Ryan Mathews: I’ve been just an average back


There’s little argument to be made against the assertion that Chargers running back Ryan Mathews has been a disappointment in the three years since he was selected with the 12th overall pick.

Mathews has battled a variety of injuries in his first three seasons and showed an alarming inability to hold onto the ball while healthy, leading the team to give him a seat on the bench in favor of Jackie Battle last season and raising all sorts of questions about his long-term outlook in San Diego. Mathews knows that he has failed to live up to expectations and doesn’t do much to sugarcoat the shortcomings.

“So far, what I’ve done right now. I’ve been just an average back,” Mathews said, via Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego. “I got a lot of people just frustrated with my performance in the last few years. They expected me to come in and do big things. And I expect myself to.”

Mathews also admitted that he’s struggled with being the successor to LaDainian Tomlinson in the Chargers backfield. Tomlinson set a very high standard during his years in San Diego, one that has weighed on Mathews during his first three years with the team.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself to fill LT’s shoes,” Mathews said. “I was trying to live up to those expectations — what he was doing in his prime, all the yards he’s getting, all the touchdowns he’s getting, just trying to live up to that. I knew I was the first-round pick, [the Chargers] moved up [16] spots and all that, and I was just trying to do more than what I should have been doing. I think I took all the fun out of it and stressed myself out over it.”

If that’s the case, Mathews must have been happy to hear that Tomlinson rebuffed a casual approach from the Chargers about returning for the 2013 season. It’s a reminder that as much as the new regime has expressed confidence in Mathews, they aren’t closed to exploring other avenues to find the kind of production in the running game that Mathews has failed to provide thus far.

That makes 2013 a big year for the former first-rounder and no explanations of ghosts over the shoulder or bad injury luck will carry much weight in the event Mathews remains just an average back.

27 responses to “Ryan Mathews: I’ve been just an average back

  1. “So far, what I’ve done right now. I’ve been just an average back,” Mathews said, via Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego.

    I think he is giving himself too much credit

  2. I’m rooting for this guy. At least he isn’t outrunning police, beating up his wife, fighting in clubs, and driving while intoxicated. Good character kid who just needs a FULLBACK. LT did all that with Lorenzo Neal. Post Neal he didn’t do diddly. Get the man a FULLBACK.

  3. His performance so far has been very frustrating for Chargers fans. He occasionally shows a flash of brilliance but then either ends up fumbling or gets injured and taken out of the game.

    After three years, I honestly don’t know anymore if he will ever overcome these issues.

  4. With as many turnovers as he’s produced, he would’ve been cut from most teams, but not a team with a GM who moved way up to draft a first round bust.

    Had AJ Smith not pinned his hopes on trying to show LT that we could replace him, this guy would probably already be working at a grocery store.

    Now that AJ is gone, this guy has one year at best to not be a fumble machine

  5. Example A that you should only take a RB with a high 1st pick if he’s a once-in-a-generation type guy.

  6. I remember back during his draft the Texans were really wanting him but San Diego jumped in front of us to grab him and afterwards Mathews said he was glad Houston didn’t draft him. I guess that worked out for both parties then Haha. Mathews is a fragile, fumble machine.

  7. I don’t understand how a FB would help his issues either, but this kid looks scary the moment he gets the ball.

    He just never seems to finish the play.

  8. Huh?

    What are you people going on about? Two years ago he averaged almost 5 yards a carry and went to the pro bowl. LT’s decline had partly to do with him losing a step but more to do with the fact A) Norv Turner is not committed to the run, he uses it to set up his passing offense and B) the Oline was awful in run blocking.

    So how are we expecting Mathews to put up fantastic numbers with an even worse Oline and a coach that treats you like the red headed step child the minute you mess up? Don’t start on the injuries, anyone who has played football or is familiar with injuries knows that most of the time its just a freak accident and not the player’s fault.

  9. Average is an understatement. The dude tanked my whole fantasy team his rookie year and they wouldn’t let me drop him. The chargers would have been far better off keeping the big fullback who was actually really good that they let get away to the Panthers.

  10. To be honest, I am average at my job, and for this guy to call himself average is very insulting to me and average guys everywhere.

  11. Why are so many people hating on the kid? He has had some injuries but The Chargers have also had one of the worst offensive line’s in the NFL. Ask Phillip Rivers. I have watched a few games and he runs hard and is explosive with the ball in his hands. I know he had legit fumble problems but many solid backs have had that same problem when they were young most recent I can think of is AD.

  12. people hate on him because he’s made of glass and has not delivered on his top 10 selection in the draft, which has nothing to do with the quality of his offensive line. the tackle that broke his collarbone last season was a normal tackle that most NFL backs would have popped right up from.

  13. Sometimes the comments here frustrate me…
    it’s as if few posters use any perspective re. reasonable expectations. All RBs get banged-up…
    Mathews has had his injuries, but other top AFC West RBs (Charles, McFadden, etc.) have been much worse. Take the top 5 RBs drafted in 2010.
    Mathews has 2,476 rushing yards.
    Spiller (drafted earlier) has 388 less.
    Jahvid Best has 1,531 less.
    Dexter McCluster has 1,819 less.
    Toby Gerhart has 1,454.

    Nobody’s saying it’s been an HOF career so far,
    but if producing better than your peers doesn’t
    let you at least call yourself “average” then I just
    don’t know what magic yardstick some are using to bash this guy.

  14. Haters gonna hate. This kid has all the talent in the world and carried a huge workload in college. He has had a few unfortunate injuries but what running back hasnt? darren mcfadden? Jamal charles? Mcgahee? Come on man.

  15. I’m a Chargers fan and he’s horrible. The guy shows up for 3gms a year with fantasy numbers and the rest of the time he’s mediocre at best or injured. Chargers need to draft another OL in 1st RD next year and take a RB after that.

  16. Mathews struggles directly correspond to the poop hole of a O Line that the Bolts have been dealt by the last regime. Fix O Line get him a FB and Ryan will have a big year.

  17. In 2011 he was 7th in the league in yards from scrimmage.
    That was in 14 games. Obviously he has been injured and the O-line has gone through major transition – which has negatively impacted Rivers and the O in general. As usual there is way too much negativity out there. If the line stays healthy and there is continuity there, Mathews could have a great season. He must stay healthy and we will see what he can do.

  18. We all can see he has the talent to be great, but it never materialized.

    On a talent scale > average
    On a production scale = average
    On a reliability scale < average
    On a Top 12 pick scale < average

    CJ Spiller has been much more productive and reliable considering he's never had the starting rb job full time. We cannot blame the O-line or Norv for the half -dozen times Matthews has fumbled while in the Redzone.

  19. I heard his fumbles in his first 20 games in the NFL were comparable to stiffs like LT and Adrian Peterson. Yes, he has to turn it around this year. More than eliminating fumbles, that includes listening to coaches and practicing what they tell him about following the play. Can we give him 8 games to hang himself — or redeem himself?

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