By Danny Cox
Name: Ryan Mathews – RB – #24
Weight: 220 lbs.
Hometown: Riverside, CA
Experience: 3 years
Being a running back for the San Diego Chargers is a difficult task this year as the team is faltering in every single aspect of the game. Currently, the Chargers are in the middle of a four game losing streak and have a horrible record of 4-8, which assures them yet another non-winning season.
With so many losses, the Chargers are obviously playing from behind quite often and therefore abandoning the running game so that they can catch up. Here is where the problem lies for a veritable superstar such as the young Ryan Mathews.
Mathews is being totally underutilized this season for the Chargers, and his stats prove that very point.
Through 12 games, Mathews has a mere 678 yards rushing, and is coming off of one of his worst outings as a professional. In Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Mathews got only nine carries totaling 26 yards. That just adds right up to how unproductive he has been this season running the ball.
Not to mention the fact that he isn’t even being targeted in the Chargers passing game either. Last season, Mathews caught 50 balls for 455 yards. So far in 2012, he’s only caught 22 passes for 145 yards.
One has to wonder if some members of the Chargers organization have already lost faith in him. Head coach Norv Turner even recently said that he does not believe Mathews has the vision to be an elite running back in the NFL.
That right there is enough to discourage anyone.
In college at Fresno State, Mathews proved early on that he was going to be an NFL running back one day. He led all NCAA freshman in 2007 in rushing yard average and touchdowns. After one year in college, Mathews has 866 yards on 145 carries and 14 touchdowns.
His sophomore season saw much lower numbers due to missing almost half the season with a knee injury, but still had 606 yards and eight touchdowns.
As a junior though, Mathews exploded and led all of the NCAA in rushing with an average of 150.67 yards per game. He even missed one game due to a concussion, yet finished the season with 1,808 yards on 276 carries and 19 touchdowns.
Obviously, those numbers were enough to make him want to forego his senior season in college and enter the NFL draft. Then, with the 12th pick overall in the 2012 NFL draft, the San Diego Chargers selected Ryan Mathews to come in and be their featured back.
Things seemed great for a while has he learned the NFL game and had a decent rookie season with 620 yards on 155 carries and one touchdown. It was his second season that proved his worth though.
In 14 games, Mathews had 222 rushing attempts that totaled 1,091 yards and six touchdowns. Add onto that the 455 receiving yards, and the Chargers had themselves an all-around back that was a dangerous weapon for Philip Rivers to have at his disposal.
Now, a broken collarbone during the 2012 preseason set him back a bit, and caused him to miss the first couple games of the regular season. Coming back full time in week three, Mathews set out to prove he can get right back to where he was in 2011.
One would think that the team would utilize him as a major weapon and get him as involved in the offense as possible after seeing what he could do during his second NFL season. Something doesn’t smell right though, and big changes could be coming in the Chargers’ organization soon.
There is one thing that is almost certain though–one of those changes won’t be getting rid of Ryan Mathews.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Chargers news, see CBS Sports Los Angeles.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.