13 days away from training camp, so now it’s time for our 13th bold prediction for the San Diego Chargers.
Bold Prediction No. 13: Melvin Gordon will rush for over 1,000 yards and finish with at least six TDs
We talked about our quarterback for the first prediction, and now we’re moving on to the running back.
Melvin Gordon came into last season with high expectations. I mean, he was the team’s first pick in 2015. Not only that, but he led the FBS in rushing yards (2,587) and rushing touchdowns (29) in 2014.
Unfortunately, the former Badger couldn’t replicate the success he had in college. He finished his rookie year with 641 yards on 184 carries. The worst part: he finished the season without scoring a single touchdown.
You’d have more luck “catching them all” in Pokémon Go over that span. Gordon’s effort level was there, but his ability to sniff out the lane evidently lacked. He hesitated constantly, and it seemed as if he was taken down behind the line more often than not.
The blame shouldn’t be entirely put on him, though. The offensive line play was putrid. According to Pro Football Focus, the Chargers had the worst offensive line in the NFL (32nd pass-blocking rank, 31st run-blocking rank). That, and the fact that nobody could stay healthy, really put a pause on Gordon’s development. Also, Frank Reich’s playcalling did Gordon no favors.
But in comes Ken Whisenhunt to turn everything around. His re-hiring is a big reason why I see Gordon rebounding in Year 2. When Whisenhunt was calling the plays in 2013, the Chargers finished fifth in the league in yards per game and 12th in scoring. Ex-Chargers running back Ryan Mathews finished with 1,255 rushing yards and six touchdowns that season.
The Chargers want Gordon to thrive. Aside from bringing back Whisenhunt, they drafted fullback Derek Watt, Gordon’s mate at Wisconsin, and tight end Hunter Henry, who will look to make an impact in both the passing and running game. They also upgraded the center position (the part of the line that really needed help) with the selection of Max Tuerk and free-agent signing of Matt Slauson. Hopefully, the offensive line will gel in Year 2 as well.
Overall, it comes down to Gordon. Even though he underwent microfracture surgery in January, he reportedly has been running hard and impressed coaches at minicamp.
Forget about last year: if Gordon—and the offense—stay healthy, I see him easily reaching those numbers.