Oakland Raiders Quarterbacks Not the Focus: This Is Darren McFadden's Team!

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst IOctober 28, 2010

Oakland Raiders Quarterbacks Not the Focus: This Is Darren McFadden's Team!

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    People around Raider Nation are still screaming for Bruce Gradkowski even after the Oakland Raiders put a 59-14 whipping on the Denver Broncos. Jason Campbell posted a season high rating of 127 but that doesn't seem to be good enough.

    I believe Campbell should be given another opportunity based on his performance against the Broncos. However, I would scream either way because neither guy is good enough to say "he will take us."

    Neither one of them are the most important man on the Raider offense. Darren McFadden is hands down the most valuable offensive player on the team.

    It's a lot like the 1983 Raiders. Owner Al Davis wanted Marc Wilson and head coach Tom Flores wanted Jim Plunkett. Plunkett ended up being the man at the helm, but he would even tell you that he wasn't the most important offensive player.

    That was Marcus Allen.

    Now with the quarterback position unsettled, McFadden is that guy. Turn the page to see why.

The Numbers

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    GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 26:  Runningback Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders rushes the football past Paris Lenon #51 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 26, 2010 in G
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    McFadden is fifth in the league in rushing with 557 yards and a 5.5 YPC average. He's averaging 111 yards per game when he plays and is tied for third in the league with six touchdowns.

    McFadden's six touchdowns are out of 16 total touchdowns for 38 percent. He also has 193 receiving yards, and in total accounts for 750 of the Raiders 2,383 total yards.

    That's 31 percent of the team's total yards and 38 percent of their scoring, and he missed two of the Raiders' seven games. Now that's production. McFadden means everything to the Oakland Raiders offense. 

Iniside and Outside

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    OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders in action during their game against the St. Louis Rams at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The key to what McFadden is doing this year is that he can run inside and outside. Opposing teams are so afraid of his outside speed that they don't load the middle up.

    That allows McFadden to cut back over the middle or just hit the hole inside. Michael Bush was stopped by the San Francisco 49ers simply because they packed the middle where they knew he would run.

    McFadden would have presented a different problem for the 49er defense.

Opposing Defenses Dare Raider Quarterbacks

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    CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 27:  Mike Adams #20, Robaire Smith #98 and Matt Roth #53 of the Cleveland Browns tackle Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Ima
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    After they've had a heavy dose of McFadden, they load the box and dare Raider quarterbacks to beat them. All a Raider quarterback has to do is make a few plays and not be a liability to win a game.

    They must make the opposing defense pick their poison.

    Throwing over the top of the defense makes them have to stay honest and opens up the Raider offense. Stacking the box takes one safety out of deep coverage and leaves the whole field open for the passing game.

    This is the best way to set the quarterback up for success.

Calms the Pass Rush

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    The Oakland Raider offensive line is not very good at pass blocking so the quarterbacks are in constant danger. McFadden and his big play ability tends to slow the pass rush down a little.

    The Raiders can especially throw the deep ball with plenty of time with McFadden in play action. However, the play action isn't the only way in which McFadden helps calm the opposing pass rush down.

    His running success alone does that.

    Defensive linemen love to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback on 3rd-and-long situations. Defensive coordinators love to dial up blitzes to give the quarterback less time to find receivers on longer pass routes.

    McFadden's 5.5 yards per carry keeps the Raiders out of those 3rd-and-long situations. 

Opens Up the Deep Ball

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    McFadden opens up the deep ball by more than just slowing the pass rush with play action. The eight in the box that the opposing defenses employ to stop the run leaves man coverage on the outside.

    If that isn't enough, it causes safeties to be nosy toward the run game. That one lost step goes a long way toward the fast Raider receivers getting behind the defense.

    The opposing safeties can't help but be nosy toward the run because McFadden can go to the house on any play himself.

Blitz Pick Up

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    NASHVILLE - SEPTEMBER 12: Jason Campbell #8 of the Oakland Raiders looks to pass against the Tennessee Titans during the NFL season opener at LP Field on September 12, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Raiders 38-13. (Photo by Joe Robb
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    When Raider quarterbacks get sacked, the blame cannot be put on McFadden's shoulders. McFadden has done a good job protecting the quarterback from blitzers to the point.

    Did you see the hit he put on a Houston Texans blitzer?

    This is yet another area that McFadden has improved in. 

Checkdown Option

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    If there's nothing open down the field, McFadden is an excellent checkdown option. Good hands out of the backfield are good, but it is his ability to turn a checkdown into a touchdown that's so impressive.

    On third and very long, Oakland Raider quarterbacks don't necessarily have to force the ball in. A checkdown throw to McFadden in space has a good chance of getting that first down.

    What quarterback wouldn't want such a luxury?

Can Also Get Deep

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    OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 03:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders can't hang on to a pass as Dannell Ellerbe #59 of the Baltimore Ravens defends during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on January 3, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo b
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The Raiders have yet to hit McFadden on a deep ball this year, but it has to happen at some point. The man has excellent hands and 4.27 wheels that are sure to get behind any linebacker.

    It's basically a fast, 6'2" receiver with a linebacker on him.

    It seems unfair doesn't it?

    I'm sure that Raider offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is in the lab drawing something up for McFadden down the field. It shouldn't be too long before it is used during a game at some point this year.

    It's too good of a matchup problem not to exploit.

Takes Double Coverage Off Zach Miller

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    Zach Miller is a big beneficiary to McFadden's pass-catching skills out of the backfield. While deep safeties are occupied with the the Raiders' fast receivers, the underneath coverage has to look for McFadden as well as Miller.

    McFadden's play action also causes opposing linebackers and safeties to take their eyes off Miller for a second. That gives Miller all the advantage he needs to lose the defense even further and make a big play.

    Have you noticed that Miller usually gets deep when McFadden is in the lineup?

Opens It Up For the New Weapon

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    Hue Jackson has brought a more vertical version of the West Coast offense to Raider Nation. If you're familiar with the West Coast offense, the fullback is usually open when there's a good pass catching tight end and tailback.

    With McFadden and Miller, such a combination exists in Oakland.

    Think of how well Tom Rathman played off tight end Brent Jones and tailback Roger Craig. In Marcel Reece, the Raiders may have a bigger weapon than Rathman was in his day.

    Reece can run, block and catch just like Rathman could, but has speed to run away from linebackers. It is very advantageous to have a fullback that can go vertical as McFadden allows Reece to sneak out of the backfield.

    The return of No. 1 receiver Chaz Schilens and deep threat Louis Murphy will complete the Raider offense.


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

    McFadden has to be a quarterback and offense's best friend.

    The man can run the ball well both inside and out.

    He picks up the blitz.

    He has elite speed and catches the ball well.

    He makes everybody on the offense's job easier.

    You can line him up in the backfield or split him out wide.

    McFadden is the Swiss army knife of the Oakland Raiders offense.

    I hope you enjoyed the slide show.

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