In case you’re still sleeping on Darren McFadden get ready to be rocked out of bed by a fire alarm at 4am this season. What McFadden did 2010 was just a teaser. In 2011 Run DMC is poised to pop like hot dog that’s been left on the grill 5 minutes too long.
If he can stay healthy, McFadden will become one of the elite playmakers in football. His teammates know it cause they get to see him do it in practice on a daily basis. That’s why they’ve voted him as a team captain this season.
What makes McFadden different from most game breakers in the NFL is that he’s not some speed demon looking to dance his way into the end zone. McFadden is a football player to the core. He looks for contact and loves to deliver punishment. We’re not just talking about the times he’s got the rock either. McFadden freely sacrifices his body for the benefit of others.
Don’t believe me though. Check the game tape.
One such instance occurred a couple years ago during the final game of the regular season against the Baltimore Ravens. With little more than pride and a healthy offseason to play for, McFadden threw a punishing block on Haolti Ngata in order to protect a scrambling Charlie Frye.
Plays like that reveal McFadden’s team-first mentality mixed with a desire to do whatever it takes to win. Not saying he’s on the same level (yet) but Run DMC’s approach to the game is very similar all-time great Walter Payton. Much like Sweetness, McFadden is a football player’s football player. He plays without an ego, eager to do whatever is asked of him.
As a rookie McFadden was lining up at wide receiver where, at times, he looked like Oakland’s best playmaker out wide. Not the way Al Davis envisioned his new weapon being used McFadden has since been exclusively a running back. A running back that does more damage between the tackles than outside of them, mind you. Just ask Denver about that. And if you don’t believe them then give Jacksonville a call, they’ll tell you the same.
As it is with every NFL runner it’s not enough to just carry the rock. You’ve got to be able to pickup blitzes and block if you want to be a star in this league. Well, if that’s the case then Darren McFadden is on his way to superstardom. Few running backs take as much pride in protecting the QB as Run DMC does. If you watch him it’s almost as if McFadden lives for those third and long scenarios when he’s standing next to his quarterback in the shotgun knowing the defense is sending the house. If you look close enough you can see him picking his target just daring the defender to come flying in at full speed.
Many thought Mr. Davis was simply drafting a fast runner when he picked McFadden. What the league is learning is that Davis found himself a true football player. Now the captain is coming to claim his position at the helm of the ship. This will be the year Run DMC becomes a weekly must-see. Luckily for Raider Nation we’ve got ourselves a front row seat.