The San Diego acquisition of Danny Woodhead during the offseason was one of the more quiet moves around the league. With big name receivers trading jerseys and famous defenders finding new homes, few payed any attention to an undersized role-playing running back and his whereabouts.
Nonetheless, it looks like Woodhead could have some serious impact with the Chargers. It’s no secret that they haven’t been the same over the past few seasons. Many attribute that to the loss of LaDainian Tomlinson and lack of depth at wide receiver.
While those things did hurt, I believe losing Darren Sproles a couple of years ago made the Charger offense much less dynamic. Ryan Mathews was called on to be an every down workhorse and I’m just not sure that’s something he can do.
Woodhead gives the Chargers back that “scatback” element that Sproles brought. He has the ability to turn a 3rd-and-short draw played into a 20 yard gain in the blink of an eye and is also an effective pass catcher out of the backfield.
I don’t think that’s all he’ll be used for. Even though he played Division II ball in college, he was the feature back at Chadron State, racking up yards between the tackles like a traditional three down back would. He has that ability and is built bigger than many think, which tells me he could even find himself stealing carries that would have gone to Mathews in the past. With Mathews failing to reach four yards a carry in 2012, I don’t think for one minute that the Chargers are confident in his abilities.
Back to the Sproles comparison, Woodhead was actually more effective in New England over a three year span than Sproles was in five with the Chargers. Woodhead averaged 4.8 yards per carry, while Sproles averaged just over 4.6. Sproles caught 29 passes a year with San Diego, while Woodhead averaged just over 30 with New England.
Everything I hear and read out of San Diego tells me new Charger head coach Mike McCoy loves Woodhead’s versatility and plans on using him in a variety of packages. Perhaps most important, Woodhead has a good grasp of the no-huddle offense because of his time in New England. McCoy will likely run no-huddle much more than Norv Turner ever did.
Charger fans and fantasy owners will no doubt want to keep an eye on news coming out of San Diego over the next couple of months. We’ll have a better idea of exactly what Woodhead’s role will be once the preseason gets underway, but as of now, it’s looking like he’ll play a key role in McCoy’s offense.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON JUNE 21, 2013