Well, after we´ve analyzed some of the holes in the roster that are still not fixed yet (e.g. left tackle, strong safety), I decided to get free of that dark cloud by taking look at a brighter roster spot; and that appears to be the third-down back situation with Danny Woodhead.
It may sound weird, but Woodhead is the biggest name of the Chargers´ free agency moves this year. I´m not saying he is the one with the biggest contract – this is cornerback Derek Cox who signed a four-year contract worth $20 million, with 10.25 million guaranteed – but the former New England Patriot is well-known and is quite popular among fans round the league, and of course, especially among Pats fans.
And don´t expect to get to read numerous comparisons to the fan favorite Darren Sproles here; there may be some similarities in their skill sets and style of playing the position, but the former “Lightning Bug” clearly is the better player with the ball in his hands.
Woodhead won´t be used as every-down back. He will have his role in the third-down and two-minute offenses. The 28-year old runs hard and can catch passes out of the backfield, as his 40 catches for 446 yards and his three receiving touchdowns last season showed. But he also ran for 301 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, and has averaged 4.8 yards on 265 career carries so far. The small sized running back (5´8”) signed his two-year deal with the San Diego Chargers on March 15 – check out the contract details; I´m diggin´ those numbers: two years, $3.5 million ($1 million guaranteed); 2013 base salary: $750,000 (non-guaranteed); 2014 base salary: $1.75 million (non-guaranteed). This is what I call an A+ deal!
But there´s something about him I haven´t mentioned yet: his pass blocking skills. The NFL is a passing league, so picking up blitzes and helping out overmatched offensive tackles are running back skills that have become more and more important over the years. According to ProFootballFocus, Woodhead has allowed just two sacks in 156 snaps as a pass-blocker in his three seasons in New England – and zero in 2012! By comparison, Ryan Mathews has allowed five sacks over the past three seasons in just 89 attempts as a pass-blocker. I don´t wanna say that Mathews is horrible at pass protection but if he would have been able to demonstrate his ability to pick up blitzes more successfully, the Chargers wouldn’t have brought Ronnie Brown onto the field as often as they did in those situations last season.
Talking about skills that Ryan Mathews lack: With Woodhead we now got a speedster on the roster that never really had problems securing the ball. He fumbled only twice in his career and only lost one of those balls. Mathews has 12 fumbles in the same three-year period and has lost seven of them.
What if the Chargers´ first round pick in 2010 continues to struggle holding onto the ball or goes down with an injury again – could the former UDFA (in 2008) also be the guy to take on the bulk of carries for the Bolts? The answer to this question will be stuff for another article.
So, Bolt Family, I thought I share those #39 stats (and contract details) with you, because they made me feel a lot better when thinking about the upcoming season. Maybe those numbers will have the same effect on you.
Thank you for checking out these lines.