Danny Woodhead is a man who defies the odds. Some experts dub the NFL the “Not For Long” league due to the fact most players only play 3-4 years. Woodhead is entering his ninth season as an NFL running back, fourth with the Chargers, and had his best statistical season of his career last year. Woodhead shows no signs of slowing down in 2016. The pain from a broken fibula he suffered in a Week 3 contest with the Buffalo Bills in 2014 is, hopefully, nonexistent.
The pain he experienced from going undrafted back in 2008, however, may still be with him. All 32 teams passed on him at least seven times in the 2008 draft, but a telephone call from the Jets shortly after it ended gave him cause for hope. Woodhead spent the majority of his rookie season on the reserve-injured list and had limited success with the Jets in just over two seasons with the team. The odds of a 5-foot-8 running back having any success in a league of “big men” after a slow start like that was slim to none. I guess we shouldn’t tell the odds that he got a chance with the Patriots, played three solid seasons, and even caught a touchdown pass in a losing effort in Super Bowl 46.
Then in 2013, the rookie general manager of the San Diego Chargers, Tom Telesco, came calling. The Chargers’ new offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt, was installing a fast-paced, short-passing game that he and the Chargers thought Woodhead would be perfect for, and boy were they right. In 2013, Woodhead helped transform the Chargers’ offense into a methodical, clock- and yardage-chewing machine. In the running game, his size allowed him to momentarily disappear from would-be tacklers and power through the line for a positive gain. In the passing game, Woodhead was uncoverable for opposing linebackers, and too physical for opposing defensive backs, leaving him wide open on a majority of 3rd down plays. Rivers to Woodhead was a play all Charger fans fell in love with, and helped propel the Bolts to their first postseason win in years.
While the injury Danny suffered in 2014 wasn’t what any Charger fans wanted, Woodhead was able to come back even stronger in 2015. He posted his best statistical year to date according to Pro Football Reference, amassing just shy of 1,100 yards from scrimmage and nine total touchdowns, including a four-touchdown performance against the Miami Dolphins in week 15. I was at this emotional home game and Woodhead continued to be unstoppable and one of a few bright spots in a season when the Bolts went 4-12 and were ready to pack the moving vans.
Danny has had two great seasons with the Chargers, and is signed through 2016. He is arguably Tom Telesco’s best free-agent acquisition. He had more success running behind the same O-line as first-round draft pick Melvin Gordon. He is one of the best players in the NFL at picking up 3rd down conversions through the air. Ken Whisenhunt is back, and if the running game improves in the slightest, we might actually see some play-action passes that will be tossed Woodhead’s way. He may actually have a better season this year than last (I’m drafting him on my fantasy team!). If he does, I believe he has earned another two-year contract extension.
If he stays healthy, contributes like he did in 2015 and the Chargers extend his contract again, I believe we should start the conversation of him retiring as a Charger. He is a crowd favorite, Philip Rivers obviously trusts him, and he is a game changer in a running back corps that has been questionable at best the last few years. He has all the tools, experience and skill to continue to give this organization and fan base hope of reaching the playoffs. He has defied the odds, and the 2016 season hasn’t even started yet.
Let Danny know what you think in the comments sections below! Thanks for reading!