Analysis

Philip Rivers: Too early, unfair to question Melvin Gordon

If you are expecting Chargers rookie running back Melvin Gordon to be the second coming of Ladainian Tomlinson, calm down.

Yes, the Chargers think the former Wisconsin back who ranks right behind Hall of Famer Barry Sanders for the second-most yards in a season in NCAA-FBS history, has great potential. But, if Gordon wants to own San Diego's run game, like he did Wisconsin's, he's going to have to show Chargers head coach Mike McCoy that he has the hot hand ... and that he understands pass protection enough to keep his quarterback from getting pummeled.

"It's not going to be Melvin going until he holds his hand up, like it was in those LT days," San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said this week at Chargers headquarters. "You are going to see Brandon (Oliver), you are going to see Danny (Woodhead). We are not going to be stubborn with the run game and say, 'We said we were going to run it better, so we are just going to keep calling runs'."

San Diego's front office either thought so highly of Gordon or so poorly of their 30th-ranked run game in 2014, they moved up two spots in the draft to make sure they got Gordon. Drafting a running back with the 15th overall pick gave San Diego fans, hungry for a run game since LT's departure in 2010, the green light for immediate expectations. Hold up, says Rivers.

"I think it's way too early and an unfair assessment at this point. There is nothing you can substitute for reps and carries in a game," reminds the 12th-year veteran. "I think the fans don't need to be caught up early in going 'he didn't have 22 carries for 120.' The numbers don't always tell the whole story. I think he's right where we need him to be at this point and he'll only get better the more he plays. He's been fine."

Rivers is right. I haven't talked to anyone at Chargers Park who doesn't agree that Gordon is the kind of player that will make an impact. Exactly when though, is the question that's still TBD.

Follow Alex Flanagan on Twitter @Alex_Flanagan.

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