Tom Cable has a problem on his hands. He’s got three very talented running backs with three very different skill sets and just one pigskin to go around.
On paper, the Oakland Raiders have weapons on offense that might have caused former president George W. Bush to declare anyone wearing silver and black as a domestic terrorist.
From the WMD attached to JaMarcus Russell’s right arm to the Lester Hayes stickum hands of Zach Miller, the 2009 Raiders could be an offensive juggernaut.
The truth is that the road to offensive dominance will be paved by the likes of Samson Satele and Mario Henderson while Justin Fargas, Michael Bush and Darren McFadden will be responsible for a smooth ride to the end zone.
The question is how will Coach Cable’s play calling be able to utilize three backs capable of joining the thousand yard club?
To begin, one must start with the last member of the Raider 1,000-yard rushing club, Justin Fargas. Any Raider fan who doesn’t appreciate Fargas is either a closet Chief fan or just knows nothing about football. Justin plays with a reckless abandon every time he touches the rock. When Cable tells Fargas to run through a wall, you feel bad for the bricks he’s about to destroy. With the emergence of Bush and the addition of McFadden it would seem that Young Hugg is on the outside looking in. While he won’t get 25 touches unless there are injuries, he’s still a great guy to either start a series with or to spell tired legs. As far as I’m concerned, it is still his job to lose.
Next we have the Michael Bush dilemma. He finished last season with that 177-yard effort that took an NFL check out of the hands of Chucky. This guy could honestly crank out a 1,000-yard season with only 15 touches a game. He’s got that kind of talent and he just might be the best of the three runners. The best example of how he should be utilized with the other runners was the game in Kansas City last year. After Fargas left the game with a groin injury, McFadden got the bulk of the carries while Bush ended the game. Whenever McFadden would break for a good gain, Bush would come in and punish the winded defense until the 4th quarter came around and Bush finally took the air out of Arrowhead with a 32-yard scamper to the end zone. He’s the hammer. The guy who makes the defense roll their eyes as they’re bent over gasping for breath. As I see it, he should get a few touches in the first half but Cable should keep him fresh for the 4th quarter. Imagine having a lead and a ready-to-go Michael Bush late in a game.
Among the many problems that the 2008 edition of the Raiders suffered from was a red zone offense that produced results only the 2006 Raiders would envy. Enter Darren McFadden. If he’s healthy in 2009, McFadden could be the best red zone weapon in the NFL. Yeah, I just said that. See his two touchdown performance in Denver last year. Both TDs were just from one yard out and it was against the lowly Donkey D, but his presence from 20 yards and in is undeniable. McFadden’s talents open up the entire playbook for Cable and help him in solving his issues with finding carries for three runners. DMC can be used as a wide receiver, he can take snaps under center and he can tote the pill out of the back field. He can share field time with both Bush and Fargas while making their lives easier when used as a decoy. To me, the offense must be built around McFadden. I’m not saying that he should get the majority of the carries. I’m just saying that he’s the one guy you can’t afford to not find creative ways to get the ball in his hands.
Fargas is best utilized on early downs just to help establish the run, McFadden is the all-purpose talent who must be involved heavily in order to keep the defense honest and Bush is the closer.
Seems simple enough, right?
It is foolish to anticipate these running backs remaining healthy for the entire season. Expect an ever changing playbook depending on both health and match ups.
Having three talented backs is a problem only if they don’t believe in the system in place or if there are no results to justify sharing the ball.
Tom Cable might have a problem, but it’s a welcome one when you’re still brining along a young quarterback and are trying to reverse a losing culture.
Now, we just need a nickname for this trio. Any suggestions?
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