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The San Diego switch: Mathews must only eclipse faded L.T.

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, May 18, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    [​IMG]

    May 18, 2010
    By Clark Judge
    CBSSports.com Senior Writer


    People keep telling me the heat is on San Diego running back Ryan Mathews to make good as a rookie and prove the Chargers right for trading up to make him their first-round draft pick, but, sorry, I don't buy it.

    In fact, the way I see it, there's more pressure on Mathews' predecessor to make an impression than there is on Matthews, and, yes, I'm talking about LaDainian Tomlinson.

    He's the guy who wasn't happy when the Chargers released him, and no surprise there. I wouldn't be happy, either, after what he did for San Diego. But it's one thing to be unhappy. It's another to be bitter. And L.T. was so hot and bothered that he torched the entire San Diego Chargers organization on his way out, criticizing the head coach, the GM and his own offensive line.

    Then he signed on with the New York Jets and promised to be the back he was not a year ago -- and that, folks, is where the pressure begins.

    Here's why: The Jets last season had Thomas Jones and the NFL's No. 1-ranked rushing offense, while the Chargers had L.T. and the league's 31st-ranked rushing attack. Jones was the AFC's second-leading rusher with 1,402 yards; Tomlinson produced career lows with 730 yards and a per-carry average of 3.3 yards. The Jets reached the conference championship game. The Chargers did not. In fact, they couldn't win one playoff game, bowing to the Jets.

    Anyway, once the season was over the Jets let Jones walk and signed L.T., while the Chargers let L.T. walk and drafted Ryan Mathews. That's when Tomlinson piped up, blaming his poor performance on not getting enough touches, an inadequate offensive line and a head coach more interested in passing the ball than he was in running it.

    Maybe he's right. But when the curtain finally dropped, the Chargers didn't change their offensive line or their offensive coordinator. They changed their running back.

    Now tell me who should be feeling the heat.

    Look, I understand that Ryan Mathews replaces a future Hall of Famer, and that's never easy. But Aaron Rodgers did it in Green Bay, and Jim Caldwell did it in Indianapolis. Rodgers had to step in for the enormously popular Brett Favre in Green Bay after Favre had one of his best seasons and led the Packers to the conference championship game. Caldwell succeeded the enormously popular Tony Dungy after he led the Colts to their seventh straight playoff appearance and had taken Indianapolis to its first Super Bowl.

    Tomlinson was enormously popular in San Diego, too, but not because of what happened last season. In fact, not a whole lot of anything happened last season, which is why the Bolts made the change. Granted, Tomlinson is one of the best players in club history and a dead-bolt cinch for Canton, but he was nothing more than dead-flat ordinary last season -- and that is generous. He ranked 29th in rushing, while his average of 3.3 yards per carry tied for last among the NFL's top 50 rushers.

    Now he goes to the league's top-ranked rushing offense to replace the AFC's second-leading rusher, and you want to tell me there's more pressure on Ryan Mathews to improve on L.T.'s numbers with the league's 31st-ranked rushing attack? Sorry, not interested.

    Mathews doesn't have to be a future Hall of Fame back like L.T. He simply has to be the back that Tomlinson was not a year ago, and that's not exactly raising the Titanic. Tomlinson was so ineffective that when the Chargers needed him most -- and I'm talking about their playoff opener against the Jets -- he produced 24 yards rushing and touched the ball once in the fourth quarter when they squandered a lead they would never regain.

    The trust the club had in him for so many years was gone, and soon so was Tomlinson. Now the Bolts have a back who is younger and, they believe, better than L.T. was a year ago; he must be for San Diego to produce a balanced attack. All Mathews must do is improve on Tomlinson's numbers and help make San Diego something more than one of the league's bottom feeders in rushing. If you want to call that pressure I'm sure he'd be the first to embrace it.

    I understand the club gave up a lot to acquire him, but you do that when you have a conviction about a player. And the Chargers have the conviction in Mathews that they lost in Tomlinson. He is young. He is powerful. He breaks tackles. He has home-run speed. He is quick through the hole. He can block. He has good hands, great vision and balance. And he is reliable. In short, he is everything the Chargers must have to rebuild a running game.

    So he replaces a living legend. Big deal. It's not as if L.T. is coming off a career season. On second thought, he is. He is coming off a career worst season.

    Joseph Addai had a much steeper hill to climb in 2006 when the Indianapolis Colts drafted him to replace Edgerrin James. Unlike Tomlinson, James was coming off a productive year -- with 1,506 yards rushing, a career-best 13 rushing TDs and a 4.2-yards per carry average. But Indianapolis president Bill Polian preferred to invest in a young back rather than a veteran who averaged 339.5 carries in the six seasons he played without a season-ending injury.

    So he drafted Addai, and within a year the Colts were in the Super Bowl.

    My point is this: We all know that Ryan Mathews has to produce, but isn't that standard for anyone taken with the 12th pick? If you're chosen that high, somebody must think you're capable of making an impact, and that someone is Chargers general manager, A.J. Smith. He knows what he had last year, and what he had was a one-dimensional team that couldn't win a playoff game. So he promised to fix it, and trading up to draft a big-time running back -- hello, Ryan Mathews -- is the fix.

    What Mathews will experience next is no different than what Marshawn Lynch had to experience in 2007 after Buffalo traded away Willis McGahee and handed Lynch the ball or what LeSean McCoy will experience this season now that Philadelphia has moved on without Brian Westbrook. But what LaDainian Tomlinson will experience is something more challenging, more daunting and more intimidating.

    He must prove the Jets knew what they were doing when they cut Jones and signed him. He must prove the league's top-ranked running team doesn't suffer because of him. He must prove that, yes, in fact, it was the San Diego offensive line that held him back. And he must prove he is someone the headline-hungry New York media will want to celebrate, not excoriate. In short, he must prove the Chargers made a mistake by letting him go.

    And Ryan Mathews? He doesn't need to prove anything more than he's the back LaDainian Tomlinson was not in 2009. Pressure? You bet there's pressure, only it's not on Ryan Mathews.
     
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  2. Fouts

    Fouts I heart Deano!

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    Good article, spot on! :tup:
     
  3. LightEmUp

    LightEmUp Banned Banned

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    Looooooong winded and full of bias.

    Sorry, not interested.
     
  4. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

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    Ok, I'll say it. We will win the SuperBowl this season with the rookie Mathews at RB. I'll bump this post in February, 2011! :tup:
     
  5. cranberry

    cranberry BoltTalker

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    The only pressure on Ryan is to be better than LT last season.
    I think of yards - and he will do it quick.

    I'm sorry about LT. He has a chance in the AFC-east, but
    a difficult one.
     
  6. Enormo

    Enormo BoltTalker

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    Long winded and patently obvious.
     
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  7. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

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    Hmm... someone might have to change his username then.

    :icon_tease:
     
  8. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

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    RM33!!!! :abq2: :abq2:

    Btw, how DO you change your username? :unsure:
     
  9. bigmike.x.09

    bigmike.x.09 Well-Known Member

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    One T is #24
     
  10. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Well-Known Member

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    Can I get away with officially saying F Tomlinson? (LT is used for that rapist guy in New York). With all of his crying and blaming AJ and Norv I can say that he is like Favre to me and officially has tarnished his legacy. That is in the book of CoronaDoug. I am no longer a passenger on this Tomlinson guys bandwagon. I don't care anymore about him. Let us stop posting crap about this Jet.
    Rant off..
     
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  11. MasterOfPuppets

    MasterOfPuppets Charger fan since 1979

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    I agree with the article, and I hope the Chargers are proven right by letting LT go
     
  12. Brundlefly

    Brundlefly Well-Known Member

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    You've perfect summed up my feelings
     
  13. foober

    foober BoltTalker

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    Frack, If matthews can get those tough short yards that L.T. had trouble getting then I'm gonna love the guy. We have needed a rb that can get short yards in much needed situtions for years now. We'd have won a couple of super bowls now if we'd had such a rb.:yes:
     
  14. MasterOfPuppets

    MasterOfPuppets Charger fan since 1979

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    for those that are saying that we should stop posting about LT because he's a jet and no longer important, I gotta say that the RM vs LT comparison will be a valid one next year since that's how the FO will be judged for this move

    I hope that in 9 years will be debating RM's vs LT's careers in San Diego (RM will win because he'll have more rings :tup:)
     
  15. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    Props to you, dood.
     
  16. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

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    So RM is going to be #24 for sure yes?

    RM24 it is! :tup:
     
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  17. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

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    Yup.

    In one of his interviews he asked about choosing #24. He said it was as close to #21 as he could get, without actually taking #21.

    #20 (Cason), #22 (Hester), and #23 (Jammer) are taken, obviously.
     
  18. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

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    I am now officially RM24! Thank you "in_a_days"!
     
  19. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    AS it turns out we didn't need LT last year, we needed a guy who could get a 2nd and 4 or 3rd and 2. When teams became aware of the fact we had to pass on short yardage it was easy to play us. Disregard LT and play the pass, even if they do hand off to LT he'll fall down at the first sign of contact. Call the punter in, we gat them where we want them.
     
  20. ChargerRay

    ChargerRay #FireMcCoy #FirePagano Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    Sent to me by a fan. Pretty good Photoshop job.

    [​IMG]
     
  21. bigmike.x.09

    bigmike.x.09 Well-Known Member

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    its better than mine! :lol:
     
  22. Aggieman

    Aggieman I bleed blue and gold

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    I'll say. DAMN good indeed
     

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