Time to turn Melvin Gordon loose

It’s time for the San Diego Chargers to unleash Melvin Gordon. It’s time for the Chargers to take the training pants off of their heralded rookie and let him put on his big boys pants. To win some football games, the Chargers are going to have to to run the football more. It’s that simple.

That starts with giving opponents, beginning with the Kansas City Chiefs, a healthy dose of their first round (No. 15) draft pick.

Yeah, we got that Philip Rivers is on pace to pass for more than 5, 000 yards in a season. We got that Rivers is in the running again for the NFL’s most valuable player award. We know that the Chargers are in every game because of Rivers’ innate ability to will his team down the  field whenever the Chargers need him to do so. We understand the NFL is a quarterback-driven league.

We also know that the Chargers are sitting in last place in the AFC West Division with a 2-7 record. Some of that has to be attributed to the lack of a semblance of a running game. When teams play the Chargers, they fear Rivers and that explosive passing attack. They don’t fear Gordon. They don’t respect San Diego’s running game.

Why should they? Through the first nine games of the season, Gordon has produced 413 yards rushing the football. As a team, the Chargers are No. 30 out of 32 teams in rushing, going for 768 yards on the ground. That’s not going to scare a whole lot of teams.

Melvin Gordon is the Chargers first round draft pick. Photo by Jevone Moore/News4usonline.com
Melvin Gordon is the Chargers first round draft pick. Photo by Jevone Moore/News4usonline.com

And if you’re looking for comparison between Gordon and Ryan Mathews, whom the Chargers drafted in 2010 to be “the guy,” the current Philadelphia Eagles running back has rushed for 427 yards this season. But to be fair to Gordon, the former Wisconsin stud is on pace to surpass what Mathews (678 yards) did as a rookie when he was with the team. There’s always room to do more, though. A lot more.

For the Chargers to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, besides winning all out the rest of the season, the formula of running the football is almost a mandate. Running the football successfully has become a necessity for the Chargers this late in the season. If the Chargers fail to move the ball on the ground enough to keep the chains moving when it matters, their postseason hopes will become  awash.

Yes, it is that black and white. As great as Rivers is, the Chargers could use a little more balance that would keep defense’s guessing, which could make San Diego’s offense even more lethal. Rivers and the Chargers chucked the ball 65 times in a 27-20 road loss to the Green Bay Packers, and still came up on the short end in the win-loss column. Gordon rushed the ball seven times for 29 yards.

In a 37-29 defeat at home to the Oakland Raiders, Rivers went to the air 58 times, while Gordon got the ball for a grand total of seven rushing attempts for 29 yards. Those kind of numbers won’t get it done against solid or elite defensive-minded teams. And for the season, Gordon has yet to crack the 100-yard rushing plateau. He was close in the Chargers’ 24-19 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, when he rushed for 88 yards on 16 carries.

Since then, Gordon has barley gone over 50 yards in rushing, and he has only done that twice. In the Chargers’ last five games, all losses, Gordon has carried the ball 57 times for 185 yards. Those numbers have to improve for the Chargers to have a good chance at winning the rest of their games. At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Gordon is a bonafide stud at the running back position.

He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting last year when he was a touchdown waiting to happen while playing for the Badgers. In his senior season alone, Gordon rushed for 2, 587 yards and 29 touchdowns, averaging 7.5 yards a carry. Those numbers and the prospect of the upside potential of Gordon as a running back in the NFL is why the Chargers made him their their top draft pick.

There’s no reason why Gordon cannot to be just as productive on the NFL level as he was ripping through college defenses. So, turn him loose.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1167 Articles

Dennis covers the NFL (Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a proud alum of Howard University.