Austin Ekeler puts blame on Chargers for awful 2023 season

Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Chargers
Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Chargers / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The LA Chargers are turning over a new leaf this offseason with several fan favorites now wearing different uniforms ahead of the 2024 season. One former fan favorite who was always expected to leave was Austin Ekeler, who signed a two-year deal with the Washington Commanders to reunite with Anthony Lynn.

Ekeler is coming off the worst season of his career and after failed extension and trade talks last season it was always obvious that he was going to leave the team. The Chargers never really seemed interested in bringing Ekeler back as the team quickly signed Gus Edwards as the first move of the offseason.

Ekeler is looking to bounce back in Washington and dodge accusations of age-related regression. The veteran running back looked a step slower in 2023 and his numbers took a massive hit. Although he was just a top-tier fantasy football running back 2-3 years ago, running backs age quickly in the NFL and many believe he is well past his prime.

Ekeler does not seem to believe that and actually explained why he struggled last year in his latest media availability after signing with Washington. An early-season ankle injury and the Chargers not calling the type of offense that best suits Ekeler was to blame for his struggles, not because of any regression.

Austin Ekeler blames Chargers' offense for 2023 regression

There is no doubt that the Chargers' offensive playcalling had some kind of impact on the running game last season. The entire selling point of hiring Kellen Moore was the goal of marrying the run to the pass and turning one of the worst rushing offenses in the sport into a good one.

That did not happen with Moore and the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback was not advertised as an offensive coordinator. While Moore definitely did do some good things while in Los Angeles, he was unable to overcome the loss of Corey Linsley and Mike Williams in Week 3. The offense after that, even with Justin Herbert playing, was worse than it should have been.

All that being said, it was clear last season that Ekeler had lost a step and was not as dynamic of a player as he was in the past. Part of that could have been the ankle, sure, but history says that the arrow is pointing directly down for Ekeler.

Perhaps the change of scenery will be beneficial to Ekeler, but he definitely won't return to being the running back he was a few seasons ago.