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Could this be Ryan Mathews' best season?

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews has been earning acclaim for his performance through the first seven weeks of the 2013 NFL season, but is it the best start he's ever had? Maybe not.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Everyone always seems to forget Ryan Mathews' 2011 campaign. In his sophomore season, the running back that the San Diego Chargers drafted out of Fresno State kind of lived up to expectations.

Mathews played in fourteen games that season, fighting through foot, knee, groin and calf injuries all year. He actually only missed one game in the season that mattered, missing the final game only after the Chargers had been statistically eliminated from playoff contention.

Here are his stats for the 2011 season:

Rush Attempts Rush Yds Rush Yds/Carry Catches Rec Yds Total TDs
222 1091 4.91 50 455 6

272 touches, 1500+ total yards and 6 TDs? The only thing that makes that season "really good" and not MVP-worthy is all of the goal line carries that went to Mike Tolbert (who had 8 rushing TDs). Oh, and I suppose the 5 fumbles (only 2 of them lost) Ryan had over the course of the season. However, after a great start to the season, Mathews was arguably the most valuable player in the entire league and helped lead the team to a 4-1 start.

Knowing that Chargers fans would be pretty pumped to get those types of stats out of Mathews in 2013 (although, hopefully, with less fumbles), I think I'd like to compare where he was after seven games that season with where his is currently.

2011 (first 7 games):
Rush Attempts Rush Yds Rush Yds/Carry Catches Rec Yds Total TDs
111 509 4.59 30 342 3

Wow, that is almost exactly half of what he did on the entire season. Talk about consistency.

(At this point, Mathews had 2 fumbles and 1 of them was lost to the opposing team.)

2013 (first 7 games):
Rush Attempts Rush Yds Rush Yds/Carry Catches Rec Yds Total TDs
110 446 4.05 7 66 2

Well, hmmm.

It would appear that, as a runner, Ryan is having almost the exactly same season he had in 2011 (although, you could argue that this is about six games worth of playing time because Mathews missed most of the Raiders game).

It would also appear that, as we've been quietly complaining about, Mathews as a receiving threat/option has been marginalized.

(Through seven games, Mathews has fumbled the ball just once, and it was lost the opposing team.)

So, will Mathews find a way to top his 2011 campaign in 2013?