• In a world where fumbles and injuries don’t exist, Ryan Mathews(notes) is King. The maddening San Diego back has nine fumbles on just 345 pro touches, and he’s missed time due to injury in each of the last five seasons — two at San Diego, three at Fresno State. This is the very definition of unreliable, friends. You can’t hitch your offense up to a back like this, not in the current form.
I do believe you can cure a back of fumbling, though — look at what Tom Coughlin did for Tiki Barber. But I doubt the solution to the Mathews Matrix is currently on the San Diego coaching staff. If the Chargers don’t completely clean house before the 2012 season, it’s an insult to all of San Diego. (While you were reading this paragraph, Norv Turner wasted a couple of timeouts, then looked up at the sky with that “where did I park my car?” puzzled look on his face.)
Mike Tolbert(notes) should see an increased role down the stretch (against a mixed bag of rushing defenses), but the Chargers know he’s really not suited to be a featured back. Assuming Mathews is back in town next year, look for the club to bring in a significant runner to challenge him for the starting gig. Players with multiple-year injury histories don’t turn into Iron Men overnight. (The McFadden Youth is solemnly nodding along.)