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Darren McFadden Must Emerge As A Vocal Leader

The Oakland Raiders are once again rebuilding. That cat was out of the bag one month into the season. What remains to be seen is a clear plan of attack going forward. We all know Reggie McKenzie still has work to do with the salary cap situation. We also know the coaches have plenty of work to do with getting a winning game plan in place each week.

Something else this team sorely needs is vocal leaders in the locker room. One such man that has the right to speak his mind whenever and however he sees fit is Darren McFadden.

Not only is Run DMC the best player sporting Silver and Black he’s also a team captain. Those two factors alone have earned him the right to be a mouthpiece for the entire franchise.

First understand that McFadden is a pro’s pro. Whatever the multiple coaching staffs he’s played for have asked of him he’s done. He’s never had any issues on or off the field. McFadden is a hard worker that has battled back from every one of his injury setbacks. Through all of his trials and tribulations we’ve seen nothing but professionalism from McFadden. Yet despite all he’s been though wasn’t until this past Sunday that we finally saw some signs of frustration from McFadden.

After failing to convert a 3-and-1 in the second quarter of Sunday’s touchdown-less victory over the Kansas City Chiefs McFadden stormed off the field showing a level of frustration we haven’t seen from him before.

But it didn’t stop with that. Recently McFadden also expressed his frustration with the play called in that specific scenario. With the Raiders needing one yard to move the chains and keep the drive going Greg Knapp called for a sweep. McFadden would have preferred something more direct.

“I’d rather just go straight ahead on a third-and-one call. It was just one of those things emotions got a hold of me. Third-and-one, you want to get the first down as a running back.”

Obviously Knapp has taken plenty of heat during this disappointing season. JBB has certainly helped lead that charge. While I’m not a fan of Knapp’s scheme or his play calling there is something to be said for having a working relationship between the players and coaches.

If Knapp is going to remain in Oakland (gulp!) then he and McFadden need to have an open dialogue. That doesn’t mean it needs to be contentious. But if your best player is unhappy with certain scenarios then he must have the freedom to express that and the staff must be open to seeing things from his perspective.

Earlier this season Mark Davis encouraged McFadden to talk to the coaches about his struggles on adjusting to the zone blocking scheme. That act echoes the point I’m trying to drive home here.

This franchise needs McFadden the leader as much as it needs McFadden the runner. Every successful team has someone so respected by the coaches and players alike that they command the attention of every member of the franchise when they speak. In order for the Raiders to take the next step they need McFadden to become that man.

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