Cosell Talks Ryan MathewsThursday, June 28, 2012
With the two young NFC East backs out of the way, I shifted gears in Thursday's Greg Cosell interview to Chargers third-year back Ryan Mathews. I love Mathews this season. I love his skill level, potential, and the system in which he plays. I broke him down in late May.
Cosell was effusive in his praise of Mathews' talent.
"I really like his skill set," Cosell said poignantly. "Obviously, he came out and they traded up to take him with the 12th pick because they saw him, truly, as a foundation back. And that's what Norv Turner likes to have -- a foundation back. I think he's got the skill set to be that.
"I think he's quick. I think he's got short-area burst. I think he's got some speed. There's nothing about the way he runs that I don't like. We know he's had some fumbling issues, and that's the quickest way NOT to be a feature back. Because if you're going to carry the ball 20-plus times a game, you obviously can't put it on the ground. That's not a profound statement. I mean, that's not a brilliant comment. But obviously, you can't do that.
"But I think in terms of running skill set, if I'm to look at the backs in the league, I think he could be a top-five guy."
There are question marks about Mathews that go beyond his on-field ability, though, and that's no secret. Cosell indicated that he shares those concerns.
"So the question is, can he do it for 16 games?" Cosell said. "Because one of the things about being one of those kinds of backs, where you truly are asked to carry 17, 18, 23, 24 times a game, depending on the game, there's a mental element to that, as well as a physical element. Because you have to have a mindset to be able to do that in the third and fourth quarter."
Cosell expects those questions to be answered in 2012.
"A lot of guys have great skill, but when you're asked to carry the ball over and over and over again against defenses that hit you," he said. "... I mean, LaDainian Tomlinson just talked about this in an interview -- about getting hit hard on every play. There's a mindset that goes along with that. And I think we'll have to see. This will be the year we see if Ryan Mathews truly has that mentality."
Next up: Jets running back Shonn Greene.