There have been plenty of pages turned since the San Diego Chargers dismissed former head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith in January. The team has been in a spring cleaning type of mood. Out with the old, in with the new, and that has continued with the recent release of much maligned Jared Gaither. Another offensive player with some lofty expectations to live up to in the coming season in running back Ryan Mathews, and he recently opened up about his feelings on the Bolts’ ongoing overhaul.
The former 12th overall selection in the 2010 draft joined the NFL Network to discuss the changes taking place in San Diego this offseason. When asked about his feelings on new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Mathews said: “I think it’s going to be a little bit simpler than what we had. I think we’re going to run the ball hopefully more. That’s my big thing. I want to run the ball and really prove to everybody that I can do it well. But I think he’s going to bring a different dynamic to our offense and it’s going to be fun to be a part of it.”
That certainly does seem to be the indication by the moves that the Chargers have made thus far this offseason. Adding lighter, more agile offensive linemen and allowing their more in-line blocking personnel to leave via free agency shows that they will be dedicated to the new zone-blocking scheme in 2013.
One of the other additions this offseason that peaked my curiosity regarding Mathews was the signing of running back Danny Woodhead. Competition in the backfield would suggest that the writing is on the wall for the ball carrier now entering his fourth year in the league. It didn’t seem like he took that addition in the same manner as he said: “We’ve got a tight knit group in our running back group already. I think he’s going to fit right in. I haven’t met him yet or anything, but I’ve seen some interviews and he seems like a guy that’s going to fit in real well with us. I’ve seen him play, and he plays hard and he plays big. He’s going to be a good back for us and will fit right in.”
It certainly seems Mathews is missing the boat a little bit when it comes to the Woodhead signing. My take is that the ball security issues and recurring injuries that have plagued the Bolts’ back have finally caught up with him. The previous regime would stick by him since they were the ones who chose him in the first place, but this new one won’t be nearly as tolerant. In regard to the injury bug, Mathews said: “I’ve been in the facility working going and getting rehab, just doing my best to really just get myself back to where I want to be at. I just need to stop taking so many hits. I need to quit fighting for the extra yards when I don’t need to. And I think I’ve had a little bit of bad luck too. I broke both my collarbones and that’s rare. I’ve asked everybody how often does that happen and they said never. So it’s a bit of a luck thing with me, so I just need to play my part and keep doing what I’m doing and keep working.”
Maybe what he should have said was that he needs to run smarter and bet up his blocks a little better to avoid contact. Hits are going to happen during the course of an NFL season, but not utilizing blockers effectively will only further intensify the impact of those shots.
While it was nice to see a Bolt get some media time, Mathews really didn’t say anything Earth shattering in his visit with the NFL Network. It is going to be interesting to see if his work ethic and attention to detail ramps up now that he has some serious competition for carries. This is the put up or shut up season for Mathews with his contract down to the final two seasons. If the Bolts don’t like what they see in 2013, don’t be surprised if Mathews is looking for work when 2014 rolls around.