LaDainian Tomlinson. The most well known Charger of our time. After 9 seasons of a prolific career, a legend is replaced by a promising rookie in Ryan Mathews, who only wants to be like his predecessor, a tall if not near impossible order to follow. Holding the football between his number 24, he will carry a team that strives to balance a running game around superstar quarterback Philip Rivers.
Against the Arizona Cardinals, the game was all about Defense and Rivers to Gates. Some day we'll see a show dedicated to those two... Anyway, on to Mathews. Look at that pic. He's flailing his arm around for balance, just like L.T. used to do. It's clear who he models his running after, which means, we've got a future HOF rookie in the works. With Tolbert getting the majority of carries, Mathews was limited but had a wonderful day to remember. Since the game was pretty much over at the half, he didn't need to carry the running load, being the first rounder and all. Turner probably wanted to keep Mathews fresh and healthy from his ankle injury, though it should be noted that after a practice injury on thursday he wore elbow wrap like Cooper always has. Let's break down the Rookie's day and see what old man Tomlinson did in Buffalo.
8,5,13,15,1TD,3(botched handoff, fumble),9,5,2,5,7,7,9,1,2,7,-1(funny),9,26TD. Those were L.T.'s 19 carries against Buffalo. I must say, he continues to look like the player we once watched every week. What was so funny? If you didn't see the game, Buffalo clearly had a 9 man blitz to stop the run. Someone like Rivers would have audibled, or at least faked the audible to back off the Bills rush. Sanchez, with his inexperience, just assumed his 5 blockers could each handle 2 players at a time. He did learn the second time though, and Tomlinson's presence still commands respect, as it did here sometimes. When the Bills came on an 11 man blitz he just floated the ball to the end zone for a TD. Anyway, Tomlinson has had a 20+ yard run in 4 consecutive games so far. He had like what, one last year? I'm happy for his progress but there's still a little bitterness. I hope he can put out the little fire he left here upon his release. Now lets look at Bam-Bam
7,6,7,15,2,20,1,-1,-2. First off, Norv Turner is a brilliant playcaller. Naanee comes in motion to the slot, leaving the defense to shift left. Mathews gets the open field for a pass and gets 13 yards. Plays like that need to happen more often. His speed and power make me hungry to watch. His first run, a pitch for 7 yards could have gone for much longer if a) he had followed Dombo to the outside (10-14 yards), or b) if Legs had blocked a little better, leaving Hester to seal Haggans inside, (9-11 yards). On his 6 yarder, he kinda hesitated as to whether to take Rhodes outside or try and run him over. Not much to do there, maybe he gets one or two more yards if he keeps running. You can tell Coach wants to get Bam Bam in space, as he gets yet another pitch out, but Legs holds J-peezy and that messes up the run. Next, came the highlight of the day, Mathews runs 15 yards for paydirt, and his First NFL Touchdown!! Arizona DT Alan Branch gets spun around by Tyronne Green, taking away his ability to make a tackle for no gain, and Hester whacks Adrian Wilson, giving Mathew the edge on a near-perfectly excecuted Strong Power O. Gates ran Clark Haggans completely out of the play, so Mathews only had one real guy to beat, and that was Kerry Rhodes. Mathews turned the edge quickly and stretched out for the pylon.
Great day, Bam Bam. Its a shame I won't get to see you next week. I'll be out of the country, going to Honduras to spend some time with my wife at La Ensenada Resort. If someone would kindly take my 4 chapters as a template and post up Chapter five for me, that would be wonderful. I'd owe you a delicious Bacon Taco. Oh, and about Mathews' negative yardage runs... Jeromey Clary couldn't get a good block on Alan Branch, and Clark Haggans was too much for Randy Mcmichael on the edge, so Hester couldn't get through correctly, and Mathews got stuck with no where to go. On the other one, Everyone failed. Terry, Dombo, Mooch, all just sealed the middle, even though the run was going to the edge. It was a bad time to call a weak side run as it seemed no one knew where to go until there were 3 Cardinals in Mathews' face. Oh well. Game was over at that point anyway.
Here's the season totals so far:
Congratulations to L.T. on passing Tony Dorsett on the all time rushing list.