There were high expectations for San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews heading into the 2012 NFL season. Mathews ranked 10th in rushing yards last season and no one in the top 10 equaled his 4.9 yards per attempt.
The two areas in which Mathews needed to improve were eliminating his tendencies to fumble and getting more rushing touchdowns because he had six in 2011.
Mathews only has two fumbles this season compared to five during his rookie season in 2010 and five in 2011. Mathews missed the first two games of the regular season because he broke his clavicle against the Green Bay Packers.
Mathews is averaging a career high 16.4 rushing attempts per game, but he is also averaging a career low 3.8 yards per attempt. Mathews has one rushing touchdown this season which is unacceptable.
The most rushing yards that Mathews had in a game this season was 95 against the Cleveland Browns while he eclipsed the 100 yard mark four times last season and once as a rookie against the Denver Broncos.
San Diego’s coaching staff should think about cutting down on Mathews’ attempts because he is getting weaker as the season goes on. Mathews averaged 4.4 yards per attempt through six games, but is at 3.1 yards per attempt in the last five.
Ronnie Brown is averaging 4.7 yards per attempt, but he only gets three rushing attempts per game. Jackie Battle averages 4.1 yards per attempt on about four attempts per game.
San Diego should think about splitting attempts between Mathews and Brown or Mathews and Battle for the last three games this season.
Mathews had 222 attempts, 1,091 rushing yards and six touchdowns last season. Mathews is on pace for 229 attempts, 872 rushing yards and one touchdown this season.
I believe that Mathews can bounce back next season, but only time will tell if this happens.