Certain acts on a football field will warrant a trip to the proverbial doghouse. Turning the ball over is certainly at or near the top of that hierarchy, and the San Diego Chargers have experienced those woes for the past four seasons with running back Ryan Mathews in town. His fumblitis has been outright depressing for fans during his career, but will the approach of the new coaching staff help cure this disease or merely harbor the problem for the Bolts on offense?
It was a familiar sight under the previous regime with Mathews coughing up the ball at a critical time and finding a comfy spot on the bench. Norv Turner pulled the running back routinely after any costly turnover, but Mike McCoy took a different approach on Sunday following Mathews’ fumble inside the Philadelphia Eagles 10-yard line. He recalled his words to the running back for U-T San Diego saying:
“You’re going to play, you’re going to make a mistake. You just keep going, don’t worry about the last play. Philip (Rivers) has made a mistake, there’s going to be a bad call, I’ll make a poor decision somewhere. You do something, keep going. The future is now, just keep playing.”
McCoy would then stick Mathews right back out on the field to begin the next series, and his belief seemed to permeate the ball carrier. Of his thoughts after returning to the backfield, Mathews said:
“Get that first down. (Mike McCoy) believes in me. The team believes in me. Get that first down.”
It’s that positive approach that seemed to spark something inside of Mathews. Whereas in the past he would be left on the bench to sulk and become even more prone to make a mistake in an effort to make up for the last one, Mathews seemed to put this snafu behind him and move on. That is what this new era of Chargers football is about, and McCoy has been beating that into his players’ heads.
The coach said:
“That’s why we won the game. We didn’t say ‘Oh, here we go.’ We just said, ‘We’re going to find a way to win the game, and that’s what we did.’ ”
In the past it seemed like that ‘woe is me’ mantra followed the Chargers and they found ways to lose games rather than seeking out ways to win them. Despite their collapse in Week 1, McCoy’s team showed some serious resolve to come back the following week on a cross-country trip with an early start time for a west coast club and get a victory. The circumstances won’t always be in their favor, but these Chargers seem determined to make the most of their opportunities and learn from their mistakes.
What it all boils down to is fans shouldn’t be alarmed by McCoy’s trust in Mathews. This method can’t be any worse than the approach Turner took to dealing with his fumbling issues, and maybe it will even produce a more favorable result for the Chargers this season. Any change is a necessary one when it comes to turning around this three-year stretch without a postseason berth for the Bolts.