After missing most of the 2014 season, running back Danny Woodhead has provided the Chargers’ offense and Philip Rivers with that safety valve it sorely missed last year.
Suffering a broken fibula against the Bills during Week 3 last season, the offense relied on undrafted rookie Branden Oliver, Donald Brown and former Charger Ryan Mathews to fill the void due to the absence of No. 39.
Oliver ended up leading the team in rushing in 2014 with 582 yards on 160 carries and three touchdowns on the ground, adding 27 receptions good for 271 yards and one scoring catch.
I am not going to get into the production, or lack thereof, of the other two backs; though Mathews is setting career-highs this season in multiple categories with the Eagles as a back-up ball carrier, but that’s none of my business. At least he is active on game days for his new team (cough, cough, Donald Brown).
Woodhead may not be lighting the world on fire as a ball carrier, totaling only 188 yards on 49 carries (two touchdowns), but he has made a significant impact in the passing game. His 11 receptions in Sunday’s loss to the Raiders was a team-high, as were his two receiving scores in the waning moments of the game while the team battled back to make the final score respectable.
It is the pass that he was NOT thrown that has received the most attention from the Green Bay game.
For the year through the air, Woody has registered 37 receptions (second on the team to Keenan Allen’s league-leading 62 catches) for 407 yards and two touchdowns, giving him four TDs in 2015, tying him with Ladarius Green for the team-lead in scores.
Many media members during the offseason wrote that the team was essentially signing a major free agent in getting Danny Woodhead back on the field. Members of the Chargers’ organization voiced the same sentiment, including the ball coach, Mike McCoy.
The short, yet NOT small, running back has made the most of his seven games back thus far through the 2015 campaign.
Can any of you reading this imagine what the team’s record would be without Woodhead on the field?
I prefer not to think about that.
With Melvin Gordon struggling, working through fumbling issues and ineffectiveness, along with his relegation to the bench, Woodhead will continue to make a favorable impact for the Chargers.
Fans may be tired of seeing him forced to run that inside-zone play out of shotgun, but the former Chadron State hero will have a lot to do with whether or not this team can turn around its season.
No pressure, Danny.
Quite frankly, it’s nice to see a Chargers’ player give it their all week in and week out, doing whatever he can regardless of the circumstances at hand.
We salute you, Danny Woodhead, and expect nothing less than greatness each and every week.