Will the Oakland Raiders Run Away With It This Year?

A.J. DeMelloCorrespondent IMay 14, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 19:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs against the New York Jets during an NFL game on October 19, 2008 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Aside from Cris Carter and Tom Jackson's unprofessional antics that surround the Oakland Raiders whenever ESPN talks Raider football, they and many others are overlooking or choosing to overlook the Raiders' rushing attack.

The Oakland Raiders have quietly ranked in the top 10 in rushing each of the past two seasons.

In 2007, Lane Kiffin's debut and Tom Cable's first year implementing the zone blocking scheme, the Raiders were sixth in rushing, averaging 4.1 yards per carry and 130.4 rushing yards a game. However, the Raiders only managed 11 rushing touchdowns.

Enter Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, who combined for 920 yards rushing off of 208 carries last year (an average of 4.4 yards per carry) with seven rushing touchdowns.

McFadden was hampered with turf toe last year, and Bush worked his way up the depth chart when given a chance to play.

Both of these men will be used more frequently when the season starts, and you can bet the Raiders will look to use them much more than Justin Fargas.

Last year Fargas was given the rock 218 times and had just 853 rushing yards to show for it, averaging 3.8 yards per carry, and only had one rushing touchdown. The Raiders' two younger backs had more rushing yards combined on 10 fewer carries than Fargas.

That was without Justin Griffith or Oren O'Neal, both of the Raiders' starting fullbacks, who went down with injuries last year (who were responsible for Fargas having 1,000 yards rushing in 2007), forcing them to sign Luke Lawton midseason. Lawton did better than expected but still isn't as strong as O'Neal or newly added Lorenzo Neal.

This brings us to how the rushing attack will be even better for the Raiders.

The rotation of fullbacks will help the Raiders, since both O'Neal and Neal are great run blockers. Neal also brings some veteran leadership to the offense and will be a great player for a guy like Oren O'Neal to learn from until he becomes fully healthy.

McFadden wasn't at full strength for most of the 2008 season and played through a shoulder injury as well. Having him fully healthy should be exciting with how they used Bush against Tampa Bay.

They ran at the Bucs with Bush over and over to wear them down, then let McFadden touch the ball on a sweep or screen to see if he can beat a few people around a corner, which he has been known to do.

Samson Satele, who the Raiders acquired via trade, is more versatile than former Raiders center Jake Grove and will probably prove to be better in time.

With the Raiders' ability to command eight men in the box against the run, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Javon Walker, who is healthy now, and Zach Miller should be able to make some big plays for this young offense.

The Raiders can really run away with it this year on offense if they execute by giving the ball to Darren McFadden and Michael Bush more.

Two power fullbacks, assuming Oren O'Neal is healthy to play for the Raiders at some point this year, will be a bad mix for opposing defenses, especially with the talent the Raiders have on the outside to beat you for the big play.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.