Why Ryan Mathews Should Be San Diego Chargers Featured RB

Ian PhilipAnalyst IIISeptember 19, 2011

Patriots defenders were relieved that they didn't have to chase Ryan Mathews all game. Mike Tolbert provided the much needed relief.
Patriots defenders were relieved that they didn't have to chase Ryan Mathews all game. Mike Tolbert provided the much needed relief.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Because his head coach doesn't have his head on straight, second-year running back for the Ryan Mathews isn't the featured back for the San Diego Chargers. That hasn't stopped Mathews from putting up some good numbers

I would really love to see Mike Tolbert taken out of the regular rotation in favor of Mathews going full time.

If the film doesn't lie, then it's about time to stop the Tolbert experiment and hand the reins to Mathews. Over the last three games, Mathews' lowest output from scrimmage was 118 yards against the Minnesota Vikings, but that was with only 15 touches. He gained 126 yards against the New England Patriots on just 19 touches.

Last season in the finale, he rushed 26 times for 120 yards and caught three passes for another 19 yards.

Over the last three games, Mathews has a whopping 392 yards, no turnovers and four touchdowns. Why is this guy not the full-time starter?

The most commonly heard excuse is that Mathews can't pass block, so he can't be in the game all the time.

That's extremely lame.

Mathews can pass block just fine. He did a great job against the New England Patriots. If he needs to learn, don't put him in the position to fail. I can only recall one time in preseason that he was beaten for a sack.

Tolbert is a significant all around downgrade from Mathews. Tolbert's three touchdown performance against the Minnesota Vikings made me reconsider my position for a week, but the reality of Tolbert's indecisiveness and tendency to make a mistake at a crucial time against New England slapped me in the face.

Back to life, back to reality.

Tolbert is an undrafted backup. A good one, but still a backup. Mathews, on the other hand, was drafted in the first round for a reason.

When Mathews is in the game, the defense has the task of covering the entire field no matter what personnel is on the field with him. He has the speed to get to the outside and the strength to run it inside. He also has the agility, balance, and acceleration to change direction with suddenness.

He could be the type of player that defensive coordinators dread, but that potential will not be reached while splitting time with Tolbert.

What if quarterbacks were rotated every other series? Would that make sense? No. Just like quarterbacks, running backs get into the rhythm of the game and improve as it goes along. That is, if they aren't yanked from the game every other possession.  

At this point, Mathews could easily go over 200 yards from scrimmage on a regular basis if he got all the touches.

Those type of performances keep opposing coaches up at night and forces them to change their scheme.

It would also help to simplify things for the Chargers. Less personnel means less plays. Less plays means more understanding. More understanding means less mistakes.

Less mistakes means more wins and less trips to the east coast during the playoffs.