Part of the Bay Area News Group

Time to turn McFadden loose

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 at 1:41 pm in Oakland Raiders.

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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  • vegas raider

    The reason Bush doesn’t play as much, is he hasn’t performed when called upon. Take away the KC game, when he lost a fumble in the 4th quarter by the way, he has literally done nothing. I know it’s hard to show a lot on a few carries, but that’s life as a back-up RB, you got to excel when called upon. The juror is still out if he is a legit NFL RB.

  • http://view.playlist.com/12942502411/standalone La Milicia Negra

    # Cable’s Right Tit Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 9:30 am

    LMN SAID “I like his attitude, it shows s, he is ere to play… here to play RB!!. he reminds me of Jerome Bettis, he showed people wring, but it took a man like Cowher to defend him.. we have no-one in our organization with that amount of backbone..”

    That comment alone shows that you don’t know half as much as you think you do. Anyone who is given an opportunity to play and declines isn’t here for the team (period)
    _________________________________________________-_

    well aha?

    Jerome Bettis said the same and when given the opportunity to play RB he gave it all back.. he stayed with the team for a long time… its simply not an attitude problem… it has more to do with where and what there mind set is… FB are a weird breed, they play for others success, RB plays for their own and the team of course.. same as o-line men, when they hear their name its not because they did something good its because they did something bad..

    you simply can’t change the mindset and if we/he do/does he can never turn back to be a real RB because that mindset is long gone then..

  • RaiderRockstar

    LMN,

    if Michael Bush is Jerome Bettis, Jamarcus Russell is Steve McNair. Bettis & McNair are proven, Russell & Bush are not … when you haven’t proven anything, you need to do what you’re told. Does Nnamdi play safety on occasion? did you see him matched up with Tony G last week? I did. The Raiders don’t need players like Jerry Porter & Bush. They need players like Asomugha and Gallery. Team players who do what the coaches tell them and don’t complain. If your boss at work asks you to do something that’s not your specialty or not in your job description, what do you tell him? You do it, thats what they pay you for!

  • Cable’s Left Tit

    Lmn-

    Now your saying that Fargas can be a FB and Bush can’t?

    Wow, keep digging.

    Have you ever even played American Football?

  • Cable’s Left Tit

    rockstar-

    What the heck is wrong with these people?

  • CRANK SMOKER

    WHAT LEVEL field plaza club nose bleed?

  • Cable’s Left Tit

    Let’s see if a RB plays FB only when needed to then he can never go back to RB.

    I’m not following you.

  • Cable’s Right Tit

    so you think it’s a bad thing to have Bush and Dmac on the field together?

  • RaiderRockstar

    well said vegas #201 … did you see the Raiders running game improve when Fargas was out with injury? McFadden was also hurt. Fargas was running well before the groin injury in that Chiefs game. after our first 2 options at RB went down, we were left with Bush and he did nothing.

  • http://view.playlist.com/12165303563/standalone 408RAIDER

    Sup NATION…

    Ufck the chokers!

  • Cable’s Right Tit

    We need some fools with some killer instinct!

  • http://www.shooma.com Skloomsh

    Anybody have any suggestions on how to watch tonight’s game on the internet? Effing NFL network.

  • RaiderRockstar

    “I know it would be significant to the players that have been around for a while,” interim coach Tom Cable said. “I’ve actually heard them talk about that scenario … and how important that would be to them.”

    “You try not to look back at what’s happened in the past,” said running back Justin Fargas, who returned five kickoffs in the Raiders’ 2003 win over the Chargers. “It’s a new team, and we’re just trying to find a way to win this game and let the things that happened in the past be gone.”

    Fargas was a rookie in 2003 as was cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. The two have won only five division games in six seasons.

    “You want to win every game, especially against your division opponents, there’s a little extra incentive,” Fargas said. “The Chargers, we haven’t beat them in so long, I think it would be a good thing for this team to go down to their house and get a win.”

    ***

    the players are ready for tonight.

  • http://view.playlist.com/12165303563/standalone 408RAIDER

    Tonight’s game is gonna be awesome I have that feeling again!

  • http://www.shooma.com Skloomsh

    As far as the Bush situation goes, I have to admit I haven’t been overly impressed with what I’ve seen of the guy BUT I also believe he deserves a shot at running back. He MIGHT be something special; we KNOW Fargas isn’t. Fargas is a good guy to have on the team but they shouldn’t keep giving him the ball because he’s been here the longest.

  • Cable’s Left Tit

    I got a good feeling too 408, especially since we are stronger then we were the first time we played em’, plus hopefully that loss we took last week woke some of these mofo’s up! We had these guys dead to rights week 4, I could be wrong but it seemed like Kiff knew he was gone and he was trying to prove a point, I think that is why we lost the game. I hope Cable is smart enought not to try another 70+ yrd. fg.

  • http://view.playlist.com/12165303563/standalone 408RAIDER

    Im a Bush guy but I think he’s acting like a lil b!tch in regards to playing HB…

  • vegas raider

    Rockstar: Fargas has been our most consistent back, but I really feel that he excels at exploiting small cracks in the line for 4-8 yards and doesn’t do well in space. Just look at his fumble, could you imagine if Peterson or Lynch or name your other quality NFL back were to go untouched for the first 7 yards past the line of scrimmage? They would get 20+ yards ; he fumbled when a guy barely touched him. I want to see McSkinny more in space, but he isn’t breaking any tackles either. That’s our problem, our RB’s don’t break any tackles.

  • http://view.playlist.com/12165303563/standalone 408RAIDER

    I hope Cable is smart enough to stick with the running game…

  • Cable’s Left Tit

    I got a feeling that Philip “cry me a” Rivers is going to go down hurt tonight.

  • vegas raider

    We should be better off this go-round because the Dolts have nothing to play for, and we know all to well how Norv Turner coached teams play when they have nothing to play for.

  • Andrews Mom

    #196 Rockstar

    Its hard to convince most here that Fargas is starting because he is a better RB then thunder & lightning.
    They simply do not understand theres more to it taking the handoff and taking it to the yard.
    Especially when you have a inexperianced QB who is having trouble running the offense.

  • RaiderRockstar

    This will be a showdown of teams closer to the bottom of the heap than the top. The Raiders (3-9) can catch the Chargers if they can pull off an upset.

    Running behind a line that’s had a startling dropoff, Tomlinson was held to 24 yards by the Falcons, the second-lowest total in his eight-year career.

    “In this situation, we are both two struggling teams, so it’s not even fair to talk about a rivalry because we are struggling,” Tomlinson said.

  • http://view.playlist.com/12165303563/standalone 408RAIDER

    Andrews Mom

    Fargas starts because he’s the best in pass protection…

  • vegas raider

    I’m with you Andrew’s Mom; after the preseason people in here were ready to put Bush in the Hall of Fame. He reminds me of the great Nick Bell, and he lasted three years in the league

  • Andrews Mom

    Having said that I believe JR will have his breakout game tonight.
    250+ yards 2 touchdowns

    And I bet Dmac puts on a show as well.
    Its all Raiders tonight. Some of the posters here will be super happy campers, such as myself.

    Little Tits will gain abouut 60 yards.

  • http://view.playlist.com/12942502411/standalone La Milicia Negra

    RRS…

    “Does Nnamdi play safety on occasion? did you see him matched up with Tony G last week?”

    and how did that go, Tony b!tchslapped Nnamdi all game..

    the only thing Huff had success with was covering TE’s.. now we played one of the best, do we use him? NO, tonight we will meet the best, will we use Huff? no, luckily Norv has effed his team up so Gates only gets 2-3 passes his way per game

  • RaiderRockstar

    The Raiders currently have more wins than the Lions, Rams, Seahawks, Bengals & Chiefs. Plus the 4 win Browns have Dorsey & Gradkowski at QB for the rest of the season. The Raiders might not have a TOP 5 DRAFT PICK !!!

    YES !!!

  • Cable’s Middle Tit

    I don’t think the right tit knows what the left tit is talking about.

  • http://view.playlist.com/12165303563/standalone 408RAIDER

    Hey the custodian dude @ my daughters school rocks his Raider gear all the time.. He was wearing a hat and a cool shirt 2 day… I was Like Go RAIDERS! He just gave me that look you know the 1 that says I know we suk but its RAIDER NATION 4 LIFE!

  • http://view.playlist.com/12942502411/standalone La Milicia Negra

    Cable’s Left Tit Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Lmn-

    Now your saying that Fargas can be a FB and Bush can’t?
    ______________________________________________________

    exactly.. you said you have been watching Louisville games, have you noticed Bush can’t protect the QB? (McFadden can’t either for that matter) I assume you’ve watched our games, have you oticed Bushcan’t protect our QB’s??

    okay, if you have, then look at Fargas, he protects way better.. Im not saying fargas can be a good FB all I’m saying Fargas would be helluva lot better than Bush at FB..

  • vegas raider

    Tonight might be the only game on the schedule this year where the coaching matchup is even. You could say it was even the first time we played each other, except one coach decided to waste time to setup a 76 yard FG attempt and also throw a screen pass with a 15-3 lead, in the opponents territory on first down. (turned into a pick) Still fired up about that one

    GO RAIDERS

  • i want half eddie!

    Lets hope we’re competitive tonight. If the offense finally shows up we have a chance. If they blitz the living bejesus out of us my money is on Kwami breaking the offsides record tonight.

  • Cable’s Left Tit

    I wouldn’t expect anything more from LT. He’s as bad as Rivers.

    Andrews mom-

    Although I agree that Fargas is our most experienced RB, he only has one touchdown this year and it is pretty late in the year. We have seen what he can do, I think most people just want to see what the future holds, I like Fargy’s heart but I think that Dmac will be 10 times the runner that Fargy is today. I like him and all I think it is just time to move on. I mean he has been here awhile and last year was the first year that he really ever did anything. I think that his experience, heart, loyalty and last years performance is the reason he is starting. Not that those are wrong reasons for him to be the starter.

    I respect your opinion and enjoy your posts, I’m in here alot but now I’m posting under my new name to protest until we win or Cable is back to doing the O line work.

  • http://view.playlist.com/12165303563/standalone 408RAIDER

    LMN

    no isht! Last week I was screaming put Huff on gonzalles! I dont think Cable heard me from the 3rd deck tho…

  • http://view.playlist.com/12942502411/standalone La Milicia Negra

    # 408RAIDER Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Hey the custodian dude @ my daughters school rocks his Raider gear all the time.. He was wearing a hat and a cool shirt 2 day… I was Like Go RAIDERS! He just gave me that look you know the 1 that says I know we suk but its RAIDER NATION 4 LIFE!
    ____________________________________________________

    lol, great! i had somewhat the same experience a week ago or so, remember there are not that many football fans in the daily picture, but I noticed one across the street, he apparently noticed me, and when we later meat at the supermarket, he tipped his cap, and I gave the nod =)

  • http://view.playlist.com/12942502411/standalone La Milicia Negra

    408..

    but RRS knows better apparently :/

  • RaiderRockstar

    LMN,

    we didn’t lose that chefs game because of the Tony/Nnamdi matchup… we lost it because Cable denied 6 easy points and gave away 7 on two 4th down plays.

    Zach Miller has more receiving yards and yards per catch than Gates at this point in the season.

  • http://www.shooma.com Skloomsh

    # vegas raider Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 10:15 am

    We should be better off this go-round because the Dolts have nothing to play for, and we know all to well how Norv Turner coached teams play when they have nothing to play for.
    *******************
    That’s not true, unfortunately. The Chargers will be fighting for their lives. They’re not out of it yet.

  • Cable’s Left Tit

    the left tit can’t even see the right tit.

  • Andrews Mom

    Fargas cant move the pile, Bush may be able to.

  • http://view.playlist.com/12165303563/standalone 408RAIDER

    RRS

    I see your point and agree about cables play calling ,but, Gonzalles was killing us and Huff has already proven he can shut Gonzoalles down so why the F didnt we put Huff on him? He was the only guy catching the ball BTW

  • Cable’s Left Tit

    408

    Because Cable doesn’t know what he’s doing.

  • http://view.playlist.com/12942502411/standalone La Milicia Negra

    RRS..

    so tony getting 110 yards had nothing to do with it?.. I agree cable effed up big time on trick plays on th down, but the big one was not letting Huff cover gonzales he has done it before…

  • http://view.playlist.com/12165303563/standalone 408RAIDER

    Cable’s Left Tit Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 10:35 am
    408

    Because Cable doesn’t know what he’s doing—
    ————

    Yeah and RR is head coach of the Defense!

  • http://view.playlist.com/12165303563/standalone 408RAIDER

    Where the F is TIM BROWN.. Remember he said he was going to talk to Big AL about coming on board to help right the ship? Well WTF where U @ Timmy????

  • http://view.playlist.com/12942502411/standalone La Milicia Negra

    408…

    im in a pickle here.. tonight the denver broncos of danish soccer FCK plays norways former grand team in the Uefa Cup..

    it has no influence on this years national tournament, and if FCK wins it means points to Denmark and we will be seeded better in international games in future seasons..

    So i have to root for one if the teams i hate the most tonight… weird situation.. =)

  • Andrews Mom

    Left tit
    I like the idea of using Dmac & Bush more since the season is lost. I guess Cable is coaching for his job.

    Another way to look at it is our two future star running backs are that much wiser but neither of them have much wear and tear on their bodies.

    Look out for next year. We will have lots of weapons when agent double O & Griffith return to open holes for thunder & lightning. I just hope JR geat a nice pocket for Christmas with a wide reciever and starts putting those bullets on target.

  • vegas raider

    #239: Chargers are done, they have to win the last four, and broncos go 1-3, and they Dolts still might lose the tiebreaker.

  • mcfaddenswaggon

    get dmac the ball