Oakland Raiders: 5 Reasons Darren McFadden Will Be the 2012 NFL MVP
In a quarterback-friendly league, it would seem nearly impossible for a running back to win NFL MVP honors.
Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees lead the way—you can probably even throw Matt Stafford into that mix. These stars are elite, and many are first ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
And I haven't forgotten Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew, Adrian Peterson and a multitude of other talented running backs, either.
Get ready. With a little luck (in terms of an injury-free season), Darren McFadden will make a strong case for earning MVP honors.
Here are five reasons he can achieve the NFL's most prestigious player award.
Improved Offensive Line
Stefen Wisniewski, whose uncle is the offensive line coach for the Raiders and was an eight-time Pro Bowl guard for Oakland, added much needed improvement to Oakland's linemen.
Wisniewski won Rookie of the Week honors in 2011. Not too bad for an offensive lineman considering other 2011 Rookie of the Year winners include Cam Newton, Aldon Smith and Denarius Moore.
Former Texan Mike Brisiel should add a solid presence on the right side and draft pick Tony Bergstrom may compete for a starting job, too.
McFadden managed to average over five yards a carry in 2011, and a hard-nosed offensive line will help open up holes for him. The Raiders may not have an exceptional line, but McFadden only needs decent big guys blocking for him.
Deep Threat WRs Force Opposing Defenses to Respect Pass
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore lead the fastest wide receiving core in the NFL.
Opposing defenses cannot focus solely on McFadden and consistently leave eight men in the box without sacrificing ample opportunities for DHB & Co. to catch deep balls.
So, a full off-season with strong armed QB Carson Palmer will stretch the field. Add Juron Criner, David Ausberry and Marcel Reece to the mix, and Oakland will have a well-rounded passing game.
Who will benefit tremendously from these improvements?
Darren McFadden, of course.
He Will Lead the League in Rushing
You may think this is unreasonable, but Darren McFadden was leading the league in rushing for a solid portion of the 2011 season before succumbing to injury.
He averaged 5.2 YPC in 2010 and 5.4 in 2011. Moreover, in those two years he played 20 games and scored 11 touchdowns.
Like mentioned in the previous slide, a well-rounded offense will open up opportunities for this running back (who has the body of a linebacker). He will be ready for 2012 as hungry as ever.
He could easily go for 1700-plus yards and 12-15 TDs.
He Can Catch Passes out of the Backfield and Is a Viable Slot WR
In 2010, McFadden accumulated 47 receptions for over 500 receiving yards and scored three TDs.
Although he had limited opportunities in 2011, McFadden still averages over 10 yards per catch for his career. Yes, you read that correctly. This running back averages a solid first down per catch.
So not only is McFadden an incredible runner, but he also is a dangerous threat out of the backfield as well as the slot. He does everything you could possibly ask of a running back—including throwing occasional passes.
Who knows? Maybe he'll hit the trifecta in 2012 (throw, run and catch a touchdown).
The Raiders Will Make the Playoffs
The Raiders look like they finally have a playoff-worthy team.
Part of earning the Most Valuable Player of the year award is improving your team. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, et al. have teams that have made deep runs in the playoffs.
Oakland hasn't made the playoffs since their 2002 Super Bowl run. Darren McFadden is a constant home run threat that is ready to lead the way to the postseason.
Look for McFadden to put together an incredibly impressive season statistically and an unquantifiable value by carrying a significant load of the Raiders offensive success.
This will impress sportswriters in a way that few other MVP candidates can do.
It may seem like a long shot now, but once Darren McFadden hits the ground running you will see how the Raiders running back will be around the top of the MVP discussion.