San Diego Chargers: Is Ryan Mathews Capable of Being a Top-Five RB?

By Kenny Gardner
Ryan Mathews San Diego Chargers
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

According to Brian Murphy of, San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews said, “I think I can be a top-five RB and be up with the best of them.”

This is a bold statement by Mathews and it is surprising considering that he is coming off a season where he ranked 23rd in rushing yards per game, 32nd in yards per attempt and 74th in rushing touchdowns.

Mathews’ best NFL season was in 2011 when he ranked 12th in yards per rushing attempt and rushing yards per game while he ranked 18th in rushing TDs and was named as an alternate to the Pro Bowl.

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose drew some criticism this week because he said that he is the best player in the NBA. In four seasons, Rose won Rookie of the Year, is a three-time All-Star and won the NBA’s regular season MVP award in his last full season.

Mathews’ statement is bolder than Rose’s because Rose is considered by most to be a top 5-10 player in the NBA. Every person who is a top 5-10 player in the league can more realistically claim, “I am the best player”.

If Mathews played like a top-15 RB last year, saying that he can be a top-five RB would not be as far-fetched, but it is difficult to even make the case that Mathews played like a top-25 RB in 2012.

The two statements are different, but Mathews is coming off a horrific season and his best finish was 12th, 12th and 18th in yards per game, yards per attempt and rushing touchdowns. If Mathews said he could be a top-five RB right after the 2011 season, it would be more realistic than it is now.

San Diego completed a trade with the Miami Dolphins to move up 16 spots in the 2010 NFL Draft and selected Mathews. Mathews has not lived up to expectations so far, but he has the support of general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy.

It is never a bad thing for an athlete to have high expectations for her or himself even if the expectations do not appear to be realistic for the player.

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