Chargers’ Week 1 Observation: Team must ride Melvin Gordon
By Travis Wakeman
Melvin Gordon not only shook off the rookie blues in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, he stomped them into the ground. The San Diego Chargers looked ready to do the same.
The first half could not have gone any better for San Diego as it went into Arrowhead Stadium and took it to Kansas City. The Chargers had a 21-3 halftime lead and were rolling, led by Melvin Gordon’s two (yes two) first-half rushing touchdowns. Gordon looked great and as a result, so did the rest of the team.
In that first half, Gordon was given nine carries and gained 46 yards, an average of 5.1 yards per carry. The run was setting up the pass and the offense was clicking.
Why then, did the coaching staff make the decision to completely go away from Gordon in the second half? Yes, Keenan Allen was lost with an injury and that obviously rattled those coaches to their core. But that’s all the more reason to rude your horse.
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Instead, Gordon was given just five carries in the second half. That is inexcusable. The team turned to Danny Woodhead and while Woodhead performed well, it made no sense to use Gordon so sparingly. For the day, Woodhead finished with 16 carries while Gordon was given just 14.
If the team wants to give Woodhead the majority of the offensive snaps, why did it use a first-round pick on Gordon last year? I could see if Gordon was still experiencing the struggles he had as a rookie, but as he’s shown in the preseason and now one half of a regular season game this year, he’s clearly not.
RB snaps for Chargers vs. Chiefs: Danny Woodhead 50, Melvin Gordon 23, Derek Watt 11.
— Eric Williams (@eric_d_williams) September 12, 2016
A first-round running back needs to be the workhorse. That’s why you picked him where you did. Gordon needs to get a minimum of 20 carries a game, but ideally even more. This will help take the pressure off Philip Rivers, who aired it out 36 times despite Allen being injured and also being without the services of Stevie Johnson.
This team is not going to win games with Rivers throwing the ball 35, 40, 45 times a game. It needs to sustain a balanced attack that takes advantage of time of possession, dictating the pace of the game to the opposition. That’s exactly what happened in the first half against the Chiefs, and for whatever reason, Mike McCoy and his staff went away from it.
Allen has been lost for the season, as reported by Ricky Henne of the team’s official website. If the Chargers want to have any chance of success the rest of the way this season, they need to churn out yardage on the ground in bunches.
If all they’re going to do is line up in shotgun with Woodhead next to Rivers and Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman and Travis Benjamin split out wide, it might as well be 2015 all over again.
Sunday against Kansas City, we saw the type of play-calling that would be expected out of former offensive coordinator Frank Reich, not Ken Whisenhunt.