One thing that will make an offensive line and a quarterback look far worse than they actually are is the lack of a running game. The San Diego Chargers have suffered from that affliction for the past few seasons with lead back Ryan Mathews in and out of the lineup with injuries. New General Manager Tom Telesco (TT) took a significant step in alleviating those issues this offseason with the acquisition of former New England Patriots’ running back Danny Woodhead. Now the only question is just how will the Bolts utilize the multipurpose back?
According to Pro Football Talk, Telesco held a conference call with season ticket holders and had some high praise for his backfield acquisition. TT said: “We were looking to add playmakers on offense, and he’s one of those guys that when the ball gets in his hands, he’s got some magic to him. So he’s going to be a fun player to watch during the season.” He also went on to say that Woodhead is a “dynamic runner in space” and that he is “underrated” as a pass blocker.
If you are salivating at the potential already, I don’t blame you. Woodhead seems to fix much of what has ailed the San Diego offense for the past few seasons. Still at the top of the depth chart, Mathews has been unable to stay healthy during his career with the Chargers playing in just 38 of a possible 48 games over the past three years. Regarding him, TT said: “He’s healthy right now, and we’re expecting big things from him this year.”
Of course he has to say that currently, but it seems more and more likely that Mathews could see a reduced role if his struggles perpetuate into the opening weeks of 2013. His 3.8 yards per carry average in 2012 won’t cut it in the upcoming season if he wants to hang on to the lead role. This will be a huge year to determining just what the future holds for the former number 12 overall pick.
Many of the struggles the Chargers had over the past few years were attributed to former head coach Norv Turner and his predictable play-calling, but that only contributed to the ineptitude that Mathews displayed. He must show more decisive cuts and the ability to hit the hole with authority when it opens up in the coming season. TT has added several pieces along the offensive line that should help the running game as well with signing King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart in free agency along with the selection of D.J. Fluker in the 2013 NFL Draft.
New Head Coach Mike McCoy will have the personnel at his disposal to improve this San Diego offense, and he has a proven track record of doing just that. Look for a revamped rushing attack to lead that Bolts on offense with Woodhead and Mathews working as a two-headed monster that gains yards in chunks. Their combined presence will only accelerate the bounce-back process for quarterback Philip Rivers in the year ahead.