Do the Oakland Raiders have the best rushing offense in the National Football League?
As of right now, all signs point to YES.
Last year, the explosive combination of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, along with fullback Marcel Reese, helped the Raiders place second in the NFL in rushing yards, yards per carry, yards per game and rushing touchdowns. Some may argue, with fair reason, that the Kansas City Chiefs—led by the speedy Jamaal Charles—have the best ground game in the NFL. In 2010, the Chiefs led the NFL in rushing yards and yards per game, but they also rushed for six less touchdowns than Oakland did.
None of last year's stats matter now, because I'm looking towards the future, not stuck in the past. With that in mind, I'm going to make a bold statement: Right now, the Oakland Raiders have the best run offense in the NFL.
Darren McFadden had a coming out party in 2010. The former Arkansas Razorback uses his deadly speed, combined with a surprising amount of strength and power to run around, over and through defenders. He rushed for over 1150 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 89 yards per game in just 13 games. Had he been healthy all season and played all 16 games at this pace, he would have had closer to 1500 yards and nine touchdowns. After struggling with injuries in his first three seasons, the former fourth overall pick, he finally proved what he can do when healthy. If he can just manage to stay healthy all season in 2011, he will undoubtedly be among the most elite backs in the National Football League.
Michael Bush is a beast. Entering his senior season at Louisville in 2006, he was viewed as one of the best running backs in college football, and potentially an early first round pick. A broken leg caused him to miss his entire senior year and thus fall all the way to the fourth round of the draft, where he was picked up by Al Davis and the Raiders. Bush's unyielding strength serves as the perfect counter-punch to the blazing speed of McFadden. While he doesn't get as many carries or yards as his counterpart, one of Bush's key roles is to serve as the goal line running back, resulting in more touchdowns than McFadden in the stat-book. If the Raiders can manage to resign Bush, who is currently a restricted free agent, he will once again split time with McFadden, creating a most lethal combo.
The Raiders already potent run game got even better this week, due to the results of the NFL draft. They used two of their first three picks on offensive linemen, providing a much-needed boost to a less-than-stellar O-line. They also added running back Taiwan Jones from Eastern Washington. Jones' Chris Johnson-like speed and agility could provide a rushing attack similar to that of the Tennessee Titans. He will serve as third-string, getting carries every now and then and will provide a home run threat that will make opposing defenses fear his presence.
The speed of Taiwan Jones and the strength of Bush, led by the hybrid McFadden will be the most dangerous ground attack in all of football in 2011. Defensive coordinators around the league will cringe at the thought of trying to prepare their teams to play in the Black Hole. So hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife and hide yo' husband, because the Silver and Black are for real in 2011.