It’s been 19 consecutive games since the San Diego Chargers had a 100-yard rusher. That kind of streak really seems impossible given the club’s knack for running the pigskin over the course of history, but the Bolts have been a pass-happy club over the past few years under the direction of Norval.
Even though Turner’s play-calling was horrendous at times and flat-out unbearable at others, the fact that Ryan Mathews has been so inept led the team to make a bold move of its own this offseason by signing a new ball carrier to compete with the former first rounder.
Norv is gone and so is A.J. The new guys in charge want to revitalize the San Diego rushing attack, and their free agent addition of Danny Woodhead certainly underscores that commitment.
Head coach Mike McCoy’s offense with the Denver Broncos was run-heavy with Tim Tebow at quarterback and adjusted to the arrival of Peyton Manning by integrating more passing. Now I know Philip Rivers is far more Manning than he will ever be Tebow, but the Bolts could use a run-based attack to open up more play-action passes as well as take some pass rush pressure off of Rivers.
In a roundabout way, all of this to say that Woodhead, not Mathews, is the man to help the Bolts achieve this.
Now the highest rushing totals that Woodhead has ever attained in the NFL came in his first season with the New England Patriots when he carried the ball 97 times for 547 yards (5.6 yards per carry (YPC)). Last season was his least productive on the ground with only 301 yards at just a 4.0 YPC clip, but it was also his most productive as a receiver with 40 catches for 446 yards. 2012 was also the first year that New England relied on one consistent ball carrier in Stevan Ridley for the majority of its rushing workload.
Given the injury-prone nature of Mathews combined with Woodhead’s ability to be a three-down back, the Bolts would be wise to use him as their primary workhorse in 2013. Now I know that 97 carries as the most in a single season for his career is a really low number, but that’s just because the Patriots used a running back by committee and had a pass-happy attack for the most part. Woodhead is more than capable of handling a ton of carries as his collegiate career at Chadron State illustrates (1,135 attempts, 7,962 yards, 6.9 YPC, 183.0 YPG, 101 TD).
Worst case scenario for Woodhead in 2013 is a timeshare in the San Diego backfield, but even that will likely result in him dominating the rushing statistics given his substantial 4.8 career YPC compared to Mathews’ steadily declining 4.4 YPC number. There’s no doubt that the former Patriot will lead the Bolts in rushing in 2013; you can take that to the bank.