When the San Diego Chargers acquired Donald Brown, it was to replace the aging Ronnie Brown in the backfield. After giving it more thought, Brown would shine regardless of when — not if — Ryan Mathews finds himself injured in 2014.
No one can take away Mathews’ 2013 with 285 carries for 1,255 yards and six touchdowns. That push in the latter part of the season and controlling the clock was the key to victories and put them in position to win games. Mike McCoy’s success was tied to veterans Mathews and Philip Rivers.
Mathews is entering his fifth year in the NFL, signaling the prime of his career, but his injury history is overshadowing this fact. Brown is only a few months older than Mathews and still has upside to his running game. Despite Brown only rushing for about a third of Mathews’ carries, he earned a rushing average of 5.3 versus Mathews’ 4.4. Brown also equaled Mathews’ six rushing touchdowns and edged Mathews’ receiving touchdowns by one.
Brown can still run and has some good years left, especially since he has ran the ball roughly 300 times less than Mathews. The long-term investment will reward the front office because Brown was a Tom Telesco guy in Indianapolis, already accustomed to the similar system implemented in San Diego. It shouldn’t surprise anyone at the end of the 2014 season when Brown is in a Charger uniform while Mathews hits the market.
Now thinking strictly about 2014, Danny Woodhead, Mathews and Brown must have a stellar year together to give the Chargers a repeat shot at the playoffs. The three-headed backfield gives the Chargers a fighting shot in the AFC West.