While Philip Rivers is getting back to being his old self, the San Diego Chargers are still searching for a running game to materialize. Patience hasn’t helped bring out the potential in Ryan Mathews, but there’s another route they could take to get a ground attack going.
Danny Woodhead, acquired this offseason to add a spark to the offense, offers the electricity to be the threat at running back the Chargers have been desperately looking for. When used the right way, the versatile 5’8’’, 195-pounder has the ability to a dynamic difference-maker.
So far this season, Woodhead has carried the ball 14 times for 58 yards (4.1 per carry) while forcing two missed tackles. In comparison, Mathews has 45 carries for 164 yards (3.6 per carry) while forcing four missed tackles and fumbling once. According to Pro Football Focus, Mathews has earned a -0.4 overall grade while Woodhead currently sits at 3.9. If the numbers tell us anything, it’s that Woodhead does more with the opportunities he’s given.
Woodhead is much more than just a runner, though – his biggest impact comes as a receiver.
Through three games, Woodhead has hauled in 17 of his 20 targets for 112 yards (6.6 per reception) while picking up 87 of those yards after the catch. He’s also forced five missed tackles as a receiver, but dropped one pass and coughed up the football once. The former New England Patriots’ Swiss army knife has been one of Rivers’ go-to targets in 2013 and has disproven the belief that he can’t carry the ball up the middle (six carries for 27 yards between the guards).
It’s obvious that, given his size and lack of strength, Woodhead isn’t a workhorse back who can carry the load. The Chargers could, however, do a better job splitting the load between him and Mathews. Woodhead has proven to be more efficient with his touches than Mathews this season, and is a weapon that San Diego must utilize more often.
The Chargers have a unique weapon in Woodhead. It’s time to take him out of the holster and let him do damage.