Did the San Diego Chargers Improve at Running Back?

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Comparing last year's San Diego Chargers Running Backs to 2013's group to see how much Tom Telesco did to improve the ground game.

One of the worst pains about being a current San Diego Chargers fan is watching the rushing attack deteriorate from LaDainian Tomlinson to....well....almost nothing.

The new front office didn't make a huge splash in free agency this offseason, but a lot of what they did shows that their first goal is trying to get the running game back to where it used to be.

2012 in Review

No. Player Rush Yds Rush YPC Rush TDs Rec Yds Rec TDs
24 Ryan Mathews 707 3.8 1 252 0
44 Jackie Battle 311 3.3 3 108 1
30 Ronnie Brown 220 4.8 0 371 0
36 Curtis Brinkley 115 2.9 0 77 0
33 Le'Ron McClain 42 3.0 0 29 0

Woof. Ryan Mathews spent most of the season calcifying and was still the team's best running back, and it wasn't close. As bad as the offensive line was at keeping Philip Rivers off his back, they may have been even worse at opening up holes for the guys listed above.

Glad to see that Ronnie Brown ended up being a very efficient player. I love when veterans can find that niche instead of imploding as soon as they're not starting anymore.

2013 Chargers Running Backs

For 2013, the Chargers have added a couple new faces to the group of Running Backs, including a possible new starter.

No. Player Size Age Experience College
24 Ryan Mathews 6'0", 218lb 25 3 Fresno State
39 Danny Woodhead 5'8", 200lb 28 5 Chadron State
34 Foswhitt Whittaker 5'10", 202lb 24 1 Texas
23 Ronnie Brown 6'0", 223lb 31 8 Auburn
44 Chris Gronkowski 6'2", 245lb 26 4 Arizona
33 Le'Ron McClain 6'0", 260lb 28 6 Alabama

Really poor chance that both Gronkowski and McClain make the roster, but it's tough to know who won't be here in September so I'll include them both for now.

Woodhead provides a second dimension (hands/speed) that has been lacking from the San Diego backfield since Darren Sproles became a New Orleans Saint. He also is a serious threat to Mathews' starting job, which is good for everyone (except, possibly, Ryan Mathews).

Ronnie Brown wasted no time snagging his old favorite, #23, as soon as Quentin Jammer was out the door. That's a crafty move from a crafty veteran.

I like Foswhitt Whittaker and I don't quite know why. I think it's because I caught a few of his college games and thought that he had a real chance to be something in the NFL. Not an elite talent, but I thought he'd be one of those random backs that has a good year once the rest of the New Orleans backfield gets injured. Has good size and athleticism.

Verdict

Edge: 2013

This one is easy. Mathews is now completely calcified and the team added another viable starter that doesn't really duplicate any of the things Mathews does. Add that to the focus on rebuilding the offensive line, moving Jeromey Clary inside, and drafting D.J. Fluker.....the running game will be improved this year. That's not the question. The question is whether or not the running game will actually be good. What do you think?

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