If Mathews Continues to be Mathews…
By Jonah Lee
Dec 16, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead (39) runs the ball against San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald (91) during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the New England Patriots 41-34. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Last season the San Diego Chargers running back stable consisted of Ryan Mathews, Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle and Curtis Brinkley while Le’Ron McClain would hold down the fullback position. The coaching staff also held Ryan Mathews in high regard believing that his third year would be a monster break out season. Well, he broke something alright! What they didn’t anticipate was Mathews getting injured and left it up to the rest of the unproven or well past their prime players to fill in the role. Come on now, even when we had Ladainian Tomlinson we still had Michael Turner and Darren Sproles backing him up. We had an option regardless of how great our primary back was. Nevertheless, they didn’t prepare for the evitable and the Chargers suffered, they would only have three out of sixteen games with a rushing touchdown, one by Matthews and three by Battle.
The numbers in 2012, not including receiving yards look like this:
Every running back with the exception of Ronnie Brown would average less than 4 yards per attempt. That’s not sexy nor does it display a balance in offense to scare opposing defenses. New head coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco knew this and went out to find someone to change the pace of the game.
Enter Danny Woodhead. Many analysts are expecting a big year for Danny Woodhead and if Mathews can’t fulfill his duties for unexpected reasons we have insurance. Woodhead might not be the only reason to look forward to the running back committee, the Chargers also found a near replica of Woodhead in undrafted rookie Michael Hill. Hill rushed for 2,168 yards on 311 carries for Missouri Western, a division II school similar to Danny Woodhead’s alum. Hill’s average in his final year is an impressive 7.0 yards per carry including 16 touchdowns to go with his accomplishments. If Hill can impress during training camp, that could spell trouble for Ronnie Brown who is expected to lockdown the third running back spot.
Just to add some perspective to what Danny Woodhead can offer, below are his college rushing numbers for his final two years 2006 and 2007, as well as his three years in New England.Danny Woodhead
New England Patriots 2010
Woodhead rushed just as hard as Hill did in college. Not to mention, as a Patriot his receiving yards total is just as much as his rushing yardage. A Chargers team average of 3.7 yards per attempt is nothing to goat about, this year we need the running backs to crash through the line and balance the ground game to take away the predictability the Chargers opponents have grown accustomed to. Rush, rush, fall short of a first down and pass on third. Watch for what these guys will do during training camp and beyond and making this team a championship contender again.