The team’s free agent addition of Danny Woodhead had some believing that Mathews’ days as the main man in the San Diego backfield was finished. Add in the fact that a new coaching staff with Mike McCoy and front office with Tom Telesco had no ties to the ball carrier and the signs seemed to point in a different direction.
All of that speculation can be put to bed for now according to McCoy. The Chargers coach appeared on Around The League with NFL Network and said that all of the offseason changes at running back had “nothing to do” with the Mathews’ recent struggles. The team needed to build some solid depth behind the primary ball carrier, and one can only assume that is due to his shaky injury history.
McCoy’s biggest quote from the segment came when he was asked about his expectations for Mathews as he said:
“To have a great year and be the guy.”
To say that I didn’t see that coming would be an understatement. The transition to a Woodhead based offense may not be immediate, however, as the Chargers would like to see what Mathews can do in a different offense that isn’t as unbalanced as the previous play-calling under Norv Turner.
Entering the second to last year of his rookie deal, Mathews is still at a career crossroads in 2013. The back has yet to live up to his lofty draft status of 12th overall back in 2010, and the team can’t wait forever. His injury history is worrisome, and his inability to be effective between the tackles is even more concerning.
It seems strange that the Bolts would bring in an even smaller back in Woodhead (5-foot-8, 200 pounds) to simply be a complement to Mathews (6-foot, 220 pounds) who is an edge rusher in his own right. Neither guy fits the mold of a between the tackles bruiser, and McCoy’s offense seems to demand that type of back at least on a part-time basis.
Clearly Mathews has to be relieved to know that he has one last shot to prove himself in San Diego, but the pressure is definitely on in 2013. There will be no more excuses and no more pandering to his shortcomings in the backfield if he can’t get the job done. As cliché as it may be, this is inarguably a make-or-break season for Mathews in the Chargers backfield.