San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews touched the ball just 15 times Sunday and yet played better than he ever has in the NFL.
"Ryan had his best game since he’s been here," San Diego head coach Norv Turner said this week. "He did a great job in protection. He did an outstanding job in running the ball where things were tough."
The game has clearly slowed down for Mathews, particularly as it pertains to catching the ball.
But Mathews has a long way to go in being able to recognize and pick up blitzes, have the confidence to make the split-second decisions and take the proper line to cut off a defender.
You think pass protection is just lip service? That couldn’t be further from the truth. You wonder why Mike Tolbert got 48 snaps to Mathews’ 36 in the season opener and likely will do so for the foreseeable future? It’s because Tolbert is well ahead of Mathews in his understanding and execution of pass blocking.
Mathews is going to be a useful fantasy player. However, as long as Tolbert gets more touches, the breakout potential of Mathews isn't going to be realized.