The last time around, Ryan Mathews got a 70% approval rating. He was coming off of his first professional season that left us with only one stellar performance in a meaningless game to judge if he could live up to his potential as a 1st round draft pick. He had also left fans thinking about the 5 fumbles he had on the year including some big game changers. He even had two fumbles in his one breakout game. In addition, he missed part of training, missed multiple games due to injury and was left off the field on 3rd downs in favor of Darren Sproles' superior pass protection.
So, what has changed after seeing his 2011 season that might make more or less people of approve of Ryan Mathews, Chargers RB? A lot, actually. He stayed healthier, playing in 14 games and starting 13 as opposed to 12 games and 9 starts in 2010. He more than doubled his receptions and receiving yards from 2010 to 2011. He went from 678 yards on the ground to 1,091. He averaged more yards/carry, more yards/game, more yards/reception, set a new high for longest run and a new career high for longest reception. And, he got into the Pro Bowl, even if it was as a second alternate.
However, he did still fumble 5 times this season, although you can add the caveat that he touched the ball a lot more in 2011 than 2010. The team still preferred to take him out on 3rd downs to give Philip Rivers better pass protection, this time in favor of Mike Tolbert. That is somewhat worrying since it's entirely possible that Tolbert won't be back next season and either Mathews needs to get better in this area or the 3rd down passing game will suffer. He also still gets dinged up, although maybe the bright side is that he's getting better. It's still a worry though since he was seen as a little injury prone going back to his college days.
It's still a work-in-progress for this 2nd year back. But, it's obvious the trend is in the right direction. Especially if he can stay on the field and off the trainer's table.
#24 / Running Back / San Diego Chargers
May 01, 1987
|2011 - Ryan Mathews