After flying across the country and handing the Buffalo Bills a 22-10 defeat, the San Diego Chargers were no doubt feeling pretty good about themselves.
Following a heartbreaking 18-17 loss in the desert to start the season against Arizona, the Chargers rebounded the following weekend in fine fashion, topping the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks at home 30-21. That win, however, came at a price.
Coming off a season that saw his best rushing total to date, starting running back Ryan Mathews was carted off the field in the Seattle game with a knee injury; a setback that leaves him out of action indefinitely.
Fast forward the clock to last weekend and the Chargers were leaving Buffalo with more bad news.
Running back Danny Woodhead, one of the backs expected to pick up the load (along with Donald Brown), with Mathews out for the count, suffered his own setback.
Woodhead was injured in the first quarter, an injury that was later diagnosed as a broken fibula. That injury has put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season as well.
With both Mathews and Woodhead unavailable, San Diego (2-1) turned to the duo of Brown and Branden Oliver last Sunday.
Okay, not exactly household names by any means, but it appears the two will carry the load until (and if) Mathews is able to return and contribute.
With that said, it wasn’t like the Bolts were tearing up any NFL rushing yardage records even with Mathews and Woodhead in the lineup. Most fans who follow the Bolts will tell you that the rushing game compliments the efforts of quarterback Philip Rivers and his wide receivers/tight ends. The Chargers have not had a dominant running back since LaDainian Tomlinson.
As the Chargers head into a schedule that could lead them to a 6-1 record heading into a Thursday night showdown on Oct. 23 against the Denver Broncos, a rushing attack is almost mandatory.
You have to think that Rivers and his receivers will have an off day at some point, whereby Brown, Oliver or someone else will have to step up to help the team’s offensive attack.
Starting with their win over Buffalo last weekend, the Chargers now have to face life without Mathews (indefinitely) and Woodhead (remainder of season) moving forward.
If the Chargers can get anything out of their run game for the time being, they still have an excellent shot at competing for the AFC West crown.
If not, Rivers is going to have to be put up some record-setting passing numbers.