Oakland Raiders: Darren McFadden Tops 10 Best Offensive Weapons in 2011
The 2011 Oakland Raiders are primed for a solid season. New head coach Hue Jackson looks like a star in the making and quarterback Jason Campbell is ready for the best year of his career.
Campbell may have the most talented offensive unit he's ever played with in 2011. If it's not the most talented, you know it has to be the fastest.
The Raiders are loaded with young talent on the offensive side of the ball and they have a great offensive-minded coach who knows how to get the most out of his players.
Let's take a look at the Raiders top 10 offensive threats that Campbell will have at his disposal in 2011.
10. Khalif Barnes
This could be one of Campbell's favorite targets in the red zone in 2011. Khalif Barnes looked like Jerry Rice on two plays last season.
He caught two passes for eight yards and one touchdown in 2010. Don't be surprised to see him catch a couple more passes in 2011.
Defenses usually don't expect a 6'5", 325-pound offensive tackle to run routes, but when they do, it usually makes for a great highlight. You just have to hope these plays don't give the big man any ideas for a position change.
9. Taiwan Jones
Taiwan Jones will only be a rookie in 2011, but don't be surprised if Coach Jackson draws up some plays for the new running back.
This speedy rookie shot up the draft boards after he ran a blistering 40 time at his pro day. He was clocked at 4.27 and 4.33 on the scouts' watches.
The Raiders love speed and they'll enjoy having Jones in as a third back on offense. He has the ability to turn a routine play into a touchdown every time he touches the ball.
8. Chaz Schilens
Chaz Schilens is a player who has the ability to be on the top of this list if he can stay healthy. He has the size, speed and hands to be a playmaking receiver in the NFL.
He has missed the majority of the last two seasons due to injury, but it appears he is ready and healthier than ever heading into the 2011 season.
Schilens gives Campbell a tall-and-reliable target in the passing game. At 6'4", 225 pounds, Schilens is a beast for the wide receiver position. He is only 25 years old so he has plenty of time to get back on track.
7. Darrius Heyward-Bey
Darrius Heyward-Bey was the seventh-overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. The Raiders drafted him knowing it would take a couple of years for him to get up to speed with the NFL. His blazing speed attracted Al Davis and that was all he needed to be a Raider.
Heyward-Bey is a great kid and hard worker. His speed and size give the Raiders a dimension on offense that spreads out the opposing defense. Look for DHB to have the best season of his young career in 2011.
Last offseason, he worked on getting bigger and stronger and gained over 10 pounds. This year his focus will be on making plays with the ball in his hands.
6. Marcel Reece
Marcel Reece is starting to be recognized outside of the Raider Nation. Reece is truly one of the best fullbacks in the NFL. Not only is the former wide receiver from Washington a solid run blocker, but he is an amazing pass catcher.
Not only can Reece execute a perfect power block and create a hole for Darren McFadden or Michael Bush, but he can also catch any pass thrown his way and outrun the defense.
Reece caught 25 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. Don't be surprised to see Reece make the Pro Bowl as a fullback in 2011.
5. Jacoby Ford
Jacoby Ford could very well be the Raiders most dangerous offensive weapon in 2011. He's faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and he's able to leap over taller defenders and make great catches.
Ford's game against the Chiefs last season in Oakland could have been the best performance for a receiver in 2010. He literally took over the game and won it for the Raiders.
Not only did he make one of the best catches of the season to help take the game to overtime, but he also made a great diving catch to get the Raiders in field-goal range to win the game. That, of course, was after he returned a kickoff for a touchdown and had other great catches in traffic.
Coach Jackson expects great things out of Ford in 2011 and so does the Raider Nation. Just don't blink when he has the ball because you may miss an amazing play.
4. Louis Murphy
Louis Murphy is another great young receiver on the Raiders roster. Murphy always seems to be involved in big plays late in games.
He may not have great numbers yet, but the majority of his touchdowns have come in important times of the game.
Last season, he had the go-ahead touchdown against the Rams that gave the Raiders the lead for good in the third quarter. In his first game ever, he had the go-ahead touchdown against the Chargers with two minutes left in the game, but the Chargers offense came back and won it.
He tied the game late against the Bengals in his rookie season and the Raiders won the game. And who can forget his great blocking effort on a Zach Miller touchdown against the Eagles? He also had two big touchdowns against the Steelers in 2009, including the game winner in the fourth quarter.
Murphy is a playmaking receiver who should explode in 2011.
3. Michael Bush
Michael Bush could be a starter for a lot of teams in the NFL. He is a bruising back who will run you over if he can't outrun you.
He led the Raiders in rushing touchdowns in 2010 and he most likely will do it again in 2011. He does great in short-yardage situations and has done a fantastic job when he starts for Darren McFadden.
Bush gives the Raiders two starting running backs and, in the league today, that is very important. Injuries happen all the time and teams have to make sure there isn't a major drop off when their top back gets hurt.
Bush had 655 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on 158 carries. If he can improve on those numbers, the Raiders will be in the playoff race late in the season.
2. Zach Miller
A Pro Bowl tight end is a quarterback's best friend. Zach Miller is the second tight end who Jason Campbell has gotten to the Pro Bowl.
Miller has been the most consistent player for the Raiders offense since he came into the league. Every year he has improved, and in 2010 he was rewarded with a Pro Bowl appearance.
Miller is not only a solid pass blocker, but he has some of the best hands in football. He may not be able to outrun or out-jump everyone in the NFL, but he runs smart routes.
When you play in the AFC West, you need to have a solid tight end. Miller gives the Raiders one of the league's best and should enjoy a very successful 2011 campaign.
1. Darren McFadden
Darren McFadden showed the league what he could do in 2010. He amassed over 1,600 yards of total offense and scored 10 touchdowns.
At times his speed was too much for the opposing defense to handle, as he outran everyone on the field. Other times he was just too powerful to bring down and he delivered the punishment on the defense.
McFadden ran with a purpose in 2010 and the opposing defense took notice. McFadden would outrun linebackers and defensive linemen who tried tackling him, and he would run over the defensive backs who tried tackling him.
The McFadden of 2010 was a different running back than his first two seasons. Former superstar safety John Lynch called a game for the Raiders and pointed out the difference in McFadden's game.
"I used to love playing against McFadden because he used to run so high," Lynch said. "Now he is running behind his pads with force and determination."
The Raiders have a great weapon in McFadden and they should be able to get the ball in his hands a lot more often. Coach Jackson is a smart man and he now has plenty of weapons on offense which is why the Raiders should enjoy more success in 2011.
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