Chargers must finally realize that Austin Ekeler is no longer an RB1

Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots
Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots / Kathryn Riley/GettyImages

The LA Chargers edged past the New England Patriots on Sunday with an ugly 6-0 victory. An ugly win is better than a pretty loss and the Chargers made sure to win this game in the ugliest way possible.

The conditions made it nearly impossible for the Chargers to move the ball in the passing game, especially when Justin Herbert's weapons were plagued by drops. This was the perfect game for the Chargers to lean on the rushing attack, yet the Bolts couldn't even do that.

Los Angeles picked up 49 yards on the ground on 24 carries — an average of 1.2 yards per carry. It was as bad as it could have been for the Chargers and head coach Brandon Staley didn't shy away from the fact that the running attack was so bad after the game.

While the problems cannot be pinpointed on just one person, the Chargers lack of a running game this season is a bad reflection on Austin Ekeler. As great as Ekeler was in his prime, those days appear to be long gone.

Austin Ekeler's Chargers career is ending with a whimper

Ekeler carried the ball 14 times for 18 yards to average 1.3 yards per carry. This continues what has been the worst year of his career. Ekeler hasn't just been bad, though, he has been among the worst running backs in the entire sport.

Ekeler now has 446 yards in nine games played while averaging 3.5 yards per carry. He has found the endzone four times on the ground and one time in the passing game. Those numbers alone aren't terrible but they are heavily held up by a solid Week 1 that he and the Chargers haven't been able to replicate.

Outside of Ekeler's Week 1 showing, the veteran running back is averaging 2.99 yards per carry. He has lost three fumbles in that timeframe and has added several drops. Even with his Week 1 showing, Ekeler had a rushing success rate of just 42.9% entering Week 13.

There are 37 running backs in the league with 100+ carries, Ekeler's success rate ranks 31st. He is only going to fall on that list after Week 13 as he was far from successful carrying the football.

At this point in the season, the Chargers are stuck with what they have. But Chargers fans, and fantasy football players, need to accept the reality that the Austin Ekeler of old if no longer here. Sure, some of it falls on the offensive line, but Ekeler has succeeded behind bad offensive lines in the past.

Ekeler is a step slower and simply is not as consistent as he was two years ago. It has been a gradual regression for Ekeler over the last two years but 12 games into the 2023 season it is clear that his time in LA is coming to a sad end.