Danny Woodhead (Kevin Faulk 2.0): Created in a lab by Bill Belichick?
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Woodhead so Kevin Faulk it is! Photo by Jack Newton
“I’m pretty sure Belichick created Woodhead in a lab.” I received this text message from my brother after Patriots running back/magician Danny Woodhead ripped off an awe-inspiring 36 yard touchdown run yesterday against the Colts. My bro makes an interesting point. Woodhead is the ideal Belichickian football player. He does everything. He can run, catch, block, and tackle (Woodhead rocketed down the field to upend the Colts return man on the kickoff after his touchdown). He makes something out of nothing. He has the quality of lacking traditional NFL prerequisites, which allowed him to fly under the radar like a couple of Belichick’s other sleeper hits Tom Brady and Wes Welker. So, maybe Belichick did create this guy in a lab. Kevin Faulk 2.0. Only problem is that Woodhead was on the Jets originally and cut by Rex Ryan and co. in week 1. Amazingly, we might never have seen Woodhead on the Pats active roster if not for Kevin Faulk’s season-ending knee injury suffered in Week 2 against the Jets.
I’ve had a sneaking suspicion from the first day Woodhead played for the Patriots that he could become my favorite player of all time. What is so likable and exciting about this guy? It has something to do with his ability to make every play on a professional football field despite being half the size of his colleagues. He’s tenacious. He finds five yards when most guys couldn’t get three, and he rips off 30+ yard runs that evoke thoughts of Barry Sanders. He’s a pint-sized beast, a badger, an acrobat. I’m gushing over this guy and I don’t care. At the urging of my Drunken Sportsmen podcast co-host, Drew, I semi-declared that Woodhead will/could have a 200 yard (total offense) game at some point. How’s that for equivocation?
When Brady first started making plays for the Patriots back in 2000, there was a similar feeling. Brady seemed to make things happen primarily through sheer determination. The Woodhead story is even more amazing though since his resume is so lacking of anything resembling NFL pedigree. He played college football for Chadron State in Nebraska – a Division II program. He’s 5’7″. He was undrafted. His eye-popping college statistics are likely the primary reason the NFL did not completely ignore the tiny running back. Woodhead set NCAA records for single season and all-time rushing yards, and was twice named the best player in Division II college football. As a junior in 2006, Woodhead rushed for 2,740 yards in the regular season. Woodhead’s 9,259 all-purpose yards ranks him 2nd all-time, just a couple hundred yards behind Brian Westbrook of Villanova. Incredible stuff.
Unfortunately, Woodhead was created in North Platte, Nebraska and not Belichick’s lab. At least that’s what Wikipedia tells me. Wouldn’t put it past Belichick to have them in on his master plan as well. As for Woodhead’s NFL future, expect big things. If he stays healthy and doesn’t get Flutie’d out of the league, Woodhead will do great things. Here’s a couple predictions for you that will make you think my man crush has driven me mad: He will crack 1,500 total yards in a season (eventually) and make the Pro Bowl. He will draw comparisons to Barry Sanders. He will sign a multi-year deal with the Pats. These aren’t just my predicitions but my hopes because I really want to sport a jersey that says Woodhead on the back. All those people that bought Maroney jerseys can just get the name changed and save a few bucks. At least until the Patriots get wise to this and force him to change his number.
These are exciting times. The Patriots have a new star – once again seemingly from out of nowhere (BenJarvus Green-Ellis bears mention here as well, but we’ll cover his unexpected success in a separate article). There are many more big plays to come from this little guy. I can’t wait to watch them all.
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