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Raiders Need More From McFadden

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Running back Darren McFadden has yet to prove that he can carry the Osklsnd Raiders' rushing game for an entire season. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.
Running back Darren McFadden has yet to prove that he can carry the Osklsnd Raiders' rushing game for an entire season. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden has amassed 3,334 yards and 18 touchdowns in five seasons with the franchise. McFadden, 25, ranks 11th on  the Raiders’ all-time rushing leaders list and is 1,061 yards away from breaking into the top five. Despite ranking among the best to wear the Silver and Black, McFadden has not helped the Raiders finish with winning records, let alone develop a strong running game.

The best year for the Raiders’ running game in the Darren McFadden so far has been 2010. The Raiders had the second best run game in the league, and McFadden had his best season, gaining 1,157 yards at an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Even though McFadden missed three games, he was one of the top backs in the league, and the Raiders had Michael Bush to rush for another 655 yards. McFadden was once again one of the league’s best running backs through the first six weeks of the 2011 season until a foot injury ended his season. The Raiders still had Bush to lean on and helped make Oakland a top-10 rushing attack.

One season later, the Raiders’ run game spiraled to one of the worst in the league. After McFadden’s success the previous two seasons, the Raiders went all in on him in 2012. Without Bush, Oakland dropped to 28th in the NFL in rushing yards and crossed the goal line just four times on the ground.  As a result, the Raiders have ditched offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and the zone-blocking scheme this season and look to make use of McFadden’s downhill running style again. But Oakland again will make McFadden its main focus without a clear-cut second back.

Being a two-time Heisman finalist and at times a star running back for the Raiders has made McFadden a household name among football fans. But for Oakland, McFadden hasn’t proven to be the back the Raiders can depend on. He is yet to play in more than 13  games in a season, missing 23 in total in his five-year career. And he has led Oakland in rushing only twice over five seasons behind either Bush or Justin Fargas, and even finished behind both in 2009.

The Raiders will enter the 2014 offseason with a big decision to make on whether or not to keep McFadden, and will have the cap space to support any decision they make. McFadden is reportedly in GM Reggie McKenzie’s long-term plans, but if the former Arkansas Razorback commands a big contract, the Raiders will have a tough time signing the second running back they need.