Jobs were lost in San Diego this offseason in part because a running game, featuring a first-round pick, never found traction. The Chargers fired Frank Reich and brought back Ken Whisenhunt.
Whiz’s first objective is to jumpstart the limp running game.
“The first thing I will say is there were a lot of good things that were done last year offensively,” he said, whisenhunt-prioritizes-jumpstarting-running-game” target=”_blank”>via the team’s official website. “But the one thing that stands out is we need to run the football better than we did last year. There is no blame associated there, as there are always factors that are involved. But that is probably the biggest thing we have to do, because then your play action builds off of that, your time of possession increases where you can control the ball and you are in better third down situations. All of those things tie in together. Now, it’s hard to say you can improve on all of those things significantly in the offseason because there are no pads, but I think you can lay the groundwork for what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. That will carry over into training camp.”
In Whisenhunt’s lone season as Chargers OC in 2013, San Diego ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing. In the two seasons since, they’ve ranked 30th and 31st.
The biggest job for Whisenhunt is to get first-round selection Melvin Gordon moving forward. Gordon averaged 3.5 yards per carry on 184 attempts for 641 yards during his rookie campaign and never saw the end zone. Gordon suffered from indecisiveness, never displayed an ability to break a tackle and had a fumbling problem.
Whisenhunt attributed some of those struggles to being a rookie and dismissed the fumbling as an indictment on Gordon’s future.
“Obviously one thing that jumps into everybody’s mind are his fumbles, but if you think back to Tiki Barber and what a great player he was, well he struggled with fumbles early on, too. So let’s not panic about that,” Whisenhunt said. “Yes, it is something we’ve got to work on, but Melvin is a talented guy. The important thing for us is what does he do well from a run game perspective? Is it a power/counter scheme, or is it a zone scheme? What are his strengths, and how do they fit with us? How can we put him in those situations? I think it is important he gets reps, and comfortable with the courses he is taking. Last year, he didn’t get a chance to be exposed to that, so it will be easier for him with us having him for the whole offseason. He is also a good receiver, and catches the ball well out of the backfield. I’m excited about what he is going to be, and I am looking forward to that.”