Los Angeles Chargers offseason analysis: Running backs
By Jack Wang
Only nine NFL teams rushed for fewer than 100 yards per game in 2017. The Chargers were one of them — despite hiring a run-focused head coach and returning a Pro Bowl running back.
Anthony Lynn spent years overseeing running backs before his stint in Buffalo as an offensive coordinator and interim coach helped springboard him to the head job in Los Angeles. He was greeted with a backfield led by Melvin Gordon, who had just broken out for 1,416 yards from scrimmage after a disappointing rookie season in 2015.
The pair didn’t mesh perfectly in their first season together. Gordon set career highs with 1,105 yards on the ground and another 476 through the air — but again failed to average even 4.0 yards per carry. The 24-year-old’s career mark of 3.8 yards per carry ranks last among the league’s top 40 active leading rushers. Just ahead of him is Mike Tolbert, a fullback and short-yardage specialist.
2017 STARTERS: Melvin Gordon (284 carries, 1,105 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns)
RESERVES: Austin Ekeler (74 touches, 539 scrimmage yards, 5 total touchdowns), Branden Oliver (35 carries, 83 rushing yards), Andre Williams (9 carries, 25 rushing yards).
PENDING FREE AGENTS: Branden Oliver, Andre Williams (restricted).
Gordon finished seventh in the league in rushing, and caught for more yards than all but five other running backs. He’s a well-rounded player who can help anchor a backfield — even if he isn’t a dynamic game-breaker.
His best game of the year came in Week 5 against the Giants, where he totaled 163 yards and two touchdowns from scrimmage to help the Chargers end their 0-4 start. But four other opponents also held him to fewer than 50 rushing yards. No performance drew as much criticism as his Week 7 showing against the Broncos, who stuffed him four times in a row […]