After a month and some change of prolonged rumors and negotiations both within and hidden from public view, Melvin Gordon has ended his holdout and will return to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday without a new deal.
The addition of a talent like Gordon comes at a good time for the Chargers, even if he won't play for at least a week while he gets back into game shape; Los Angeles currently sits at 1-2 after dropping two winnable games in a row. The only saving grace, for now, is that the Broncos are much worse than anyone anticipated and the Raiders are still the Raiders, so the path back to the wild card spot is that much easier. But while Gordon's addition certainly can't hurt, he alone won't reverse the trajectory of this season for the Chargers.
For all of the holes in their football team that have been exposed in the first three weeks of the season, Los Angeles hasn't lost games because of an inability to produce on offense. They're averaging over 400 yards per game and have scored at least 20 points in two of three games thus far. Gordon's replacement, Austin Ekeler, hasn't been statistically impressive running the ball with only 160 yards through three games, but he's averaged around four yards per carry and matched Gordon's production in the passing game with 19 catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns already.
Don't get it twisted: Gordon is definitely a better player than Ekeler, and his return will give the team a more dangerous offense given Gordon's explosiveness between the tackles. But the Chargers find themselves below .500 because of easily-fixable mistakes. Ekeler fumbled on the goal line in Detroit in Week 2 before Philip Rivers threw a pass, which can be generously defined as ill-advised, that was intercepted and effectively ended the game. Holding calls have offset big plays with shocking regularity. Despite the mistakes on that end of the field, the offense often manages to gain a decent lead before the defense gives it away.
Gordon will help this team, especially in their efforts to hold leads and drain the clock. But there's a lot more that needs to go right before the Chargers can even begin to dream of making another playoff run. Health, as always, is paramount, and they should get Russell Okung and Derwin James back before the midway point of the season. Michael Badgley will hopefully be back soon and prevent the punter from kicking field goals. But getting in their own way as far as penalties and turnovers go is something that has to be fixed internally. No one player will solve those issues. Gordon will be a boon, but Los Angeles has a long way to go.