When Danny Woodhead joined the Chargers in 2013, there was a lot of excitement in San Diego. When it came to free agent acquisitions, Philip Rivers made it known that he was “most excited about” the scrappy running back. Woodhead ended that season with a career year and looked to have an even better tenure in 2014. Unfortunately, last year’s plans changed and he was placed on injured reserve immediately after week three. With lead Ryan Mathews already sidelined due to injury, the team’s run game immediately seemed lackluster. If we are to examine the keys to success in 2015, a healthy Woodhead is where to begin.
It’s no secret that coordinator Frank Reich and the offense needs a crafty hybrid type of running back like Woodhead on the roster. Not only can he run the football, he also processes the capability to become a slotback in certain offensive formations.
If you don’t know already, a slotback is used to run the ball and also play receiver. They are utilized for quick short passes or handoffs because of their special skillset and distinct ability to convert on a third-and-short. What Woodhead adds to the Chargers offense is the talent to gain small yardage which allows for essential down conversions. In turn, the drive stays alive and grants the opportunity to put points on the board and manage the time clock.
The 2015 season couldn’t be any more important to have a healthy No. 39 back on the field. Last year, Rivers and company were forced to throw more often than in previous years due to the injury ridden backfield. In 2014, the team threw 60.56% of offensive snaps which was a higher number than in 2013 at 53.34%. Additionally, conversions took a nose dive and the Bolts converted a lousy 5 of 11 in 4th down situations. Keep in mind, in 2013 they were just shy of perfect at 5 of 6 converted on 4th downs. The numbers don’t lie and Woodhead’s ability to gain short yards and convert in critical situations will leverage the Chargers this upcoming season.
It’s inevitable that San Diego’s running back crew needs to improve from last year in order to become successful this season; starting with Danny Woodhead. Unfortunately, Frank Reich only had one offseason and a few games with the tailback. Don’t be surprised if Reich is most anxious to get him back in the offensive mix. Last year’s schedule was difficult, but this year looks to be even tougher. Having Woodhead back on the field will be the keys for success in 2015 and allow for another crack at the postseason.