The San Diego Chargers have to improve their rushing attack because they ranked 31st in yards per attempt and were tied with the Oakland Raiders for last in the NFL with four rushing touchdowns in 2012.
A major problem for San Diego in 2012 was the decline of Ryan Mathews, who had about 60 percent of the team’s rushing attempts per game. Mathews averaged career lows with 3.8 yards per attempt and one touchdown, which came in a loss to the New Orleans Saints. He had at least 100 rushing yards in four games during the 2011 season while his season high in 2012 was 95 yards in a loss against the Cleveland Browns.
According to CBS Sports’ Will Brinson, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said “I think Mathews can be a bell cow back.” This is high praise for a guy who missed five games as a sophomore in college with a knee injury, missed four games as a rookie and missed four games in 2012 after breaking his clavicles.
Telesco gave a vote of confidence to Mathews that he did not get during the 2012 season from former GM A.J. Smith, who said that Mathews would be traded or released if he kept fumbling.
Mathews has a history of injury problems, but Telesco may be supportive of him due to his ranking 10th in the NFL with 1,091 rushing yards in 2011 and no one in the top 10 equaled his 4.9 yards per attempt.
Although Telesco did not select Mathews in the 2010 NFL Draft, the organization moved up 16 spots with a trade in round one to choose him, so Telesco could be speaking on behalf of the Spanos family.
A healthy Mathews would go a long way in San Diego’s offense improving because they ranked 30th in yards per play last season. Mathews has the potential to be an elite running back, but only time will tell if he is able to stay healthy enough to live up to expectations.