Darren McFadden didn’t exactly start off his 2013-2014 season the way he and his fans had hoped.
The star running back was only able to pick up 48 rushing yards on 17 carries in the Oakland Raiders’ Week 1 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The only real bright spot in his game was his first half touchdown that he slammed in from the goal line. He also had a beautiful over-the-shoulder touchdown catch, but that was turned back after the play was reviewed.
Despite his rough start to the season, head coach Dennis Allen is not discouraged. And rightfully so.
“Well, we ran for 171 yards,” Allen said. “I’m not concerned with who gets the yards. We were able to run and run effectively. Darren’s going to get his touches. Darren’s going to get his yards.”
“It’s one football game… I’m still pleased with where Darren is, and I still think he’s going to have a good year.”
Wise words from the Raiders’ head coach, and he makes some solid points.
McFadden wasn’t able to develop a strong running attack in his first game of the season. So what? As a team, the Raiders still rushed for 171 yards (112 of those from their quarterback), which is pretty solid. McFadden will get his touches down the road, and the important part is that the Raiders stay patient with the whole process.
New offensive coordinator Greg Olson has brought back the power blocking system that the former Razorback loves and shines in. Fans have been waiting patiently for McFadden to stay healthy and put up big numbers like he did in 2010, when he rushed for 1,157 yards and scored seven touchdowns. That career year solidified the versatile running back as one of the league’s best, but he has yet to fully return to that form.
McFadden is looking for more openings and one way that those could be presented to him is if his speedy quarterback Terrelle Pryor would hand the ball off to him on the read-option plays more often. The trending offensive game plan is being used by several other NFL teams with mobile quarterbacks and explosive running backs, such as the Eagles, 49ers, and Redskins.
The Raiders ran the read-option pretty abundantly on Sunday, but most of the time it was Pryor keeping the ball and sprinting down the field. Pryor has been doing an exceptional job thus far, and he runs the read-option beautifully, but more involvement for McFadden might prove to be successful.
Week 2 will provide McFadden and the Raiders a chance to bounce back and snag their first win of the season in their home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. McFadden will look to explode against a defense that will have a hard time containing him.