January 17, 2018
How the Haters Motivated Melvin Gordon

1,581 total yards from scrimmage, which were the fifth-most in the NFL.

1,105 rushing yards, which ranked seventh in the league.

80 total first downs, which were the third-most in the NFL.

72 total points, which ranked fourth in the NFL among non-kickers.

By any definition, Melvin Gordon’s 2017 season would be seen as a rousing success from an individual standpoint.

Everyone’s definition but Gordon’s that is.

“It was average.”

Why?

“Because I wasn’t the league’s leading rusher and we didn’t go to the Super Bowl.”

That definition of success is a prime reason why Melvin Gordon has grown by leaps and bounds each of his three seasons in the NFL.  He won’t settle for anything less than the ultimate measure of individual and team success.

Still, it’s undeniable that Gordon took another step forward, firmly establishing himself as an elite NFL running back.

Among a multitude of reasons, you can thank the haters for providing fuel.

“They most definitely provide motivation,” he said.  “I hate it when people tell me I can’t do something.  That I can’t be something.  Or that I can’t achieve what I know I can achieve.  That’s been fueling me since I was younger, so when you tell me I can’t do something, I want with every bone in my body to prove you wrong.  To make you look bad.”

Gordon has had plenty of them since he was drafted, from those who believe he was selected too high to those ready to call him a bust after a difficult rookie season.  Then there are those who doubted his durability after sustaining an injury that cost him almost all of the final four games of the 2016 season.  Even this year there are those who try to knock his play despite his clear-cut success.

To them, he simply says thanks.

Take those who have spent the past few seasons saying Gordon lacks the ability to be an all-around back.  That he struggles in pass-protection, and more specifically, isn’t a reliable weapon in the passing game.

Well, they are all eating crow now as he ranked eighth in receptions (58), seventh in receiving yards (476) and fourth in TD catches (four) among NFL running backs.

“I did that last year, too,” he said, even though it went unnoticed.  “It feels good.  All you ever want to do is show people that you’re an all-around back.  Since coming out of college I was listed as a back that can only run the ball.  I can’t catch.  I can’t do this.  I can’t do that.  It’s good to be a position where I can show I can do all those things.  That I am an all-around back.”

As far as pass protection goes, that’s one area that his teammates and coaches inside Hoag Performance Center have lauded him for his continued development.

“It’s appreciated by the quarterback, and the linemen, obviously,” Gordon explained. “Yeah, some people look over that, obviously, but real coaches, coordinators and so on, they notice it, too. But I’m not sure those analysts will.”

One of those teammates is Russell Okung, who has been around some of the league’s top backs over his Pro Bowl career before joining the Bolts this season.  The veteran left tackle was quick to point out all Gordon brings to the table.

“Mel can catch it, run it really well and he’s understanding protections well, too,” Okung said.  “I tell him every day, ‘I think you can be really special.  Just keep pushing yourself.’  He needs to just keep battling to become a more mature player.  A more well-rounded player.  I think the sky’s the limit for him.”

Even though Gordon considers 2017 “average,” he does acknowledge a significant amount of positives he’ll take away when he reflects upon his third NFL season.

“That I’m definitely an every-down back,” he said.  “That’s for sure.  Getting over 1,000 yards was big.  And that 87-yard run, that was the longest I ever had in my career going back to college.  Taking it to the crib from that distance, not many backs get an 87-yarder.  I’m fortunate enough to have done that.”

Source: Chargers | Ricky Henne | January 16, 2018