Some statistics just make you shake your head. After doing some research, there is one startling number with the San Diego Chargers that just boggles the mind. A team with an illustrious running history like the Bolts figures to have consistency in the backfield, but unfortunately that has been far from the truth over the last three seasons. This number really is frightening so make sure you are sitting down. Seriously. Okay, the Chargers have gone 19 straight games without having a 100-yard rusher.
Take a deep breath. I know it hurts. Everything will be okay.
Alright, now that you’ve calmed down, that baffling statistic perfectly illustrates the reason for the team’s recent decline. It’s really quite saddening to learn that a team with so much success running the football in the decade of the 2000s with LaDainian Tomlinson and even the previous eras with Paul Lowe, Chuck Muncie, Marion Butts, and (my personal favorite) Natrone Means has fallen on such hard times.
So what’s to blame for this recent downturn? Well, the list must begin with former head coach Norv Turner and his predictable, pass-happy offense. Turner hung Philip Rivers out to dry so often by putting him in situations that are impossible to succeed in. When a team lacks a proven track record for running the ball, defenses know the pass is coming. It’s hard enough to complete throws when defenses are on their heels, but it’s nearly impossible when it’s as predictable as night and day. Fans need to look no further than this number to explain Rivers’ recent downtrend either, but that’s a separate issue for another rant.
Plenty of upheaval along the offensive line is definitely part of the cause as well. Marcus McNeill and Kris Dielman both having to retire unexpectedly from injuries totally set this team back in the trenches. That can be somewhat offset hopefully by new Head Coach Mike McCoy and his zone-blocking scheme, but the team will still need to step up its performance.
Finally, Ryan Mathews definitely deserves some fault. He has been a glorified china doll since arriving in the NFL playing in 38 of a possible 48 games with different injuries in all three of his seasons with the team. This year is make or break with him, especially considering the fact that Danny Woodhead will be waiting to take over should he struggle. The job may even be Woodhead’s coming out of camp if Mathews doesn’t show significant improvement.
While the 19 straight games without a 100-yard rusher stat is frightening, I guess you can take solace in the fact that it’s not 43 straight like the Green Bay Packers currently have going. Regaining some consistency on the ground will go a long way toward improving the functionality of the offense and consequently the wins and losses of the team. It’s time for the Chargers to put this dubious number behind them, and there’s no better place to start than week one in the coming season against the Houston Texans.