It's PRIME TIME For Ryan Mathews and The San Diego Chargers

Manny CasillasContributor IApril 25, 2010

This past weekend was quite an eventful weekend.  The NBA Playoffs and Baseball are both heating up, and of course the NFL unveiled its new, and may I add, absolutely thrilling format for their draft.  It easily made this weekend an even better annual event to look forward to.

PRIME TIME Football!

That’s what the NFL is about, and of course, it received the numbers to prove that when it comes to national events, it’s “ALL EYES ON ME.”

Ratings jumped by over 20% from last year.

The draft is a highly anticipated annual event, and all the speculation about who will go where or who will go first, how high will they go or how low will they drop?  And of course the trades.

Trades make the draft 100% more exciting than it already is.

Especially when your team jumps up 16 spots in the first round, on PRIME TIME television it makes it seven million times more exciting.  (That’s the number of viewers the first round had Thursday night)

The Chargers were very aggressive in this year’s draft, making trades in each day of the three day event.  AJ Smith went after the players he wanted, instead of letting players fall to him or reaching for talent or depth.  He knew who he wanted for this roster.  And with a plan in place, Charger brass set the pieces in motion early to begin to fill out this year’s roster.

There were two glaring holes this offseason, and as such, those two positions brought on heavy debate as to who the Chargers should select first.  It was obvious that the Chargers wanted to address both of these needs, but to my surprise, they valued the running back much higher than the need to replace Jamal Williams.

When the Chargers made that trade in the first round, I thought the pick was absolutely going to be Dan Williams, 100%.  The best projected nose tackle in this draft.

When the pick was announced, I was actually relieved.  Ryan Mathews is absolutely what this teams needs.

About 20% of those viewers agreed with it.

I immediately asked what was given up in order to move up and secure this great talent.  (A second round pick and a great complimentary linebacker…. Who is a fan favorite too?)

Helping stop the run was addressed, but by no means should it have been addressed this early in the draft. 

I like what AJ Smith did the rest of the draft to help the defense.  A big man in the middle was needed, but anyone that they drafted would be learning the technique of the position, not having an immediate impact the way Ryan Mathews would.

What everyone forgets, or maybe is not aware of, is that the Chargers have one of the deepest rotations at that position, and even though it wasn’t the best, it did a great job of shutting teams out of the end zone.   Isn’t that more important than allowing them to get yards.  (Remember the goal line stand against Marion the Barbarian)

The Chargers did not lose to the Jets because they couldn’t stop the run, it was because the offense was very one dimensional.  When you can zone in on what you’re opponent wants to do against you, you play to your strengths in regards to their weaknesses.

Darrelle Revis was not covering the number one receiver the entire game, he was all over the field, switching off of all of them.  All the while Rex Ryan dialed up every type of blitz imaginable to throw Philip off.

With no back capable of handling the ball out of the backfield against a strong defensive front, the Chargers could not push for the extra yardage they needed.  Yes Kaeding did miss those chip shots but this offense cannot rely on him to score the points.  That is not the way this team is built.

The offense is high powered no doubt but with the addition of Ryan Mathews, he can be the type of jolt the Chargers have been looking for.  Norv Turner likes to run the ball, even though it seems the Chargers are a passing team.  Last year, LT did have over 220 carries, that’s over thirteen carries per game.

After the release of LT, the Chargers’ number one priority should definitely be finding a replacement.  They managed well without LT having to rush over a 1,000 yards but it’s not like the Chargers did not give him an opportunity to do so.  If he would have averaged 4.3 Y/A instead of 3.3 I bet the farm he would have received at least 30 more carries this season. 

That would have made him a 1,000 yard rusher.

But that is now in the past and he is now a JET.

And the Chargers have a new running back.  One that wants to work hard to help his team win, whether it means blocking, catching, running outside or in between the tackles and fight for the extra yards.

Not to say that LT laid down at the end of his runs near the end of his career in San Diego.  He was trying to preserve himself for the playoffs.  He just didn’t bring it then either.

San Diego needs someone who is hungry and does not dwindle in big games.  They need someone who shines when everyone least expects it.

At Fresno State, in the biggest game of the year for this team and against the best team they would face all year long, Ryan Mathews came ready to play.  He ended up running for 234 yards and three touchdowns.  Against the Wisconsin Badgers, he ran for 107 yards off of 19 carries.  The Badgers ended the season with the fifth best run defense in the nation, who only allowed 88 rushing yards on average per game.

Even though Mathews played in the WAC, he proved that he was a player.  And that is exactly what the Chargers need, an all-around back that will fit into Norv’s offense nicely.  He likes running it right up the middle out of the power formation, and Mathews can excel in this system with his running style.

He doesn’t need a fullback to run in front of him because as soon as he gets the ball he goes.  He doesn’t spend time dancing in the back field waiting for the hole to develop.  Mathews studies the playbook and knows where he needs to go to make that play work.

Of course the offensive line will need to get tougher and develop a better push but let’s not forget that last year Nick Hardwick missed most of the season, and he’s a Pro Bowler.

With Hardwick back and healthy, the only real hole on the offensive line is depth and competition at the right tackle spot.  Vazquez will have a year of experience at the RG and will have better rhythm with Dielman, Hardwick, and McNeill.  Bringing back Jerome Clary will also make this line better.

The Chargers already know that they can win thirteen games without a great running game, but they also know they need a running game in the playoffs when they are playing the best of the best.

And by then, Mathews will have already had plenty of reps after playing sixteen games.  And he will be ready to prove himself on the big stage once again when everyone least expects it and help the Chargers finally reach the promise land.

A 20% jump from last year.

100% satisfaction...

Worth every penny.

And in the NFL that's what you call PRIME TIME.


    Long Donated His Entire 2017 Season Salary to Charity

    NFL logo

    Long Donated His Entire 2017 Season Salary to Charity

    FOX Sports
    via FOX Sports

    Josh Allen Wants to Turn Around the Browns

    NFL logo

    Josh Allen Wants to Turn Around the Browns

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Giants Still Need an Overhaul on Offense

    NFL logo

    Giants Still Need an Overhaul on Offense

    Brad Gagnon
    via Bleacher Report

    Stephen Jones: Dez's Behavior Can Be a 'Distraction'

    NFL logo

    Stephen Jones: Dez's Behavior Can Be a 'Distraction'

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report