CARSON — Melvin Gordon sat back into his locker, his head resting in his hands. Inside the team’s cramped locker room, there was nowhere for the Chargers star running back to hide his frustration.
Not much was different on the field. All afternoon long, Gordon was rendered helpless in a backfield under siege. On most of his carries, Gordon just had to scrounge his way back to the line of scrimmage.
In all, he toted the ball just 10 times — two of which were good for 10-plus yards. On his other eight carries, Gordon combined to lose one yard, leaving him with a measly 22 when the Chargers’ 26-24 defeat was final.
And with the team trailing late, Gordon was essentially sidelined. For the final 24 minutes and 39 seconds, he didn’t touch the ball a single time.
So as he sat in his locker, Gordon seethed — about the Chargers’ winless start, about his lack of touches. He asked for a moment to cool off.
When he finally spoke to reporters, his frustration had boiled off. All that remained was disappointment.
“I feel like I’m helpless out there,” Gordon said. “I hate that I feel like that. I just feel like I can’t help my teammates out there, and it hurts.”
Throughout the season’s first month, first-year Chargers coach Anthony Lynn has talked at length about jumpstarting the run game. So far, that’s been all talk.
“We are not there yet,” Lynn said of the run game.
For a former running backs coach, the lack of an effective run game is especially troubling. Over four games, Gordon is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry — worse than his per-carry total from his disappointing rookie season. As a whole, the Chargers offense has managed just 67.5 yards per game on the ground, which ranks among the worst in the NFL. Only the Giants and Cardinals have been worse on a per-carry basis, and neither has a healthy, Pro Bowl-caliber back at their disposal like Gordon.
A knee injury left Gordon limited in the week leading up to Sunday’s defeat. But while some speculated that the injury might be to blame for Gordon’s ineffectiveness, the Chargers back quickly quashed that excuse.
“If I’m not healthy, I wouldn’t be out here,” Gordon said. “I’m completely fine. I don’t know what was going on today.”
Sooner or later, the Chargers will need to iron out those issues on the ground. In Buffalo, Lynn was the architect of the league’s best rushing attacks. Led by LeSean McCoy, the Bills averaged 164 rushing yards per game in…