The San Diego Chargers aren’t having a very good season; it’s a disaster so far. Injuries have plagued the team, maybe more than anyone else in the league. But there are still things to do in order to improve. Like making this less about Philip Rivers doing everything and starting to make more use of rookie running back Melvin Gordon.
Gordon was the team’s 15th overall pick in the draft, but they don’t treat him that way. They prefer Danny Woodhead in key situations, especially inside the red zone. In the loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, Gordon played on just 39% of the team’s snaps despite the Chargers holding the lead for most of the game. Eventually they lost it, and maybe giving up on using Gordon, who was a consistent, reliable workhorse for Wisconsin in college, would have changed that outcome.
Meanwhile, the Chargers keep throwing the ball, with more passing yards than anyone in the league, but ranked just 30th in rushing (the only worse teams are Cleveland and Detroit) per game, and 28th in yards per attempt. Rivers is doing fine personally, but the team is too one sided offensively, which keeps costing them in the red zone, especially late in games, when it seems defenses know what’s going to happen.
Taking a rookie running back like Gordon so early and then giving him just 12.6 carries per game is misusing his talent, or at least missing out on the opportunity to find out how good he is. He might not be Todd Gurley, who has been close to unstoppable since Jeff Fisher starting playing him, but there’s plenty more he can do, so far producing just 413 yards on 114 carries, averaging a disappointing 3.6 yards per carry, still not scoring a single touchdown.
Making Gordon more involved won’t get the Chargers into the playoffs, but from every bad season opportunities to find out and establish things regarding the team’s future need to be done. Putting Gordon through more difficult games and punishing carries is a must for the team, unless they want to give up on a first round pick before finding out what he can do for them.