Darren McFadden: Will He Become the Next Oakland Raiders Running Back Legend?
The 2010 NFL season has seen vast improvement from the Oakland Raiders, most notably in their running game.
After a slow rookie year and an injury-plagued second year, Darren McFadden has finally sprung into his element and is showcasing his true talents and abilities on the field.
McFadden has already racked up 1,112 yards from scrimmage in only 12 games this season, as he sat out two games with a hamstring injury.
While averaging 92 yards a game, McFadden is right on track to oust Napoleon Kaufman's 1,294-yard season from 1997. Passing Kaufman, McFadden would then be in second place for yards rushed in a single season, behind the legendary Marcus Allen.
Statistics and records aside, Darren McFadden has become a force to be reckoned with this season, demoralizing opponents and amplifying Oakland's rush attack to second in the league. It's been almost a decade since the Silver and Black have cracked the top 10.
McFadden is arguably the most explosive running back in the league today. Quick on his feet, his ability to avoid and slip past defenders is remarkable. The 210-pound wrecking ball is not afraid of a collision, and in fact, he applies most of the impact himself. When forced into the path of a defender, McFadden bows his head and runs that defender over. On multiple carries this year he has powered and plowed his way over and through numerous defenders on the goal line.
Trying to tackle Darren McFadden is a difficult task because not only is he such a big, powerful guy, but he's also fast. He's one of the quickest players in the Raiders' arsenal, and that's a team we know drafts the speedsters.
It's safe to say that McFadden has grown into the player we all hoped for and is one of the main reasons for the Raiders' return to NFL relevance. But how does he compare to the Raider greats?
In 1995 the Raiders returned to Oakland and brought with them a force called Napoleon Kaufman.
Napoleon Kaufman served as the Raiders' backbone from 1995 to 2000. Kaufman was a small man at 5'9" and 185 pounds, but like McFadden, he packed a mean punch.
His awareness level and ability to read a situation was like a sixth sense, and the man used that to his advantage, weaving his way through tight gaps into open field.
Once he made it into open field, there was no one that was going to catch him. Kaufman was fast—really fast—and watching him bust through a hole and kick it into high gear was a glorious sight.
If Kaufman got through the first line, you knew nothing was going to stop him until he hit the end zone.
If McFadden surpasses Kaufman's single-season rushing yards record, it would truly be an accomplishment and will be 13 years since there has been anything close to that feat.
Bo Jackson...now there's a name Raider Nation will never forget.
If McFadden embodies any former Raider, it is definitely Bo Jackson.
Bo's time with the Raider's was short-lived due to a hip injury in 1990, but his impact on the field and in the Raider image will live on forever.
Like McFadden, Bo Jackson was big for a running back, weighing in at 230 pounds with broad shoulders, but had incredible speed. He blistered his way to 2,782 rushing yards in just four incomplete seasons. If he had stayed healthy, he just may have rushed for the most yards in Raider history.
Watching McFadden move across the field is very similar to seeing videos of Bo doing the same. We just have to hope McFadden's fate isn't similar.
What can one say about Marcus Allen?
The greatest Raider of all time? The greatest running back of all time? The greatest?
Marcus Allen was the definition of Raider Greatness and the Commitment to Excellence. He was the superman of the Silver and Black.
Marcus Allen was committed to getting the ball into the end zone, and a lot of the time that meant leaping over a pile of defenders. Allen had the speed of a sprinter and the hops of a basketball player. He was almost superhuman.
He was not just a phenomenal athlete but also a team player, sacrificing himself for the sake of the team. In crucial moments, Allen was the rock, the one you gave the ball to.
Not enough can be said about this man, so let's just let the stats do the talking:
Allen rushed for 8,545 yards in his 10 seasons—the most by any Raider in team history.
He also has 4,258 receiving yards—the fifth most by any Raider in team history.
He scored 98 touchdowns as a Raider—ranking him sixth in most points in Raider history.
That makes Marcus Allen the most decorated Raider player to wear the Silver and Black.
This season Darren McFadden is indeed the team's Marcus Allen.
Darren McFadden: The Present and the Future
This 2010 season, Darren McFadden has shown his true colors to be one of the league's most explosive running backs. He has matured into a dynamic force that can both run and catch the ball, and make it look easy too.
What has been the most impressive about his season is his ability to keep forcing his way down the field. Run after run he continues to make big plays, and that is exactly what this struggling team has been looking for the past seven seasons: big playmakers.
With 1,112 rushing yards, 476 yards in receiving and 10 touchdowns on the season under his belt, Darren McFadden is making a statement worth taking note of.
With two games to go and potential playoffs on the line, the Raiders will continue to rely heavily on Run-DMC to get the job done.
2010 is the beginning of a decade of renewal and resurgence for this organization, and Darren McFadden is one of the key players that has helped turn this team around and get it back to respectability.
If he stays healthy, McFadden will earn his place in Raider history as one of the greatest. There is no doubt in my mind.