Ryan Mathews: Why San Diego Chargers RB's Return Should Scare the Falcons

Thomas AttalCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2012

Ryan Mathews jumping into the endzone
Ryan Mathews jumping into the endzoneDonald Miralle/Getty Images

According to the Union-Tribune San Diego, Ryan Mathews will play for the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, and that should seriously scare the Atlanta Falcons.

Last season, despite playing in only 14 games, Mathews finished with a total of 1,091 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. To those impressive numbers he added 50 receptions for 455 yards. Those numbers put him at seventh in the NFL in yards from scrimmage even though he missed two games.

Mathews' statistics alone would be good enough for any coach, but he is also much more. He is incredibly strong, which allows him to both shed tacklers and provide elite blocking. Mathews has been known to absolutely destroy would-be tacklers. He also uses his great balance to remain upright when the play is seemingly done. All of that doesn't even mention his capacity to burst right through a hole.

So, if it wasn't already known, Mathews has all of the tools to scare a defense all by himself. However, on Sunday he will be even scarier as part of a unit.  

Through the first two weeks of the NFL season, the San Diego Chargers have done exactly what they have needed to.

Philip Rivers may have struggled mightily last season, but he has been superb this year. He has thrown only one interception (he had a career-high 20 last season), four touchdowns and 515 yards for an impressive 110.7 rating—all without a real running attack.

Mathews will provide two significant things to help Rivers. The first is added protection, which will help a quarterback who has been sacked five times already this season. Additionally, Mathews takes pressure off of the passing game and allows for a much more balanced attack.  

The defense has also stepped up. The unit has totaled three sacks, recovered a fumble and an interception, ranks second in the NFL in points allowed and third in yards allowed. 

Granted, these performances were against the weak Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans, but that doesn't mean they aren't significant. The Chargers have dominated teams they needed to and are gaining confidence quickly. Having an elite running back return to the field certainly won't hurt that.