San Diego’s front office decided that Ryan Mathews will still be the primary running back, but he has to play better in 2013 after posting career lows in yards per attempt and rushing touchdowns in 2012.
Mathews had two below average seasons in 2010 and 2012, but he showed that he can be an explosive RB in 2011 when he was named as an alternate to the Pro Bowl.
Former New England Patriots RB Danny Woodhead was brought in to be Mathews’ primary backup, but the most rushing attempts per game that Woodhead had in a season was 6.5 in 2010. The signing of Woodhead could mean fewer opportunities for Mathews in passing situations because Woodhead is a better receiving RB, but the signing should not take away very many rushing attempts from Mathews.
San Diego’s front office brought back former Miami Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown who averaged 4.8 yards per attempt last year, but the last time Brown averaged at least five attempts per game was in 2010. Brown had one of his worst seasons that year and is 31 years-old so he shouldn’t take very many attempts from Mathews either.
The silver lining in an otherwise disappointing 2012 season for Mathews was his ability to cut down on fumbles. Mathews combined for 10 fumbles in his first two seasons but had two last year.
Mathews should not feel threatened about losing his starting job unless he is horrible because he has the support of new general manager Tom Telesco and new head coach Mike McCoy. Also, as mentioned earlier, Woodhead has never been a workhorse type RB and Brown’s days in that role are more than likely behind him.
The 2013 season is still crucial for Mathews, though, because he will have one year left on his contract after this year. Woodhead or Brown will not be the answer at RB if Mathews struggles again this year or goes down with another injury, but there could be a change at starting RB in 2014.