As we await the upcoming NFL season, many questions surround the Oakland Raiders organization. How will Terrelle Pryor be in Week 1? Who will step up as the top WR? How will the defense fair with all of the new parts?
Those questions can obviously only be answered as the Raiders play on a weekly basis. One thing that can be answered is that the Raiders’ success will rely heavily on the injury-prone Darren McFadden.
Now many Raiders fans, and NFL fans for that matter, will undoubtedly agree that this statement is obvious. However, how will his ability and/or lack thereof affect a team that so desperately needs him to perform? It can affect the entire team tremendously, and it starts with his ability to stay healthy.
McFadden’s career numbers aren’t too shabby when you take an initial look. He’s toted the rock 769 times for a total of 3,334 yards, or 4.3 YPC. That isn’t such a bad number, especially considering he has two seasons where he has averaged 3.5 YPC or fewer.
The dismal number is the amount of attempts. In the last three seasons alone, Ray Rice has had 855 attempts. Steven Jackson has 847 attempts in that span, and Arian Foster has amassed 956 carries.
But now that we unnecessarily reiterated about McFadden’s injury status, we shall examine how exactly he will help the Raiders in various ways.
Offensively, McFadden will help the Raiders and their QBs in a variety of ways. For starters, he will take immediate pressure off Terrelle Pryor. With McFadden, Pryor won’t have to the full weight of the offense. McFadden will force defenses to be more honest, not allowing them to just pin their ears back and rush.
They will have to respect McFadden’s ability and play gap discipline and run-support football. Also, with a healthy McFadden, defenses will sometimes be weary to put eight guys in the box, allowing receivers less coverage to beat.
McFadden also opens up the door for a play-action pass game, which is one thing the Raiders have lacked 100 percent, especially with his absence last year.
Another reason McFadden will help the offense is that if the Raiders establish a running game, clock control will be key. They will be able to wear down opposing defenses and control the clock for extended periods of time. If that happens to be the case, that won’t help just the offense as a whole, but the defense as well.
Bringing McFadden into the game and being able to use him in a total capacity will obviously help the defensive unit as well. Last season, the Raiders were -7 in the turnover ratio, the majority of those turnovers being through the air due to their religious passing.
When you have a -7 turn over ratio, that means the defense is on the field for seven extra possessions than they should be on, meaning that they will ultimately tires out, no matter how many guys you rotate. Also, after looking at the 2012 statistics, you notice that the Raiders’ defense was on the field an average of more allotted time per game than the offense, which again leads to players to get gassed.
McFadden’s ability to rush allows the Raiders’ offense to control the clock and give their defense some much-needed breaks.
The Raiders are in need of a lot, but McFadden can certainly help. They will clearly need other guys to step up, but for now, Darren McFadden is the biggest piece to this puzzle.