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Mathews learned, but also taught a lesson

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Mathews learned, but also taught a lesson

    By Chris Jenkins , UNION-TRIBUNE
    Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 2:57 p.m.

    Here’s the thing about education. It can go both ways. The student becomes the teacher.
    For obvious reasons, the focus with each Chargers preseason game has been on the progress made by Ryan Mathews, the rookie who was drafted so high to restore the running game in San Diego . On perhaps the most striking of many big plays in the Chargers’ exhibition loss to the New Orleans Saints on Friday night, however, Mathews was the one dispensing the lesson.
    Strongside linebacker Scott Shanle is beginning his ninth season in the National Football League, but clearly, he was wholly unprepared for the burst that Mathews put on him on a third-and-one play that Shanle rightfully might’ve thought he’d stuff for no loss or worse.
    “The linebacker had great angle,” said Chargers head coach Norv Turner in his day-after look back at the 36-21 loss. “Ryan turned those jets on and he just blew by him.”
    Shanle, leaving Mathews too much room between him and the sideline, never touched the rookie. He did, however, have a superb view of the name on the back of Mathews’ jersey as he went on for a 16-yard gain and a first down that perpetuated a game-opening drive to touchdown. Given the fact that the score means nothing in the grand scheme of things, Mathews did himself and the Chargers a huge favor, giving everybody in the league something to re-consider.
    “That play is a great play to see, and to see his physical skills, but it’s more than that,” said Turner. “All of a sudden, now the guy coaching those outside perimeter people is saying “Hey, you’ve got to stay wide. You’ve got to make sure he doesn’t get on the edge.’ Now they’re not squeezing and some of those inside running lanes are gonna be much better.”
    Thereafter, the Saints had to buckle down tighter on Mathews, who did further help set up that first score with pickups of five and four yards inside the New Orleans 15. After compiling 32 yards on his first five carries, Mathews added only 11 yards on seven runs against the re-focused Saints defense. Even when swarmed over, though, Mathews moved piles of black-and-gold uniforms with his churning legs.
    “He’s obviously a very, very physical runner,” said Turner. “There were plays where he had to lower his shoulder to get two or three (yards) where there wasn’t much there. Those plays end up helping you when it comes down to third-down situations.”
    Anyone looking specifically for improvement didn’t necessarily find it in the yardage totals. To the contrary, Mathews made up for his most glaring rookie mistake from the week before, a blitz on which Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer essentially did to Mathews what Mathews did to Shanle, shooting past him for a sack of quarterback Philip Rivers.
    “We threw a little pass (at New Orleans) and Ryan has to block the outside linebacker,” said Turner. “Last week he had that linebacker and didn’t do a very good job and the guy hit the quarterback. This time he hit the guy in the knee, cut him, and put him on the ground. Little things like that you see show up.
    “He’s sharp. He doesn’t get rattled. He doesn’t get too excited. He has a very good game-day demeanor. He expects to gain yards. He’s not afraid to mix it up. As you’ve seen hill run over you and he’ll run around you.”
    There was no getting around the fact that, while the Chargers’ first units generally played the best preseason game over the first half and then some against the defending NFL champions, they could use some polish between now and the regular-season opener at Kansas City on Sept. 13.
    With the kind of crowd noise that can drown out visitors at Arrowhead Stadium, Turner said he liked the way Mathews and the entire team went into the Superdome and dealt with not only an ultra-aggressive opponent, but the raucous environment. Most likely, the starters will have their playing time dialed back for the preseason finale at San Francisco on Thursday.
    “We’re not ready to go,” said Turner. “We’re fortunate to have a couple weeks before we play. That (New Orleans) was a good example of what we can be. That was as close to a regular-season game as you can get through the first two and a half quarters. I thought we were sharp, but I think there’s some things we can clean up.”
  2. szarmes

    szarmes I am the Walrus

    Jan 11, 2010
    We hung with the champs for the first half.. Just a few kinks need to be worked out and we're all set for a great season
  3. LinksterAC

    LinksterAC BoltTalker

    Oct 18, 2006
    Overall I'm pretty happy with the teams' performance. We asserted ourselves on offense, and kept the high octane Saints' O in check. Despite the fact that it went for a New Orleans TD, Cason's positioning was excellent on that play and indicates strong play out of a position many of us were worried about.
  4. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2006
    A couple of observations on Ryan.

    He runs tall and then gets small. His upright running style for the most part looks awkward. Eric Dickerson ran upright and it worked well for him. I'd say he needs to show more patience setting up his blockers but that will come with time. Once the game starts to slow for him, it will be second nature. So far I am impressed with the way he handles himself on the field and in interviews. He seems grounded.
  5. PhilipRivers#1

    PhilipRivers#1 BoltTalker

    Mar 14, 2006
    Matthews looks to be a huge upgrade from LT.

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