Melvin Gordon doesn't mince words when describing his rookie season.
"It was terrible. I was terrible."
From the team's dismal record to his own disappointing performance, Gordon's debut season was one he'd rather forget. He carried the ball 184 times for 641 yards, averaging 3.5 yards per carry without a touchdown before his season came to a close in Week 14 after sustaining a knee injury.
However, if you think it rattled his confidence or made it doubt himself, then you don't know Melvin Gordon.
If anything, the running back is more motivated than ever entering 2016.
"Oh, I have something to prove," he said emphatically. "In the NFL, I think every player has something to prove. You can never be complacent. Even if I had the greatest season of any rookie, I'd still be motivated. Unfortunately, my season didn't go the way I wanted it, so I'm extra motivated. I appreciate the fans for hanging with me through the hard times. I appreciate you. And the fans that didn't, I appreciate them too. I'll change minds, and success will definitely feel sweeter after (the last year) I had."
Gordon's confidence in himself remains high. If anything, battling through adversity as a team and as a player has made him more adaptable and eager to prove his worth.
"I have the same confidence I ever had because of work habits, and I'm building new confidence because I know more now. You build confidence throughout the year. From training camp and through the season. I have a year in my back pocket now, so if anything I'm more confident. Pretty much everything went wrong last year that could. We got the injury bug last year, man. If our offense stayed healthy, it would change all of our games. We lost our best receiver in Keenen (Allen), (Antonio) Gates missed some games and our offensive line got banged up throughout the year, too. That makes it hard for everyone. We played through it and stuck together, and that counts for something. But it is hard when you aren't yourself out there."
Exactly one year ago, draft pundits were raving about the Wisconsin product with a unique combination of size, vision and ability to cut on a dime. While he didn't showcase his abilities to the fullest as a rookie, Gordon is eager to put his full arsenal on display in 2016.
"You can't dwell on last year. It's a new season and you have to get past it. But there are things I didn't know as a rookie that I know now. There are things that you can only learn from playing the game. I understand the game better now. I wish I knew last year what guys who have been in the league for four or five years know. I have a better understanding now, and that will grow. Rookie years are different for a lot of people. Some have more success than others, so I am just trying to go out there, work and prove myself more this year."
Gordon knows the first step on his road to proving himself comes with being diligent in his rehab.
"I feel really good," he said. "I've been rehabbing hard ever since I got hurt. An injury in professional football is a very serious matter, so you've got to go about it correctly. I feel like I have. I've really been attacking it and grinding as best as I can."
In addition to having a full season under his belt, Gordon says being able to train in the offseason is a major advantage. He knows the system. He knows his teammates. Perhaps most importantly, he's on hand for day one of the offseason program instead of being dropped into it with a crash course following a whirlwind draft process.
"It definitely helps knowing the system and being more comfortable. We have a new offensive coordinator, but the system will mainly stay the same. It is good to know where you're living and know where your home is at. You don't have to start over with relationships having to meet new coaches and players. You have good relationships with your teammates, so it is a lot easier."