Doug Pederson said this week he’s so concerned about Ryan Mathews’ late-game fumbling problem that he’ll consider using a different running back in crucial late-game situations (see story).
If Mathews is concerned about it, he’s not letting on.
“I don’t worry about stuff like that,” he said at his locker on Thursday. “Worrying about stuff like that just causes more stress.
“I can’t control any of that. The only thing I can control is trying to give him 100 percent every time I touch the ball and trying to get better.”
Mathews likely cost the Eagles a win over the Lions with his late fumble in Detroit three weeks ago. Last week, he lost another fumble in the final minutes of the Eagles’ win over the Vikings.
He’s the first back with two fumbles in the final five minutes of two games in the same season since Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants in 2010.
He has single-handedly accounted for two of the three fumbles by NFL running backs in the last five minutes of games this year.
Pederson on Wednesday said, “By no means am I down on Ryan,” but also said he would consider using Wendell Smallwood or Darren Sproles in late-game situations moving forward.
Mathews is averaging 3.9 yards per carry on a team-high 11 carries per game.
He said Thursday he has to learn not to fight for extra yards when the situation calls mainly for ball protection.
“You can’t fight for more yards, you’ve just got to go down,” he said. “Don’t put the ball on the ground.
“There’s no secret cure or anything like that. You’ve just got to get what you can get and get down. You can’t really fight for more yards like that.”
Mathews said it’s difficult for him to ramp down his natural aggressiveness in situations that call for him to be more conservative and protect the ball instead of trying to fight for extra yards.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I’m not the one to really shy away from not going down on first contact. But situations like that, you’ve just got to be more aware.”
Sproles (4.6 average on 31 carries), Smallwood (4.1 average on 28 carries) and Kenjon Barner (5.8 average on 16 carries) all have higher rushing averages than Mathews.
Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said he’s not concerned about Mathews and said his confidence in the 29-year-old former Pro Bowler hasn’t waned.
“I love our guys,” Reich said. “I wouldn't trade our guys for anybody. We use a word around here a lot, and I know sometimes it gets thrown around, but it's family.
“You know, not every family's perfect, and we all make mistakes, but when we put guys out on the field (we’re confident in them). I can't play like that. I can't coach like that. You've got to have confidence.
“Now with coaches, it’s a business and coaches make decisions based on things. And when those decisions get made, they get made. But when a guy is in the game, we have to play with confidence and we have to coach with confidence and I don't see any other way to do it.”