Oakland Raiders Now Have the Best Backfield in the NFL
At the half way mark of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs have the league #1 ranked rushing attack. However, I believe the Raiders have the best tandem at running back in the NFL.
The Raider defense stopping the Chief's tandem of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles could help the Raiders move up one spot to lead the league in rushing.
But let's not focus so much on stats.
Jamaal Charles gets his yards after Thomas Jones wears the defense down. Charles is clearly not the kind of guy that can carry the load himself.
Ahmad Bradshaw looks to be able to carry the load for the Giants but Brandon Jacobs is no longer that guy. LaDainian Thomlinson looks like himself again for the Jets but Shonn Green doesn't appear ready for the bull's eye on his back yet.
The Raiders came in on another boat.
Both of their guys can carry the load themselves.
Bush does have a 100-yard game in McFadden's stead.
They've been in the league a few years and not done much so where did these guys come from?
Turn the page to see.
Exit Justin Fargas
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Bush and McFadden are actually a tandem now because Justin Fargas is now gone. Fargas was once known as the heart and soul of the team but the team had very little heart and soul.
It had very little talent too.
That's why these two were drafted in the first place.
I mean no offense to Fargas fans but he was taking carries away from our talented duo. It's easy to see Fargas is short on talent as he can't even stay on another team that has injuries at the position.
Yet he had the most carries of all the Raider backs last year.
Bush and McFadden now have more of carries to split.
The Quarterback Position
Jamarcus Russell in no longer in the building.
Opposing defenses will no longer stay in eight or nine man fronts to dare the quarterback to beat them. The Jason Campbell isn't John Elway but can beat a eight or nine man front down the field.
The defense now has to cover the whole field.
This years quarterbacks are good enough to keep you out of constant nine man fronts. But also not good enough to go out there and chuck it around the field all day long.
That gives the Raiders a chance to ground and pound.
I have to give the Oakland Raider offensive line credit for one thing.
They can run block.
The pass blocking may have improved a bit but even that is because of the run blocking. The play action the Raiders can run off of it these days is due in large part to the offensive line openning up holes.
McFadden is the 7th leading rusher in the NFL while he and Bush are tied for 5th in touchdowns.
Running will not be this team's problem.
Louis Murphy has established himself as a big time deep threat. That is another part of why opposing defenses can't just load the the box when playing the the Raiders.
Darrius Heyward-Bey and his 4.2 wheels will also take that eighth or ninth man out of the box. Murphy and Heyward-Bey will force most opposing defenses to play cover two against them.
Just wait until Chaz Schilens comes back.
That's what the doctor ordered for running the ball.
The Raiders have been committed to the running game so both McFadden and Bush will get theirs. The Raiders have averaged 34.4 running plays per game up to the half way mark of the season.
The Raiders have options of how to keep the running game going. They can stay with McFadden as the carrying most of the load or they can start to use Bush more to keep McFadden from wearing out.
Either way, the Raiders are going to run.
McFadden has vastly improved over this off season.
The fact that McFadden now runs with a lower center of gravity is the main reason for his improvement. It gives him the ability to change directions at full speed in order to make people miss.
It also allows him to break arm tackles and drive for extra yardage when piled on. The best thing it's done is keep him healthy and on the field.
And have you seen the way he's been picking up the blitz?
That's just another thing he's improved on.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Bush never had a problem breaking arm tackles like McFadden had but needed to use his size. In the preseason, he started to use his 245 pound frame to punish the defense.
That's what wears the defense down and makes defenders little reluctant to come up and make the stop. Bush's improvement will make things better for himself and his running mate.
They now have a true contrast of styles.
What Darren McFadden Brings
McFadden is a home run threat with 4.27 wheels to get him around the corner. He can also hit you in the passing game with screens, underneath routes, and deep routes.
But don't think that he won't hit it up inside and push the pile on you. Pushing the pile is something McFadden has just started this year but it's the explosion that makes him special.
Unfortunately, the opposing defenses know it and run a cover two with their safeties way back. Those safeties are mainly way back out of fear of the Raider's track team of receivers.
McFadden has had runs of 15 yards this season where the safeties have to come up and make the play. But he has still managed to rank tied for 2nd in runs over 20 yards and tied for 1st in run over 40 yards.
So it hasn't worked that well.
What Michael Bush Brings
Having Michael Bush back has helped the Raiders tremendously in the red zone. Third or fourth and and goal is now much less of a problem.
But Bush will surprise you and get around the corner on you.
He can also take it the distance himself.
Bush isn't much of a deep threat in the passing game but is a good receiver out of the backfield. He is also a willing and able protector of the quarterback against the blitz.
Another complete back.
These are two backs with big time ability and are under circumstances to succeed. There are no weaknesses between these two backs but there are some things that one does better than the other.
The Raider offense can pretty much do what they wish with either of them in there. This will make it much less obvious to the opposing defense what the Raiders plan to do on a given play.
Add to that the fact that they have a fullback that blocks for them and remains a deep threat. While the Kansas City Chiefs lead the league in rushing, the running back position requires more than that.
Thomas Jones and fullback Tim Castille are the only Chiefs that can pick up the blitz. McFadden Bush and Reece pick up the blitz well plus they have a huge edge in receiving yards.
McFadden, Bush, and Reece: 496
Jones, Charles, and fullback Tim Castille: 235
Dexter McCluster is listed as a receiver and only sometimes lines up in the backfield. Adding his 147 yards receiving would come up short anyway.
This makes the Oakland Raider backfield the best in the league.
I hope you enjoyed the slide show.