New Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn played six years in the NFL as a running back and carved out his coaching career by building ground-and-pound attacks. Now taking over his new team, Lynn likes his new sledgehammer, Melvin Gordon.
"I've watched some tape on him," Lynn said, via ESPN.com. "Man, he has some upside. He did a hell of a job from his rookie year to his sophomore year. And I told him we can take this to another level. We're going to do some things running-wise that I can think can help him."
After struggling his rookie year, Gordon took off in 2016, falling three yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark after suffering an injury that took him out for the final three games of the season. In his second season, Gordon displayed less hesitancy hitting the hole, power to plow through tacklers, big-play ability (fourth-most runs of 15-plus yards) and an ability to create creases behind a mediocre offensive line. That the Chargers' run game became nonexistent when Gordon went down with injury shows his importance to the offense.
"He's not there yet," Lynn said. "But that's what is encouraging to me. When I look at the tape, I say, 'Oh my goodness, we can help him get better here and here.' And he's already good. But there's more yards [to be gained]."
Although Lynn has less than one full season as a coordinator on his resume, he believes his experience with running backs can aid Gordon's improvement.
"But I do have an insight at the position that I can help the running backs with," Lynn said. "And a lot of it is the little things. People ask me, 'How did you coach LaDainian Tomlinson to do what he did when he played for me (with the New York Jets)?' He was unbelievable, and a lot of that is god-given ability. But you can help make a runner's vision better, get his runs reads better and get him more decisive."
Asked what type of runner he'd compare Gordon to, Lynn chose Eddie George as someone with the most similar traits, but noted the Chargers back has bits of several successful runners.
"When he wants to be physical, he can be physical," Lynn said about Gordon. "He's not quite the Chris Ivory. He's built similar to Chris Ivory. Chris Ivory is more powerful, but Mel's a powerful man, too. He's young, and he's still growing.
"He has quick enough feet to elude. He doesn't have the speed of a Chris Johnson, but he's an upright runner that can sidestep and elude. He has good vision, good instincts."
If the Chargers want to climb the ladder in a deep AFC West, they'll need Gordon to power the offense. The new coach believes he can help turn his third-year back into that offensive engine.