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San Diego Chargers' Silver Lining: Ryan Mathews

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Look.....shut up. I don't want to hear about Ryan Mathews' fumble just 5 yards away from a touchdown that would've given the San Diego Chargers the lead over the Atlanta Falcons. I don't want to hear about how it sucked the life out of the team, or how they never really recovered because they became one-dimensional after that and, in doing so, highlighted Mathews' worst feature (pass blocking) and hid his good features (running with the ball in his hand).

We're here to focus on good things. Here are the good things we can take away from Ryan Mathews' first regular season game of 2012:

  • His clavicle is fine. The Falcons made sure of that by hitting him really hard in the clavicle area, and slamming his shoulder to the turf, more than once. He got up each time without issue.
  • He has very little rust, but it's there. That means that Ryan's good enough, now, to be an improvement over Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley and Jackie Battle, and he'll get better with each week.
  • He's still a game-changer. He played about half the game and still managed to get 76 yards on 15 touches. The Chargers are counting on him for 25-30 touches a game, and are hoping to get roughly 150 yards out of him, and that seems likely.
  • Fine, let's talk about the fumble. In 2010, Mathews lost a fumble once every 90 touches. In 2011, Mathews lost a fumble once every 136 touches. Chances are, Ryan didn't turn into a guy that fumbles once ever 15 touches. Actually, it's highly probable that the fumble he lost was due to rust and a lack of football contact over the last month. What I'm saying is that we shouldn't expect a fumble from him every game. We should expect this to get better, just like his health and fitness, during the season.
So, there's our silver lining. If I told you in the preseason "Mathews will be back by Week 3, but his rust will somehow contribute to a loss, but for the rest of the season he'll be a beast"'d take that, right? I would. There are signs that this could be the deal we're being given.