Chargers running back Ryan Mathews hasn't lived up to the expectations bestowed upon a first-round draft pick, and he knows that. He said Wednesday that he needs to forget about 2012, come back in 2013 and vindicate the team that traded up to select him with the 12th overall pick in 2010.
"It was just a bad year," Mathews told the team's official web site. "That's all you can say. You just have to look forward to next year, watch your film and do your homework, take the time for your body to rest and come back here just explosive. It's time for me to show them why they bumped up to the spot they did to draft me. I've shown greatness at some times and I've shown I can be the worst player at some times. You just have to be consistent and that's what I plan to do."
In order to do that stuff, Mathews needs to stay on the field. He missed four games in his rookie season because of a sprained ankle. Mathews played in 14 games last season while being bothered by calf and groin ailments, and he bookended this season with fractures to each collarbone. That's obstacle No. 1.
After that, Mathews needs to assure his next coach and general manager that he won't put the ball on the turf. Recently fired Chargers general manager A.J. Smith didn't mince words earlier in the year when describing his frustration toward Mathews and his fumbling problems -- "When you get the call to go back on the field and the fumbling continues, then you will be somebody else's fumbler." A fumble in Week 8 cost him a start in Week 9, although he didn't fumble in his final seven games. Mathews, 25, is a three-down back who still holds quite a lot of upside, but the risks weigh heavy as well. I probably won't touch him in my drafts next season, but if Mathews pans out, he will end up being a very good fantasy value pick.