Who would have forecasted that Darren McFadden’s exit from Oakland would be met with yawns?
At the height of McFadden’s NFL career, he was the face of the downtrodden Oakland Raiders franchise. Not only was McFadden loved by the Raider Nation, but he was arguably a top three talent at running back. Unfortunately, injuries have ruined McFadden’s lofty potential and it looks like he will be looking for a new team this offseason. Even though McFadden showed he had the talent to live up to being the fourth pick in the 2008 NFL draft, he will go down as being another first round bust for the Raiders.
It’s hard to believe that McFadden only had one 1,000 yard rushing season in six years with the silver and black. I can still remember McFadden’s breathtaking games against the Denver Broncos and New York Jets, during Hue Jackson’s lone year as the Raiders’ head coach. In fact, McFadden was considered an MVP candidate in the first half of the 2011 season before he predictably suffered a season-ending injury. For the next two seasons, McFadden looked like a shell of himself.
During the 2012 season, many in the Raider Nation blamed McFadden’s woes on offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and his zone blocking scheme. McFadden wasn’t able to get to the second level and only averaged 3.3 yards per carry. Even though McFadden struggled in Knapp’s system, backup running back Mike Goodson averaged 6.3 yards per carry and fullback Marcel Reece averaged 4.5 yards per carry. The Raiders’ brass decided that Knapp’s zone blocking system was not the right fit for McFadden and the Raiders offense, so they decided to replace Knapp with power run specialist Greg Olson.
Last season, it became clear that McFadden was no longer the explosive player that he once was. The power run scheme did nothing to change McFadden’s career, as he averaged the exact same 3.3 yards a carry in Olson’s system. Once again, McFadden’s backup looked far better than he did as a running back. Some McFadden apologists have blamed McFadden’s woes on a porous offensive line, but that did not stop Rashad Jennings, Mike Goodson and Marcel Reece from looking good with the Raiders.
McFadden will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and it looks like he won’t be coming back to Oakland. Even though he will probably want to take a low-risk, one year deal to build up his value, he should not come back to the Raiders, because they both need fresh starts.
The Raiders will likely re-sign Jennings to pair with intriguing running back Latavius Murray for next season. In an ideal situation, the Raiders should also draft a running back like Tyler Gaffney in the middle rounds to compete for the starting job. Oakland native Maurice Jones-Drew is also a potential replacement for McFadden, but he probably doesn’t want to join a rebuilding team.
You can add McFadden’s name to the long list of first round busts that the Raiders have drafted over the past decade. Yes, McFadden had the talent to become an Oakland Raiders legend, but numbers never lie. There is just no way that you can accept only one 1,000 yard rushing season from your first round pick.
Goodbye, McFadden, we hardly knew you.