FanPost

Let's just be happy with Woodhead's contribution

 

Danny Woodhead is the "hands down" unexpected surprise for the Pats this season. There's not much to dislike about this kid. The biggest muscle in this dude's body is his heart and the spark he adds to this offense is contageous! Having acknowledged that, my goal is to address the fans (and even a few commentators) in their urging Pats to feature him as the go-to guy or at least expand his role in the offensive scheme. While the idea has "human interest story" written all over it, I have to ask.... Is there any chance we may be a little ahead of ourselves with his overall abilities?    Now, before I go any further, I recognize that I've already turned about half of Pats Pulpit off to anything I could say in the rest of this post. Questioning the value or skills of a guy who embodies what is meant by the term "underdog" is dangerous business..... Particularly if were're talking Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots..... I'm certain the natural affection for "the underdog" exists all over the world, but New England fans in particular seem to have a history of embracing scrappy little athletes that embody what it means to rise above the odds. Let's face it.... We all love the allure of anything that even slightly resembles a "Rudy" story. But... in spite of these very cool accolades, Danny Woodhead is a role player and the beneficiary of an offensive scheme that works perfectly for him, and the organization. Expanding his role too far beyond what it currently is could very well be a disasterous propostition.         Now, I'm not comparing Danny Woodhead to "Rudy" or any other athlete for all that matters. I'm just sharing my opinion that the kid's skills are a perfect fit for the Patriots and I believe Brady and Belichick are already maximizing what he brings to the table. I'd have a hard time believing the the Pats have any intention of expanding his role beyond what it currently is unless we're talking about giving him a few extra touches within the exact same existing scheme probably isn't even on the Pats radar screen and I'm personally thankful for that. HERE'S WHY:       The Patriots offense is built on it's ability to move the ball in the air. While most teams establish the run in hopes to open things up for the passing game..... I'd characterize the Pats offensive mindset is near polar opposite. This philosophy impacts every offensive player in ways the average fan doesn't routinely consider. Here's an example: As a former offensive lineman in college (many moon ago), I excelled at certain blocking techniques but failed miserably at others. When it came to snapping the ball and moving the nose tackle away from the line of scrimmage, I was among the best. On the other hand, The skills necessary for pass and trap blocking was a different story altogether. I was big and strong... but not real agile. So pushing the opposition around was a specialty and something I enjoyed. On the other hand, I totaly underestimated the amount of skills it took to protect the QB in pass protection. On running plays, I was responsible to initiate contact.... In pass protection, my responsibility was to stay between myself and the QB and wait for the defender to initiate contact. There's a BIG DIFFERENCE and I did the latter poorly. Although my little rant about "blocking schemes" may only have "indirect connections" to Woodhead, I personally believe it's the key to his success.        In recent weeks, I've heard some say... "The Patriots are starting to show they have the ability to run the ball effectively".... to which I would whole-heartedly agree. Both BJGE and Woodhead have tag-teamed to put up some reasonably good rushing numbers. However, from what I can see, Woodhead's ability to make contributions as a rusher depends significantly on the team's ability to "establish the pass". Wow... that didn't sound right, did it?.... Did I just mix up my words? Isn't that usually the other way around?       Woodhead gets his best rushing yardage when they hand him the ball while the big fat guys on both sides of the ball are moving toward him. In order to do that, the Pats must give the illusion they're going to pass.  "Draw plays" and "counters" seem to total 90% of Woodhead's rushing opportunities. Both are very risky because  your blocking calls for LETTING the defenders cross the line of scrimmage in a furious rush. So, when the back gets the handoff, numerous potential tacklers are already in the backfield! To make the play work, all as the runner has to do is slip through a crack in the first line of defense and then showcase his openfield running ability thereafter... BOTH of which Woodhead has been kicking ass at! The better Brady is at selling "pass" on a given play, the better Woodhead's chances are of getting positive yardage as a rusher.       The offensive scheme I have described is the main reason why Woodhead is as successful as he is. Believing he can be an every down back... particularly on ground and pound plays that feature straight ahead blocking and rushing wouldn't work. I'm convinced he'd get eaten up. My goal with this post is not to be negative what-so-ever.... It's just written to offer some perspective on a guy who is really making a difference in what he's asked to do!  

The views expressed in these FanPosts are not necessarily those of the writers or SBNation.

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