SAN DIEGO -- Besides the obvious that offensive linemen like run blocking better that pass protection, there’s a reason San Diego Chargers center Matt Slauson wants to run the football more.
His running back Melvin Gordon is rolling at the midpoint of this season.
"Melvin ran better than maybe I’ve ever seen him," Slauson said about Gordon’s 111-yard rushing effort in a loss to Denver last week. "He was decisive, confident and powerful. It was a lot of fun to watch. It was a lot of fun to block for a guy when he’s running like that."
The numbers back up Slauson’s claim. Gordon is No. 7 in the NFL rushing with 572 yards, and leads the NFL in total touchdowns with 10.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Gordon has 298 yards after contact, which is No. 4 in the NFL. And with Danny Woodhead out for the season, Gordon has been called on to be more active in the passing game. He’s answered the bell, totaling 24 receptions for 219 yards through eight games.
Gordon’s 791 yards from scrimmage also is No. 7 in the league. The Wisconsin product is averaging just over 20 carries and 50 snaps a game. Gordon said the steady work is helping to get him into a rhythm, and paying dividends at the end of the game.
"You know it’s going to be a tough game the first three quarters, and eventually in the fourth quarter things start to get rolling," Gordon said. "Things open up and you start feeling it.
"You get into that zone, the linemen get into that zone and you start feeling it. When everyone’s on the same page and things are clicking, explosive plays come from that."
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco moved up in the first round to select Gordon last season because he felt the physical runner was one of the few difference-makers left on the board.
So far, Telesco likes the improvement that he’s seen from Gordon in his second season after failing to get into the end zone as a rookie.
"Melvin has been running extremely hard," Telesco told the team’s web site. "He has shown he has an all-around game as far as running the football, pass protection and catching the ball. We have had to rely on that a lot."
Now that he’s in a groove, Gordon has to keep it going. And that means staying healthy and continuing to develop better chemistry with the offensive line.
Chargers guard Orlando Franklin said the more the offense can consistently run the football, the more offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will call running plays.
Slauson questioned his team’s commitment to running the football earlier this week. The Chargers have called just 38 percent designed runs this season.
"The more you’re able to run the football they’re going to be willing to call those plays," Franklin said. "You’ve got to be effective early and often in the game, because if he calls a running play and we’re not able to execute and that play does not get any yards, we’re not going to go back to that."
Eric D. Williams | espn.com | November 3, 2016