Chargers Needing LaDainian Tomlinson Says a lot About Team's Lack of Faith in Ryan Mathews
If you have gotten tired of Chargers running back Ryan Mathews' being injured or ineffective, apparently you aren't the only one. Yahoo's Michael Silver reported on Sunday that San Diego reached out to LaDainian Tomlinson earlier this year in an attempt to get him to come out of retirement and carry the ball 10 or 12 times a game.
Tomlinson will be 34 years old when the season begins. He last played in 2011 with the Jets in a minor role. The unspectacular Shonn Greene played over an aging Tomlinson. In 2010 Tomlinson scored six touchdowns for New York while he rushed for 914 yards. In his last year with San Diego, 2009, Tomlinson averaged only 3.3 yards per carry though he did score 12 times. New Charger coach Mike McCoy and general Manager Tom Telesco are strongly signaling their lack of confidence in Matthews by flirting with Tomlinson, one of the greats of all time, who is way past his prime.
Mathews was selected with the number 12 pick in the 2010 draft by San Diego. In his first year out of Fresno State he split time in the Chargers backfield with Mike Tolbert. Mathews rushed for seven touchdowns and averaged 4.3 yards per carry. He totaled 678 yards over 12 games missing time with an ankle injury. His sophomore season was a productive one. Mathews gained 1,091 yards while reaching the endzone six times. He averaged a career high 4.9 yards a carry and played in a personal best 14 games. Last year was a disaster. Matthews was injured at the start of the season and never got going. He played in 12 games, managed a 3.8 yards per rush average, and scored one touchdown.
The Chargers neither signed a free agent running back of significance nor did they draft a primary ball carrier. Jackie Battle has never proven to be anything more than a second or preferably third string back. Ronnie Brown's best work was when he split carries with Cadillac Williams at Auburn. That was 2004. Brown and Ricky Williams were a decent tandem in Miami. That was three, four, and five years ago.
The NFL has turned into a passing game and Philip Rivers is capable if not spectacular. Antonio Gates continues to be a difference maker at tight end, and by drafting wideout Keenan Allen, maybe Malcom Floyd returns to his complimentary role that he thrived in when Vincent Jackson was around. However, having a running threat would be nice, and the powers that be are not showing a lot of faith in Mathews. Tomlinson is a legend, he is not the answer now.