“To win, you have to be able to run the football. Obviously we didn’t do as well as we wanted to last year, so we became too one dimensional. We just didn’t run the ball the way we wanted to, and we weren’t consistent.”
No, that is not a quote from Captain Obvious, that is from Chargers Running Backs Coach Ollie Wilson – and if you are the majority of Chargers fans, you are wondering how he kept his job after the way the Chargers running backs preformed last season. There was a buzz amongst the fans last season when we selected Melvin Gordon 15th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. And how could you blame the Bolts fans for getting excited over Melvin’s stats coming out of Wisconsin?
In Melvin Gordon’s 4 years at Wisconsin, he averaged 7.8 yards per rush, with 45 touchdowns, and 5,143 total yards from scrimmage! This kid was a beast in college, and Chargers fans even went as far as to compare him to Chargers Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson.
To make a long story short, Melvin’s rookie campaign was nothing like anyone expected. You can make an argument that it was the Chargers offensive line troubles that caused such a poor performance, or you could say he needed a true fullback, or that he was simply a product of Wisconsin’s football program and their massive offensive line. But whatever you want to blame it on, Melvin did not live up to the hype. To make matters worse Gordon was hurt in week 15 of last season, damaging the cartilage in his knee and requiring microfracture surgery. Fast forward to today, and Melvin is participating fully in Chargers’ camp – he certainly did not have 100% confidence in his surgically repaired knee at the start of camp. You can see in this video from OTAs, that he was unable to even change direction by cutting on his right knee without almost completely losing his balance. When Melvin was asked about this, he claimed:
“I’m pretty good, I think I’m making some cuts I need to make. At first I was missing some cuts that I thought I could make, that I was seeing, but I didn’t feel I could get there. Now, anytime I see a cut or a cut that needs to be made, I can make it.”
Like most of you Chargers fans, I can only hope that Melvin bounces back and looks like the elite running back we all want him to be. With the re-hiring of Ken Whisenhunt and drafting Gordon’s former teammate and lead blocker / fullback Derek Watt, we could see a big boost in his production. Behind Gordon on the depth chart is Branden Oliver, and Danny Woodhead.
Branden Oliver’s 2015 season was cut short when he was placed on injured reserve after week 8, due to turf toe. Melvin Gordon claims he will be ready for the season, and figures to be the feature back, with Danny Woodhead handling most of the passing down work. Oliver will be the backup for both roles, and could see some time as a starter if Gordon underperforms or continues catching the injury bug.
Danny Woodhead will continue to serve as a 3rd down / passing down back. Last season Woody was fantastic at racking up yards after the catch with a league leading 688 yards, and served as the safety valve receiving many dump off passes from Philip Rivers as he ran for his life behind our patched up offensive line. The injury bug has already made its way to mini camp, and Woodhead rolled his ankle and was down for quite some time before walking off the field and sitting out the final day of camp. It seems Danny avoided any long term injury, but not what we want to hear coming out of camp this early in the off-season.
Which Chargers Running Back Will Have The Best Stats In 2016?
We want to know who you think will have the best all around statistics in this upcoming 2016/2017 NFL season. Will Melvin bounce back and perform like we all want him to? Will Branden Oliver take over the starting running back spot or will Danny Woodhead become such a crucial piece of the passing game, he racks up even more stats than Oliver and Gordon?