The San Diego Chargers have a new head coach in former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, McCoy said he expects running back Ryan Mathews “To have a great year and be the guy.”
McCoy’s support of Mathews does not come as a surprise to me despite the signing of former New England Patriots RB Danny Woodhead in March. The most rushing attempts per game that Woodhead averaged in a season were 6.5 in 2010 while 13.2 were the fewest attempts per game for Mathews in a season.
Mathews was named as an alternate to the Pro Bowl in 2011 when he ranked seventh in the AFC with 78 rushing yards per game, seventh in yards per rushing attempt and eighth in rushing touchdowns.
San Diego needs Mathews to bounce back because he is their primary RB. The Chargers ranked 27th in the league with 91 rushing yards per game, 31st in yards per attempt and last with four rushing touchdowns in 2012.
Mathews was a part of these struggles because he averaged a career low 3.8 yards per rushing attempt to go along with a career low one rushing TD in 12 games.
McCoy is not alone in his vote of confidence for Mathews as new general manager Tom Telesco has also been supportive of the former 2010 first round pick.
Mathews has been injury prone at times beginning during the 2008 NCAA season when he missed five games with a knee injury. He also missed four games as a rookie in 2010 and missed four games in 2012 due to breaking his clavicle in the preseason before breaking the other one in San Diego’s 14th game.
The 2011 season proved that Mathews is capable of having success at the pro level, but 2013 will be huge for him because he has two years left on his deal and his future with the team could be determined this season.