Darren McFadden had his best game as a pro this afternoon. He didn't put up the best fantasy numbers. He didn't snap off an eighty yard dash to the house. He didn't even score a touchdown! There's no way it was better than his second pro-game against Kansas City!
Oh contraire. Darren McFadden was touted as an “everydown back” coming out of college. He was the surest Running Back prospect in years. Fast and elusive with the hands of a receiver and (mostly) ideal build, McFadden was the first Tail-Back off the board in 2008. In a draft that produced the likes of Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice, and Jamall Charles, D-Mac has done nothing earn the high praise or draft status.
He's fallen considerably lower than all of his draft-day companions in just about every category associated with Running Backs. D-Mac was written off as another Reggie Bush; great for screens... and some other stuff, but not a feature back. D-Mac's label had already been stamped.
Until tonight. McFadden was fed the pigskin 30 times and ate up 145 yards with a 4.8 yards per carry average. Although it came against a young (but upcoming) Rams defense, anytime a Back can take the rock 30 times in a game is worth mentioning. What's impressive, though is that McFadden ran harder as the game progressed.
As captivating a performance as the one put on by “Bruuuuuuce Almight-ski” with his energetic play, it was done behind the awe-inspiring downhill running of McFadden. Not to take anything away from Gradkowski - he was fantastic in his ability to light a spark under the offense AND defense. He moved the ball, motivated his teamates, avoided the rush, showed great poise, and led the Oakland Raiders to victory.
Only. . .
“D-Mac” looked like “D-Mac Truck.” He ran with a passionate fury and made defenders earn their tackles. He lowered his shoulders, protected the football, and made the St. Louis defenders pay. No few Ram defenders will nurse bruises courtesy of McFadden. 30 touches left at least 60 bruises between 15-20 different Rams. St. Louis' defense just wasn't prepared for McFadden's powerful running (Yes, you read correctly; McFadden's powerful running – Never thought I'd say that).
Although he didn't haul-in a 4th Quarter, “walk-off” TD as time expired, he did win the game, just the same. His final 10 yard run put the nail in coffin. He made a beautiful cut, squared himself, and slashed off the “walk-off” First Down. A play he would have taken to the house, had he been able to yank his ankle free.
Last week he toted the ball 18 times for 95 yards. This week he had an even larger role. That's twice he's carried the workload, and twice he's preformed.
Two games is only two games, true. Yet, for Raider Nation, two impressive games by Darren McFadden, in a row, is something to cheer about. When all is said and done, there are still 14 games left and it has yet to be seen if McFadden can stay healthy for more than three or four at a time. He's put together a pair of good games. Although not much, two games in a row is one more than he's ever had on the road to consistency.
Tonight against the Rams will have given McFadden a huge confidence boost. Hopefully, that confidence will carry into next week, and hurdle him straight through the Cardinals Defense. Expect to see a healthy dose of “Run D-Mac Truck” next week in Arizona. If he can maintain the momentum he's gained from his previous two games, and Tom Cable continues to feed his success, Darren McFadden is poised to break out in 2010.
He'll need a clear mind and fresh legs if he's going to keep the offense on pace with the high-flying attack of the Houston Texans as Schaub looks to pass the 1000 yard passing mark in week three and really kick into gear week 4 vs. Oakland.
Still, when all is said and done, this afternoon, Darren McFadden was the hero. Quietly, he led the NFL in rushing yards for week 2 (Well, tied with A.P. For 145). Those “flashes” and “glimpses” of McFadden's “greatness” and “potential” may finally be coming to light. Only time will tell but this year, so far, he's looked darn good.
McClain's Pile Drive of poor Danny Amendola was as illegal as it was awesome.
Quentin Groves definitely deserves a “Hit Power” stat boost for Madden 11.
If we're going with Bruce as the Starting QB, Campbell should fetch at least a decent Left Tackle. . . no?
Bruce Gradkowski is going to be the next 7th Round QB gem (a la Tom Brady) despite being a little undersized (a la Drew Brees).
Yes, I sure did compare Gradkowski to Tom Brady AND Drew Brees. So What, say somethin'.