San Diego Chargers: Could Donald Brown make an impact?


San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco and head running backs coach Ollie Wilson are somehow sold on former Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown.

Ever since his 5.3 yards-per-carry season in 2013 with the Colts, Brown has done little to nothing with the Chargers in terms of reigniting the Bolts’ running game.

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For instance, last season DB ended his 2014 campaign as the Chargers third leading rusher with just 223 yards rushing on 85 carries with 29 receptions for 211 yards through the air. In 13 games Brown averaged 2.6 yards per carry which a fellow Charger back with the same last name (Ronnie Brown) was able to conquer. In fact, Ronnie averaged 1.6 more yards per carry than Donald did in the same amount of time.

Other than Brown’s 62-yard performance against the Buffalo Bills which included 27 yards receiving on five catches for 89 total yards (the most of the season), the former UConn rusher was hardly able to amass anything great for San Diego.

However, according to an article by Eric D. Williams of ESPN, the Chargers seem to find that Donald Brown has something else to offer that the public is somehow missing.

In an interview Wilson stated “He’s got a burst that he really didn’t have last year…What Donald and I talked about a lot is his work in the open field — working one-on-one with a guy and making a guy miss. And that’s something we’re really spending a lot of time on.

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‘The advantage Donald has is he knows everything in the offense. He’s as smart as a whip — that’s why protection-wise a lot of times when we didn’t have Danny [Woodhead], he was the next guy in because he knew all of the protections.’”

Now putting all of the past history aside, what Ollie Wilson had to say is very strong news.

The fact that running backs coach Ollie Wilson, a guy who has turned LaDainian Tomlinson and Ryan Mathews into perennial rushing contenders, believes in Donald Brown should be reason enough to give Brown some attention.

According to Wilson’s bio on, “Wilson began his NFL coaching career with the Falcons and in six seasons, he mentored three 1,000-yard rushers, including the late Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, a Pro Bowl pick in 1995…Wilson helped Tomlinson rush for a team rookie-record 1,236 yards and 10 touchdowns in ’01, en route to All-Rookie and Pro Bowl alternate honors.

Wilson returned to Atlanta in 2002 and over the next six seasons, the Falcons rushed for an NFL-best 13,994 yards and set several team rushing records, including single-season rushing yards (2,939 in 2006) and touchdowns (23 in 2002).

The 2014 season will mark Wilson’s seventh back in San Diego. Since 2008, the Chargers have scored 77 touchdowns on the ground while averaging more than 1,700 rushing yards per season, including a high of 1,965 yards in 2013.”

Wilson’s opinion should be one of the first to be considered considering that he has coached some of the best backs and rushing attacks in the league.

But, should Wilson’s opinion be enough to give Brown extra carries this season? The jury remains out, folks.

In terms of who deserves carries, this season could be a humongous toss-up. After all, it is not necessarily guaranteed that rookie Melvin Gordon is going to produce the way I expect him to (let alone stay healthy). As well, who says that Danny Woodhead nor Branden Oliver deserve to be second-string or third-down backs?

Dec 7, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Donald Brown (34) runs during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In all honesty, I think Gordon and Woodhead should (and will be) the starting two backs of this San Diego Chargers offense no matter what happens in training camp. At this point we have expectations, but no solid answers until the 2015 regular season is said and completely done.

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With that said, I believe that Brown will some sort of an impact this season whether it be catching pass out of the backfield, blocking for Rivers or actually rushing the football. I think he will eventually make some impact, but not a huge one even though he will be earning a reported $4,083,333 this season alone including a million-dollar signing bonus.

Even the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Tom Krasovic agrees that Brown’s value may be over-inflated by Chargers management.

According to his article in the U-T, “Overall, though, Brown’s rushing was disappointing. He was less elusive and powerful than rookie Branden Oliver, who gained 3.5 yards per carry. Oliver, operating behind the same inconsistent blocking unit, passed him up and jump-started the offense.

“By season’s end, Ronnie Brown, 33, was the better Chargers running backs. He averaged 4.2 yards per gain in 14 carries. Donald Brown was often unable to elude defenders and win after contact. That was fairly constant, right through the Week 17 defeat at Kansas City…”

Brown could have been a victim of a poor blocking unit in 2014 or just a victim of bad luck. 2015 should be a deciding year for the former New Jersey native. If Brown shows his promise in 2015 through the passing game (his biggest asset), then I think he could get more reps when 2016 rolls around.

In terms of bold predictions, here is what I think could end up happening in 2015: Branden Oliver is going to get injured or cut somehow early on in the season, Melvin Gordon (the should-be starter) will miss some games due to injury, Danny Woodhead won’t be effective enough to start in Gordon’s place and Donald Brown could see some action.

Remember, this is the San Diego Chargers. Bolder things have happened.

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