Austin Ekeler will be asked to carry the ball more this season, but how has he fared in featured roles with the Chargers?
Austin Ekeler is one of the more productive and efficient second running backs to play for the Chargers over the last few decades, with numbers over two years similar to or better than Darren Sproles. He’s one of the many undrafted free agents turned playmaking stars Tom Telesco has acquired over his tenure with the Chargers.
Currently listed as the first-string running back, Ekeler has a chance to top 1,000 total yards in a season for the first time in his career. Though his average yards per carry and reception are comparable to any elite back, his lack of volume has kept his overall numbers and scores from increasing.
With Melvin Gordon potentially missing the start of the season, if not the entire year, much buzz has been generated about who the lead back should be in this offense. Is it Ekeler, who is the veteran of the running back group, or Justin Jackson, the late-season hero who showed flashes of brilliance in limited action?
Fans voiced their opinion regarding who will lead the team in rushing yards, and here are the results:
Who leads the #Chargers in rushing yards this season?
— Bolt Beat (@BB_Chargers) August 5, 2019
Why the low votes for Ekeler, who ended up in third place in the poll? Jackson has been a rising favorite from fans who expect him to be the one to be the true lead back, but hasn’t Ekeler been just as efficient and for longer? Here’s the knock on No. 30: His featured games; at least, in the eyes of the fans.
How did he do in those featured games? Statistically, some of them (there are three total) are unquestionably disappointments. But instead of relying on statistics to say Ekeler was bad in some of his featured games, let’s look at what actually happened. Up first: The comeback in Pittsburgh.