The Oakland Raiders had their best season since losing in the Super Bowl when they finished 8-8 in 2010.
While this was certainly exciting for anyone in the Raider Nation, for many, it was not the most exciting part of the season that breathed new life into a struggling team.
Over the past seven years, a time I like to refer to as the "dark years," there were points when the Raiders offense reached embarrassing levels of ineptitude.
This past year, the Raiders offense showed sparks of dominance. For me at least, having an offense ranked in the top ten of the NFL was easily the most exciting part of last year.
The Oakland Raiders put up more than 21 points in 11 different games in 2010. Before that, the Raiders had only been able to score more than 21 points in 16 games over the past five years combined.
A large part of the offensive resurgence can be attributed to the monster year that Darren McFadden had, along with the game changing plays made by Jacoby Ford later in the season.
However, Marcel Reece played a large roll in remaking the Raiders offense as well.
Reece became a big play threat catching passes out of the backfield this season, averaging 13.3 yards per catch, including plays of 73 and 51 yards. Reece finished the season with 25 receptions for 333 yards and three touchdowns.
Recce's ability to catch and run with the ball should come as no surprise. He played wide receiver in college at the University of Washington before being moved to tight end and finally fullback while with the Raiders.
While his numbers were not gaudy, his presence made a big difference on the offense. The Raiders have had issues with their offensive line for years now and the constant pressure on quarterbacks has led to check down passes as often as it has lead to sacks.
With Reece, the Raiders suddenly had a check down option that could not only get the first down, but had the ability to break a huge play.
Now that Reece has shown that he can be a difference maker, the Raiders need to use him more like one. Reece needs to receive more targets and the Raiders need to draw up more plays specifically for Reece.
Having a play maker at the fullback position creates all kinds of match up issues for opposing defenses. The Raiders offense already has three players that defenses need to account for in Darren McFadden, Zach Miller (assuming he comes back) and speedster Jacoby Ford.
Getting Reece more involved will force teams to game plan for a fourth offensive threat.
If the Raiders are creative with their use of Reece, he has the ability to have a monster year. Having Reece slide out of the backfield on passing downs is only one way of putting his skill set to use.
The Raiders can do things like run screen plays for Reece and create big problems for defenses by starting Reece off at the FB position and motioning him out to a wide out position.
If the Raiders take the time to ensure that they get the most out of Marcel Reece at the fullback position, he has the potential to change the way that position is viewed.
In the NFL, fullbacks are primarily blockers and short yardage runners, but if Reece has a big year, look for other teams to emulate his success by placing athletics pass catchers at FB.
Everyone knows that the NFL is a trendy league (think 3-4 defense and the wildcat formation).
Marcel Reece may just create the next big fad in the NFL with his play at fullback.
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