Exactly how devastating is the loss of Melvin Gordon?……The answer lies with Justin Jackson
Three weeks in a row now and three big time key players for the Chargers have gone down with injuries. Just when I started to think that things were changing with this team. I mean I was convinced the culture had changed. Yet here I am having déjà vu, first Denzel Perryman, then the next week Corey Liuget..and now the bell cow Melvin Gordon. Gordon who has truly developed into a top five running back in the NFL is a huge loss and most other years would probably result in any and all playoff hopes being diminished. So could this be so? Or maybe the depth this year is there to be able to sustain?
It happens every year, guys seem to come out of irrelativity and burst onto the scene and into the spotlight. Could the next man up here be rookie Justin Jackson? The question is, what exactly do we have in rookie Justin Jackson and can he be “that” guy? Between him and change of pace back Austin Ekeler could the team keep the impressive running game going, as they will undoubtedly need it if they intend on making a strong push. So many questions and so little answers. Well, that is all to do with the fact that nobody really knows what we have in Justin Jackson. At 6’0’’ and 200 pounds Jackson was selected with the Chargers last pick in the draft (7th round) and was the real deal during his collegiate days at North Western University where he earned second team all-big 10, twice. The problem is he had an injury during training camp so he saw little to no action in pre-season games where most seventh round picks get the chance to prove themselves and show what they have. The team later cut him from the roster as he couldn’t do anything to help himself make the roster. Yet they kept him on the practice squad as the coaching staff obviously had great faith in him. He had since been promoted back to the regular roster.
Unfortunately sometimes it takes injuries for a team to really know how good the bench is and if they have a diamond in the rough or not. This weeks game gave us our first glimpse of Jackson and boy did he look good. He carried the ball just seven times for 57 yards total. That comes out to be 8.1 yards a carry. However I know it was against an Arizona defense that is the 5th worst run stopping defense this season. I still choose to remain optimistic on what has been a mostly optimistic season thus far. So, if Jackson can show his worth and be half as productive as he was against Arizona on a regular basis then it might turn out that this could be an injury the team can overcome after all, even though I know the idea of losing Gordon after how productive he has been this year is gut wrenching. Think of when the great Ladainian Tomlinson got hurt and who filled in flawlessly without the team losing a step? It was late draft pick Michael Turner. Who knows maybe Jackson has some Turner magic in him. In which case this would make for a good case of déjà vu. If Jackson does prove capable then imagine the stable of quality backs the team would have moving forward. Ekeler will continue to do his job with some added touches to help out but the real test of Jackson should come next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will not be ran over nearly as easily. This is probably the biggest game of the year coming up, a true test of a potential playoff match up. So let’s hope for the best Charger fans – after all those years of bad luck i know it has gotten you guys getting down and defeated way too often. Hope lays in the depth chart! Let’s see this thing through until the end!!!