Like every company out there struggling to make due with what they have the Dennis Allen led Oakland Raiders are asking their employees to take on larger work loads. Cash strapped and unable to make any major moves in free agency the Raiders are relying on players to take on a multitude of roles in order fill in for what was lost from the roster.
One of the bigger holes to fill was the void left by the departure of Michael Bush. Aside from being McFadden’s more than capable fill in, Bush also handled other roles in the Oakland offense.
All along we wondered who would be the Raiders’ bruiser on short and tough yardage situations. Last week we got our answer and the early returns were unfavorable at best.
Darren McFadden has been tapped as the short yardage specialist in Greg Knapp’s offense and thus far it is very much a work in progress.
Beyond McFadden’s struggles to gain tough yards against the Cardinals last week there is also concern over the newly instituted zone blocking scheme being the right method to move the chains. Oakland’s O-line hasn’t looked all too comfortably in Knapp’s system. But Knapp isn’t going to change his philosophy anytime soon. Not when he’s had success in the past with other backs running behind the same blocking scheme.
“I’ve always had a belief that the number one back can still be the goal line back, doesn’t have to necessarily be a bigger, stronger guy. My experience tells me so. The last couple years, it was Arian Foster had a lot of success. Warrick Dunn was one the best inside tackle runners I’ve ever been around as a coach. It’s not just the back that requires the execution of the play. So, it didn’t bother me to have him in there, we just didn’t get it executed across the board.”
No denying Knapp has had success in the past. There’s also no denying his offense needs to figure out a few things between now and the start of the season.
So if McFadden is going to be the man for short yardage missions then the Raiders and Knapp had better make sure they use what full contact practice time they have left. Pretty soon the only time this team will be practicing these situations will be in heat of a regular season battle.