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Time to turn McFadden loose

The Raiders are headed toward the last quarter turn in need of a finishing kick if they hope to enter the 2009 offseason feeling as if they accomplished anything but another lost season.

Four more games, including Thursday night’s NFL Network telecast against the San Diego Chargers, who have beaten the Raiders 10 consecutive times dating back to 2003.

Four games for Darren McFadden, whose season was sabotaged by two cases of turf toe, to make some big plays and leave a lasting impression.

McFadden has missed three games outright and had at least five others where he was either injured or recovering from being injured. As a result, he trails six running back taken after him in the NFL draft in rushing.

The most productive rookies are Chicago’s Matt Forte of Tulane (second round, No. 44 overall) with 1,012 yards, Tennesee’s Chris Johnson of East Carolina (first round, No. 24 overall) with 958, Houston’s Steve Slaton of West Virginia (third round, No. 89 overall) with 904, Detroit’s Kevin Smith of Central Florida (third round, No. 64 overall) with 621, Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart of Oregon (first round, No. 13 overall) with 586 and Baltimore’s Ray Rice of Rutgers (second round, No. 55 overall) with 423.

McFadden has handled the ball, rushing and receiving, far less than any of the above backs, with 87 rushes (for 405 yards) and 17 receptions (for 158) _ 104 touches out of 691 offensive plays the Raiders have run this season.

The good news is McFadden had a better fate than first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall, the Illinois back taken No. 23 overall who had his season ended with a broken shoulder, or college teammate Felix Jones, whose torn toe ligaments terminated his season after 30 carries for 266 yards and an 8.9 yards per carry average.

Visual evidence suggests McFadden is as close as he has been all season to the back who had 164 yards on 21 carries against Kansas City in Week 2, the only time he has handled the ball more than 20 times in a game.

The Raiders have been careful to ease McFadden back into action rather than re-injure his turf toe, but it’s time to begin getting some use out of an investment that could total $60 million.

Coach Tom Cable estimated that McFadden was probably on the field for “30 or 35 of the Raiders 57 offensive plays against Kansas City.

Considering the Raiders’ offensive struggles, and McFadden being their most dangerous weapon, it’s hard to fathom why he ever leaves the field at all now that he’s somewhere approximating 100 percent.

As much as Cable believes Justin Fargas to be “one of the bricks in the foundation” of the Raiders, McFadden and Russell represent the future, and that’s what Oakland is looking toward with a 3-9 record heading into the last four games of the season.

Following the Raiders’ win over Denver, Russell talked about how much McFadden changes things merely because of his presence on the field. His location and position is the first prioirty of any defensive scheme.

Considering how little production the Raiders have gotten from their wide receivers, adding into the mix that Ashley Lelie is questionable because of persistent headaches and that rookie Chaz Schilens has been bothered by a bad ankle and Achilles’ tendonitis, it makes it that much easier to slide McFadden into the slot or have him split wide on plays when the Raiders are playing Fargas, fullback Luke Lawton, or both.

In that role, a reverse like the one the Raiders ran with Johnnie Lee Higgins becomes an option, with McFadden as the ballcarrier.

As it stands, McFadden hasn’t had more than 22 touches in a single game, that being the Chiefs game in Week 2. His next highest is 17, a week later against Buffalo, when he was slipping and sliding all over the artificial surface and struggling with turf toe.

Going into the last four games, McFadden ought to be seeing the ball a minimum of 22 times per game. With fifteen to 18 rushes per game, throw in five or more receptions, and McFadden can join the rookie party and give the Raiders a glimmer of hope toward next season.

Cable said the Raiders have been building toward giving McFadden an increased workload.

“To get everything put in you can’t just throw it in all at once,” Cable said. “You’ve got to progressive build it, build it, and we did that again this week.”

When asked if McFadden could be the most important skill position player, Cable still sounded inclined to spread things around as much as possible.

“With (McFadden) and JaMarcus continuing to get better, I think that nucleus right there, with Fargas running the ball so hard . . . then you just need a receiver or two to step up and make some plays,” Cable said.

Another option _ put McFadden to work. Run him out of the I formation, give him some toss sweeps as a single back, throw him screen passes, line him up in the slot and hit him in the seam. Make him the centerpiece of the offense for the next month.

And one more thing _ if you line up him up as the shotgun quarterback in the “Stallion,” “Wildcat” or whatever the Raiders are calling it, do something other than the option handoff with Fargas that has made the Oakland version of the formation inferior to those run elsewhere.

News and notes from Wednesday’s walkthrough:

– Center Jake Grove (calf) and Ricky Brown (groin) are out, with both players expecting to be back on Dec. 14 against New England. Grove said he is in the process of strengthening the calf and that it wasn’t quite right on Monday.

– Lelie is listed as questionable with headaches, with Cable being a little light on the details. He said he didn’t know if they were migraines, and said Tuesday he didn’t think Lelie was hurting because of a blow to the head.

If Lelie can’t play, it could mean more time for Johnnie Lee Higgins or Todd Watkins, unless Cable opts to move Schilens to split end from flanker.

– The only players on the Raiders who have experienced a win over San Diego are Nnamdi Asomugha, Justin Fargas, Ronald Curry, Marques Tuiasospo and specialists Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler. All were suited up for the 34-31 overtime win over the Chargers on Sept. 28, 2003, and only Tuiasosopo did not play.

The Raiders prevailed on Janikowski’s 46-yard field goal in overtime. Rich Gannon completed 26 of 43 passes for 348 yards and touchdowns of 36 yards to Tim Brown, 2 yards to Doug Jolley and 36 yards to Alvis Whitted, with Charlie Garner adding a 24-yard scoring run.

LaDainian Tomlinson was the center of the San Diego attack with 28 carries for 187 yards. He also had seven catches for 25 yards.

(That’s how you use a running back).

– The last time the Raiders won in San Diego was Dec. 14, 2002, prevailing 27-7. Gannon was 26 of 41 for 328 yards, with Tyrone Wheatley and Garner scoring on the ground.

Lechler, Janikowski and Tuiasosopo are the only current Raiders who were around for that game.

Regarding the 10 straight losses to San Diego, Cable said, “We’ve talked about it, and it really takes care of itself because of the division opponent, and the rivarly and all those things.”

– Schilens, a seventh-round draft pick out of San Diego State, will play his first NFL game in the stadium where he played his college games.

He had numerous ticket requests, but said he bought only eight because at 74 bucks a shot, “it was too expensive.”

– Kansas City defensive back Maurice Leggett ought to consider sending a latter of thanks to Cable for being named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his 76-yard return of a fake field goal attempt.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • http://cctimes raiderhomey

    Yo S&B, I’m with ya bro, I don’t give a cr@p if they suit up “the cable guy”, as long as we land in the W column, I like it.

  • http://cctimes raiderhomey

    Hey charlie, little,little charlie my boy, if the only braggin rights you have is ownage of the Raiders, that pretty much sums up just how badly ya’ll $uk buddy.

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Raiderhomey Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    C’mon Kell, the Raiders have ALWAYS been at or near the top in penalties. Al does not give a $hit about penalties,
    _________________________________________________

    Oh I see. That’s why the Raiders are soooo good at beating themselves. Thanks for your astute observation.

  • dikembesaysno

    Charley,

    Gotta ask, are you really RASTA? I hope so.

  • http://cctimes raiderhomey

    ey Kell, I’m not bakin on ya, but tell me this, why is it the Raiders play just good enough to lose, more often than not, now, astute that.

  • vegas raider

    More like PASTA

  • vegas raider

    Mike Crabtree’s college roommate just got busted dealing coke and Mike was there when the raid went down. Red Flags anyone

  • Charley Charger

    Dikumbo, Ididnta goan kall nobuddy naimz. Alla Iwaza seyin iz dat dem der chargerz is gonna beet yourz teem tanite. Thazall.

  • CRANK SMOKER

    or if you have a sprint cell phone you can watch the game on your phone with nfl mobile live!

  • http://cctimes raiderhomey

    Kell, yo Kell, I’m in need of a little astute-ness.

  • dikembesaysno

    Charley,

    You called Raiderhomey, Raderhomo. Was that not an insult?

  • S&B – Nation Collective

    vegas raider Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 12:30 pm
    Mike Crabtree’s college roommate just got busted dealing coke and Mike was there when the raid went down. Red Flags anyone
    ==================================================
    No red flags. The raid went down in the room of the kid dealing the drugs. I doubt that Crabtree or his other roommate had anything to do with it. Plus, even if they knew their roommate was shady, I don’t think it would be fair to assign guilt by association

  • http://www.insidebayarea.com/ MR ( Now Worried About Brien)

    I’m counting down. I don’t think Kiffin has any interest if we lose now.

  • vegas raider

    I know if my roommate was selling blow, I was doing blow. Mike had to know what was going on, and knowing he was going to be a top 5 pick in the draft unless he did something stupid, and still was in the house shows poor judgement. But hey LT was on crack and is in the Hall of Fame so what the hell

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    RaiderHomey,

    Im not quite sure about your question. but

    The Raiders, imo, do play up & down to the competition.

    Last Sunday that bonehead Janokowski play was a huge reason for the loss

    Before that Kwame Harris’ crucial and often offsides penalities were very instrumental

    Dropped passes………….

    JLH running out of bounds at the Raider 5 fielding an errant kickoff, etc, etc, etc

    Bill Callahan’s assessment in 03 that the Raides were the dumbest team in football, was and is true.

    Heavily penalized and stupid year after year after year

    Why? year after year after year?

  • RaiderRockstar

    I don’t think it would be fair to assign guilt by association

    ***

    I don’t either, but Antonio Pierce got his vehicle impounded for hanging out with Plaxico.

  • http://PROFOOTBALLTALK.COM DIRT LOT FOOTBALL

    SAN DE IEGO SUPER CHARGER’S IS THAT THE WORST 3-RD GRADE SONG 4 AN NFL TEAM U EVER HEARD OR WHAT ? THROW IN THOSE POWDER BLUE UNI’S — TIME 2 THROW UP..

  • Charley Charger

    Dikumbo, I’z dont reedz two gude. I’z waznt tryin ta mezz wif nowun. I’z waz juzta braggin onz mine ownez teem. Thazall.

  • Brien (He is a House Bro)

    Oreo kookie kell, you havent been working in a while. lol Loser

  • http://cctimes raiderhomey

    And another thing while I’m at it, I realize that maybe, just maybe Jamarcus and Huff just might pan out after all, but I much rather would have been happier then, and much more now had we drafted Cutler and calvin Johnson, i know, just sayin.

  • dikembesaysno

    Any reason we don’t get JLH involved in the passing game more? I realize he’s not the most cerebral guy, but he should be able to separate from corners.

    Charley,

    Fair enough…

  • S&B – Nation Collective

    Look, even if Crabtree knew about the cocaine dealer, are you expecting him to turn in his teammate to the authorities. In the middle of a potential championship season. Little unrealistic if u ask me.

    Maybe he requests a transfer to another house or they kick the drug dealing teammate out.

    But you are assuming that Crabtree knew about everything that was happening. I would need more information.

    Crabtree will be fine and I am sure that everyone has been in uncomfortable situations (maybe not as extreme as cocaine dealing) where one decision or just plain luck prevented serious personal trouble

  • http://www.shooma.com Skloomsh

    # MR (Now worried about Brien) Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Clem Daniels and Todd Christensen…LOL. Guess Skloomsh doesn’t have any examples from THIS millennium.
    *******************************************

    The point is/was that having players change positions isn’t necessarily a bad idea. I suppose it depends how things work out in the end. As far as examples from THIS millennium, there’ve been a few, some more successful than others, but I don’t really feel like playing that game with you. Look them up for yourself.

  • RaiderRockstar

    NEW POST !!!

  • dikembesaysno

    S&B,

    How unrealistic should it be for an athlete to make the right decision as a human being? That kind of logic perpetuates the concept that they are above the law and adhere to their own rules. I really don’t know the details of the Sanders situation, but thought I would give my two cents on that point.

  • Roch Romanson

    On the penalty issue, I believe its a matter of history and created expectation, for too long the Raiders have suffered from mental lapses, and subsequent penalties, that now the zebras expect it, watch for it, and call it.

    Many on the penalties called, some may call questionable, and I point to the Howard penalties in Denver, however the Raiders as a franchise have set the tone, so I ask who do you blame. But that does not account for the many mental mistakes, and bad conditioning calls that the Raiders take.

    I really have to question the conditioning of the team in general. But is that a function of the environment? 6 losing seasons, makes it difficult to ask players for the highest level of commitment, but millions of $$ definitely makes a strong arguement.

    Fact is this team has talent, but there’s sooo much baggage that they make it harder than it needs to be. I can’t help but get a chuckle out of Marty Schottenhiemers quote “Keep it close and let the Raiders beat themselves” sometimes I can’t help but think that no truer words have ever been spoken.

    But we have potential and young talent that should step in to leadership roles, but they need to gut-check themselves, and ask if they are willing to lead by example, or simply provide soundbytes for the media. And those players know who they are. The best part of adversity is that it allows the opportunity to play through it.

    But the many talented players on this team need to decide how they want their careers marked… as the worst stretch in NFL franchise history (72 losses over 6 seasons or something crazy like that?) Or those that rose from the ashes to greatness…or at least respectability.

    The ATL game was a disturbing sign, and even worse was the follow up in Denver which simply proved that this team can decide to be great, I don’t know which is worse, being bad, or being bad by choice…

    With all my heart, with Silver and Black in my veins, and only because I can’t be on the field, I hope our players, our Raiders, begin to decide to be a good football team, and its obvious is that they are the ones that can choose…

  • http://cctimes raiderhomey

    Okay Kell, here’s your answer. Al Davis does’nt give a $hit about penalties. “Just Win Baby” worked very well when we had 6 or 8 probowlers on the roster, that just ain’t no mo. The reason is simple, pi$$-poor conditioning, drafting dumb fast players, instead of football players, and not working their a$$es off in practice. The result is the players don’t respect the coaches, the coaches no that Al “muther hens” the players, and we the fans suffer thinking that we are still fielding a competitive, well coached team, and the exact opposite is true. Until somebody with “old” Raider blood is brought in to right the ship, we will continue to be rudderless on the field. A shing example of that just occurred these last two weeks, we go into Denver reeling, a heavy underdog, and kick their a$$es up and down the field all day. even tho we did’nt sack Cutler once, they were in his face, throwin his sorry a$$ to the turf repeatedly, and the result was a lopsided victory. The very next week at home against a weak and poorly coached Chief team, jamarcus and co. went back to their pop-warner style of play, and we loose an ugly game albeit the freakin fake field goal. My point here is, the Raiders have no concept on momentum, continuity, disapline, or knowledge of what they are supposed to represent when they put on that storied uniform. Al got it right for a long, long time, but your simply cannot micro-manage a billion dollar entity like it is still a 50 thosand dollar pop-sicle stand. Until he brings back either Madden, Flores, Tim Brown, Gannon and the likes, we will continue to be mediocre at best, and the way we’ve been lately at worst. Now how’s that for some astute type $hit ther kell-ster.

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