The San Diego Chargers may not have a healthy Stevie Johnson or their entire starting offensive line this Sunday afternoon against the Green Bay Packers, but they will have Danny Woodhead in the lineup and that might be more than enough.
If offensive coordinator Frank Reich can utilize Woodhead more in the gameplan, then the Chargers might have enough firepower to challenge the NFL’s top offense. The passing game becomes more dangerous and tougher to defend if Woodhead can effectively run the football out of the shotgun formation.
Philip Rivers relies heavily on throwing to his go-to receivers on obvious passing downs, as Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates are usually his primarily targets. Slowly, Woodhead has gained his trust and become a safety valve coming out of the backfield. This new component to the offense is very important to breaking momentum, especially if the opposing team’s defense believes they’re getting the upper hand in the contest.
When the Chargers signed him away from the New England Patriots via free agency in 2013, the consensus was the front office finally replaced Darren Sproles in the lineup. Rivers’ passing numbers suffered greatly without a legitimate pass-catching running back to throw to on third-and-long situations. Woodhead is best at exploiting certain pass defenses to his advantage.
His prowess for blocking in the pocket has limited the amount of touches he gets in the passing game. Injuries to the other playmakers might force the Chargers coaching staff to rely on him more to make plays, as they haven’t fully tapped his true potential just yet. Woodhead is more than ready to become a key element of the offense on Sunday.
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy understands that Woodhead is best at getting a defense out of their comfort zone. The offense relies on him to gain coverage mismatches against linebackers, especially when he comes out of the backfield on quick hitch passes. In this alignment, Woodhead has the knack to capture open space between defenders and turn it into a big yardage gain downfield.
With the receiving corp. dwindling in numbers, Woodhead might be the most dynamic playmaker in a Charger uniform this weekend, and that might be the best medicine to revive a floundering offense.