By Danny Cox
The Oakland Raiders have managed to stay in the postseason race thanks to mediocrity riddling the entire AFC. Their defense is holding their own and Carson Palmer is leading the way in a well-oriented passing attack. In order for the Raiders to get over the hump though and win more games so they can stay competitive in the AFC West, they’ve got to do one thing.
That one thing happens to be finding some semblance of a running game.
It is incredibly easy to see why the rushing attack of the Oakland Raiders is sitting ranked thirty-first in the NFL. They are averaging a mere 76.8 rushing yards per game, and that is even stretching it sometimes.
Running back Darren McFadden is leading the charge, so to speak, with 324 yards on the ground through six games. Had one of his 103 attempts not been a 64-yard scamper, then that number would be a heck of a lot lower, too.
Not a single other player on the team even has broken the century mark. The closest is Mike Goodson who has 89 yards on 11 carries this season. Making matters look even worse is that Palmer is third on the team in rushing with only 26 yards.
While it is true that McFadden is the top running back on the team, one has to wonder if he still has the same skills and talent that he had just a year ago. In seven games in 2011 – limited by injury – McFadden had 614 yards on the ground in 113 carries. The year before that, he had 1,157 yards on 223 carries.
It certainly looks like there is a problem here, but Raiders‘ coach Dennis Allen believes that it is blocking and the line that could be the problem.
“Yeah, he does,” Allen said. “He’s still an explosive player. We’ve got to do a better job creating room for him to run. We’ve incorporated a few more of those gap-scheme plays, and I know you can say this on every play, but we’re one block here or there from a big run.”
Something has got to be done soon before it gets too much later into the season, and time is up for Oakland. Carson Palmer can only do so much on offense, and if there is no rushing game at all then it will be easier for opposing defense to guard against the pass.
McFadden realizes that things have got to change and he’s making sure to do his research to see how he can get better and help the Raiders more.
“You want to look at every run, so you can know what you did wrong or if you should have stayed with the hole or made an earlier cut,” McFadden said. “It’s one of those things where you have to go back and re-evaluate yourself.”
Coach Allen knows that McFadden isn’t slacking and he is giving his all on every down out on the field. Allen believes that a few big runs could get McFadden’s confidence back and also make the Raiders more balanced on offense as a team.
The only problem is finding the blocks and making the cuts to get those big runs. McFadden is grinding out some hard-fought yards, but he’s got to break one soon to deliver some momentum in the Raider offense.
If this stagnant production in the running game keeps up, it won’t be long before the “Raider Nation” stops talking about playoffs and starts saying “well, there’s always next year.”
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Raiders news, see CBS Sports San Francisco.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.