Darren McFadden will be the comeback kid for the Oakland Raiders in 2013.
Coming off two seasons of foot and ankle injuries, McFadden is healthy and ready for 2013-14 to be his comeback season. McFadden, a running back, has been with the Raiders since 2008. His best season overall was in 2010 when he carried the ball 223 times, rushed a total of 1157 yards for the season and averaged an impressive 5.19 yards per carry.
Injuries played a factor for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Even with injury, in 2011, McFadden carried the ball 113 times, rushed a total of 614 yards and was on pace to top his 2010 season with a 5.43 yard per carry average.
The 2012 season never really developed for McFadden. Plagued with “fluky” injuries, and coping with an offense he never really fit into, McFadden never seemed to get into full stride. He only averaged 3.3 yards per carry which gave him the dubious honor of having the worst average by a Raiders running back (minimum 150 carries) in franchise history.
This next season will be different as the Raider offense adapts, changes, and looks to McFadden as a centerpiece to their running game. McFadden is looking forward to a new offense and a chance to prove himself as a renewed force for the Raiders.
Raiders OC Greg Olson strongly indicated that he will be “implementing a power-running offense in 2013”. Whereas fired OC Greg Knapp asked McFadden to fit into his offense, Olson is going to scheme to his player’s strengths, saying “what we’ve decided to do, as a staff, is see what Darren McFadden is comfortable doing,” Olson said. “Let’s try and make it more comfortable for Darren, because he’s one of our premier players.” That means a return to the power-running game that McFadden excelled in under Hue Jackson.
McFadden was also underused as a receiver in 2011 and 2012. When used effectively, he can be a receiving threat as well. In his first three seasons, he averaged over 10 yards per reception.
If McFadden can avoid “fluky” injuries this year, watch for a solid running game designed for his success. Also look for him to be thrown to more as his hidden talents as a receiver have been largely overlooked. With a new OC, and an offense build for McFadden, he is projected to “return to glory” and be the comeback kid of 2013.