I'm Giving Up On People Who've Given Up On Melvin Gordon

It's premature to jump off the Chargers rookie running back's bandwagon

Wow. I knew NFL fans were a fickle bunch but I had no idea it was this bad. OK, be honest now … raise your hand if you’re worried about Melvin Gordon. Just throw a hand up if you’ve even had thoughts that the Chargers reached for him and wasted a Draft pick, he’s not ready for the NFL game, or he’s simply going to be a bust. Go on, don’t be shy.

It’s alright because you are certainly not alone. There is an alarming groundswell of people forming the opinion that Gordon’s preseason performance means the Chargers made a mistake of Ryan Leaf proportions in moving up two spots to grab him in the first round.

I mean, 45 yards on 20 carries with a long run of eight yards and zero touchdowns for a man considered one of the best two running backs (with Todd Gurley) in this year’s Draft class? Are you serious? Jim Brown could put up those kinds of numbers TODAY and he's 79 years old. At least, that’s what I keep hearing from fans and on sports-talk radio and in online comments.

Has it been a little bit disappointing, given all the hype about this kid, not to have seen him rip off a 65-yard touchdown run and announce his presence with authority? Sure, a little bit. But have we all forgotten the preseason is a time for learning? Sure, a little bit more.

But a lack of preseason pop is not an indictment of a man’s career. I’m going to show you four different stat lines from rookie running backs in their inaugural preseasons. Tell me which ones you would like to have:

Carries    Yards    Average    Longest Run
     34          146          4.3           18 yds
     34          182          5.4           26 yds
     18            36          2.0           15 yds
     22            37          1.7             9 yds

Which one would you choose? Probably one of the first two guys, right? Good averages, a couple of explosive runs in there, overall they look like potential studs. The second two guys are obviously overmatched and will never figure out the NFL game.

The first guy is Ryan Mathews. The second guy is Darren McFadden. The third guy is Eddie Lacy. The fourth guy is Marshawn Lynch.

Now shall we re-consider which backs we’d rather have on our team?

Preseason numbers for running backs are not necessarily indications of what a back is going to be able to do in real NFL games. In 2008 Chris Johnson had a monster exhibition season with the Titans and parlayed that in to a monster regular season. But Le’Veon Bell carried four times for nine yards in his first preseason with the Steelers. All he’s done in his first two NFL seasons is average 1737 yards from scrimmage.

Sometimes it takes just a little bit of time for a running back to figure things out. Writing off Melvin Gordon after basically three quarters of exhibition football is crazy. I mean, what’s next? Are you going to tell me the Jaguars are moving to San Diego or something?

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