Ryan Mathews Could Be the Missing Link for San Diego Chargers

Ian PhilipAnalyst IIIAugust 20, 2010

SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 14:   Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers carries for a first down on fourth and one against the Chicago Bears on August 14, 2010 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

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If there is one thing that made San Diego Chargers fans cringe, it’s the one-yard-and-a-cloud-of-dust running game that plagued the Chargers’ high powered offense with 2nd and 9 far too often in 2009.

The addition of Ryan Mathews may change all that if he can stay healthy. In last Saturday’s game against the Chicago Bears, Mathews continuously gained yardage against a vanilla Bears defense.

Norv Turner is known as a quarterback guru, but his offense starts with the running back. With a new high-powered engine driving his attack, quarterback Philip Rivers should have an easier time dissecting defenses. Even scarier for defenses is the notion that they may have to play eight-man fronts even more often, which will leave defensive backs one-on-one with Chargers receivers.

That’s not good for opposing defensive coordinators.

As Steve Mariucci would say, the Chargers may hang a couple of “50-burgers” on opponents in 2010.

On display in the game were Mathews speed, power, and balance.

He repeatedly blew by surprised defenders who were seemingly in position, but found themselves standing still as Mathews went by. Mathews leveled a couple of guys (on the same play) with effortless stiff arms. On one play he was nearly leveled by Charger guard Kris Dielman only to be hit by Bears linebacker Lance Briggs. He bounced off of both guys and exploded for a gain of 18 yards.

Love LaDainian Tomlinson or hate him, he and fullback Lorenzo Neal (along with fullback Andrew Pinnock) led a Chargers rushing attack that struck fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators. Without a powerful fullback, the Chargers running game was lost. With LT losing a step, it completely fell off the map.

The Chargers scored nearly 500 points in 2006 with a powerful rushing attack to compliment a solid passing attack. If the Chargers can regain their powerful rushing attack to complement a now spectacular passing attack, the Chargers could surpass 500 points in 2010.