The hits just keep on coming for the San Diego Chargers and not in a good way. In the first two weeks of the 2016 NFL season, the Chargers have lost wide receiver Keenan Allen and now running back Danny Woodhead for the season with torn ACLs.
Losing Allen was a crucial loss for the Bolts and now the loss of Woodhead is even more troubling. Allen’s injury was a non-contact injury that ended his season. Woodhead didn’t make it out of the first quarter when he caught a pass, was tackled and then carted off the field.
No team wants to lose two key offensive playmakers, especially two weeks into a season, but that is what the Chargers are facing. Allen was emerging as one of the better wide receivers in the game, while Woodhead is a dual-threat back who can make plays and act as a safety net for quarterback Philip Rivers.
In the little time Woodhead actually got to see the field before his injury, he rushed 19 times for 116 yards while catching six passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. That might not seem like much, but last season, Woodhead caught 80 passes for 755 yards and six touchdowns. He also rushed for 336 yards and three scores. Those receiving numbers are similar to those of wide receivers. It’s not going to be easy for the Chargers to replace a player like Woodhead, who is such a unique and dynamic player out of the backfield.
Now, the attention turns even more so to running back Melvin Gordon. When the Chargers drafted Gordon 15th overall last season, they had hoped to get their feature back of the season. In his rookie campaign, Gordon rushed for 841 yards. That isn’t bad for a rookie by any means, but he was held out of the end zone.
The scoring drought of Gordon ended in Week 1 this season and continued into Week 2. Last week, Gordon got into the end zone for the first time in his young career to help bolster the Chargers lead over the Chiefs, which would eventually be blown. This week, he found the end zone twice to help the Bolts rout the Jacksonville Jaguars 38-14.
Gordon has rushed 38 times in 2016 for 159 yards and the three touchdowns. With the absence of Woodhead, his production will have to go up and it should, as he will be the beneficiary of more touches. While he’s not the receiver that Woodhead was, he is more than capable of making an impact in that capacity.
San Diego doesn’t have any running backs on the depth chart that have been pass-catching backs. The two running backs on the depth chart are undrafted free agent Kenneth Farrow and former New York Giants running back Andre Williams. Both of those players will now get an opportunity to get some touches, but they won’t be able to duplicate what Woodhead was able to do over the last three years for San Diego.
Injuries can and will occur at any given moment, leaving teams to find a way to adjust. For the Chargers, they need to dig deep and adjust after losing two huge playmakers for the season.