I literally punched my computer when I saw the news that the San Diego Chargers signed New England Patriots fan favorite running back Danny Woodhead to a two-year deal, per a tweet from Mike Reiss. Woodhead said he wanted to stay with the Patriots, and the Pats reportedly wanted to keep him as well. He was expected to stay in New England, and we never even heard about another team potentially showing interest in Woodhead.
That’s what makes losing Woodhead so shocking, but I must say that he does fit the Chargers quiet well. The Chargers could really use a running back with the dual-threat ability that Woodhead possesses behind Ryan Mathews, and Woodhead has the uncanny ability to make huge plays on third-downs both with his hands and his legs. Woodhead has extremely high EPA, WPA, third down, and clutch metric numbers that all strengthen his case for being an extremely, well, “clutch” running back.
Woodhead will be sorely missed in New England, and I still can’t believe Woodhead won’t be playing for us. It’s not a huge loss strategically, but it is a huge loss emotionally for soft people like me who grow strong affinities for certain players.
Last season, the 28-year-old Chadron State (where?) had seven total touchdowns, ran for 301 yards, and caught an impressive 40 passes for 446 yards. A running back with a career average of 4.8 yards per carry, Woodhead always seems to come up with the important play and is locked in as the Chargers third-down back. Mathews has almost never been used on third downs in his career, and I bet there is a method to the Chargers madness. They won’t- and shouldn’t- buck this trend with Woodhead in San Diego.
He is clearly an upgrade over Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle as the backup to Mathews, and it will be interesting to see how much money Woodhead received and how he can increase his stock as a great backup running back in this league. I wish Woodhead the best, and we can always have Shane Vereen to make the explosive plays as a receiver out of the backfield. The elusive soon-to-be third-year RB has great agility and speed, so he definitely mitigates the loss of Woodhead after showing a lot of potential in the second half of the 2012 season.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.