Monday, March 5, 2012

Ryan Mathews: Buy or Sell?

The jury is still out on Ryan Mathews.
For years, the Chargers were a great running team with LT carrying the rock (also having great backups helps). When the Chargers made the decision to move on from the Tomlinson era it only seemed natural that the Chargers would search for a running back to fill his shoes. Heading into the 2010 NFL Draft, many expected San Diego, who was slated to pick 28th in the draft, to find a running back early in the draft. Many fans were wondering if San Diego was going to stay put in the draft, trade up, or trade down. San Diego ended the speculation by trading up to the twelfth pick of the draft to take Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews. San Diego paid a high fee to draft Mathews, who already had a decent injury history. I, as were many Charger fans, were skeptical of the trade. This was a draft that featured Toby Gerhart and C.J. Spiller, whom many felt were the best backs in the class. Gerhart fell into the second round and Spiller ended up going to the Bills, who picked 9th. Mathews had a rough rookie season, dealing with injuries and fumbling issues. Still, Mathews turned in a decent rookie season in terms of production. Fans wanted more out of a first round pick.

Mathews came into this past season sharing carries with Mike Tolbert, although Mathews was the de facto starter. Fans expected Mathews to rise to the occasion and to produce even more. On the field, he carried the ball for 1,091 yards and caught 50 passes for 455 yards. These numbers were respecatble to say the least, earning Mathews a trip to the Pro Bowl as an alternate for Ray Rice. Still, fans are wanting more out of Mathews. I understand that desire, especially with all of the fond memories of Ladainian Tomlinson still fresh in our minds. People have to realize that LT was a special player. Finding a player of that caliber is a daunting enough task, let alone replacing him.

Would Gerhart have been a better pick?
Mathews spent several games injured his rookie year and then had no off-season the following year. For what it is worth in this pass happy league, he has produced at a good level. People need to understand that   the position of running back is in a state of flux. As a fan, I really wanted the Chargers to not trade and take Terrence Cody and Toby Gerhart with the 28th and 40th picks. Was I skeptical of the trade? Yes, without a doubt. That draft also contained Ben Tate (Texans), Johnathan Dywer (Steelers), James Starks (Packers), and D.J. Karim (Jaguars). This is not to say that any one of them may have succeeded in San Diego (although I think several of them could have) to a higher level than Mathews, just that there were other options. What really hurt the Chargers was the loss of the multiple picks they gave to the Dolphins. Those picks could have been used to develop crucial depth, something the Chargers are very thin on now at several positions.

In the end, Mathews may prove to be a good player for the Chargers. In my mind, the jury is still out. He will really need to step up this season to cement his status to the fans as a legitimate draft pick. In the end, we need to realize that he is not LT 2.0. Mathews just needs time to continue developing.

No comments:

Post a Comment