The San Diego Chargers finished the 2012 NFL season with four rushing touchdowns, which were tied for last with the Oakland Raiders. There were 29 players that had more rushing touchdowns than San Diego in 2012.
San Diego’s rushing attack as a whole was poor, but Danny Woodhead should help the team improve from averaging 3.6 yards per attempt in 2012.
Ryan Mathews struggled to protect the football in his first two seasons, because he combined for 10 fumbles. Former Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said that Mathews could be traded or released after a goal line fumble against the Atlanta Falcons last year. Mathews only had two fumbles in 2012, but he has 14 rushing touchdowns and 12 fumbles in his three seasons.
First year head coach Mike McCoy and first year general manager Tom Telesco have expressed confidence in Mathews.
The fourth-year RB showed flashes of potential greatness in 2011, when he ranked 12th in rushing yards per game and yards per rushing attempt. Mathews had his worst season in 2012, when he set career lows in yards per rushing attempt, with 3.8 and rushing touchdowns with one.
If Mathews struggles with protecting the ball, San Diego’s coaching staff should consider using Ronnie Brown in goal line situations. Brown had 36 rushing touchdowns and 13 fumbles as a starter with the Miami Dolphins from 2005-2010. Brown could be used to fight for the tough yards if Mathews struggles.
Brown averaged 4.8 yards per rushing attempts on limited carries last year, but his days as being the primary RB appear to be behind him. However, San Diego does not need him to carry the ball 200+ times, like he did in four out of six seasons with Miami.
The most rushing touchdowns that Mathews had in a season was seven, as a rookie in 2010. Brown could be used in goal line situations to take some pressure away from Mathews, or he could be used as the primary goal line RB.