Chargers Need More Mathews
By Andrew Burer
It’s something San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy preached all summer.
The trio of Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, and Ronnie Brown each offer a particular set of skills that complement one another.
Mathews is in there for ground-and-pound, Woodhead for third-down and passing situations, and Brown for pass blocking and a change of pace.
“It depends on the game situation,” McCoy said. “I’ve said since day one that we are going to play multiple guys in the backfield. I think it has been pretty mixed in the first three games.”
Through three games, Woodhead has played 79 offensive snaps while Mathews and Brown have played 66 and 53.
The problem for the Chargers, however, is that the balance needs to shift. Woodhead should not be leading the backfield in reps. And that’s not a slight on the former Patriot, but a reflection of the Chargers playing three close games and the confidence they have in Mathews.
This is a make-or-break year for the former first-round pick. He’s in the final year of his rookie contract, and the results have been nowhere near the expectations for Mathews. However, the talent is there, and so far, Mathews has looked sharp and aggressive. Holding onto the ball is still an issue (Mathews fumbled in Week 2 against the Eagles), but the Chargers must find a way to involve him more.
And in order to do so, the defense has to play better. All three of the Chargers’ games this season have come down to the final possession, consequently forcing the offense to go no-huddle and pass-heavy late in the game. There’s no question Woodhead is a talented receiver out of the backfield, but he’s not going to keep opposing offenses off the field. And neither is Brown, whose presence on the field is practically a dead giveaway to a pass play.
The Chargers need to control the clock on offense and limit their shortcomings on defense by keeping the ‘O’ on the field. If Jack Locker can play like a Pro Bowler against the Chargers, imagine what Peyton Manning will do.
That said, the Chargers must implement more of a ground-and-pound attack with Mathews earlier the game if they are going to be successful this season.