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

    LMN

    altho it feels like cheating it is perfectly acceptable to root for a rival when it will benefit the greater good of your team…

    Still feels weird tho… :P

  • Andrews Mom

    I think Cable was guilty of trying too hard in the KC game and I suspect he will learn from that if given time.

  • Cable’s Middle Tit

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

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

    Either does his left tit.

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

    Gotta run! Ufck the chokers!

    1 NATION!

  • http://www.msn.com Debbie

    LMN- lol

  • Brien(I♥MyDreads)

    La Milicia Negra Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 10:39 am
    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.. =)

    Well since you won’t send me a Greek grass fairy, could you send me one of those FCK grass fairy’s? ♥

  • Cable’s Left Tit

    Andy’s mom-

    Agreed, all I want for xmas is a new O line! I just dont see how keeping three good backs is going to help us out next year.

  • vegas raider

    You mean 3 AVERAGE backs Left Tit? None of our backs would be considered “good” in NFL circles.

  • Cable in Deep

    Don’t worry fellasm me and Seabass are gonna down a bottle of Vodka before the game. Wait until you see the trick play we’re gonna run tonight!

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

    # 408RAIDER Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 10:44 am

    LMN

    altho it feels like cheating it is perfectly acceptable to root for a rival when it will benefit the greater good of your team…

    Still feels weird tho… :P
    ____________________________________________________

    LOL, yeah… and thanks =).. at least even if they win tonight i have a few more days to mock them about us being #1 and then #3 =)

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

    Brien you can have them all =)

  • S&B – Nation Collective

    The Raiders won’t win the game unless the coaching staff dedicates itself to getting playmakers the ball. DMAC should get 15 to 20 carries, period. The guy is a top 5 draft pick and an explosive back. Yet the Raiders use him as often as fine china during the holidays.

    Its all ridiculous. This coaching staff has to go, offense and defense.

    Will Michael Bush get the ball on short yardage situations? Or is Cable playing bullsh*t games with him?

    The Raiders should be running and throwing off of playaction. Will this coach still insist on being a pass-first team?

    I just don’t know. But I will watch.

    Oh, and Rob Ryan. Will he make adjustments during the game? Will we see another 4th QTR meltdown?

    Sigh…..

  • http://www.shooma.com Skloomsh

    If it came down to a tie between San Diego and Denver, the Chargers would win the tiebreaker, having a better record within the division. I’m not saying it’s likely to happen, but I AM saying that I highly doubt they’ve given up yet. It’s not that far-fetched to envision the Chargers playing the Broncos in the last game of the season, winner take all.

  • RaiderRockstar

    it’s only good to have 3 solid RB’s when:

    A. you have injuries at Rb

    or

    B. you take a RB by committee approach

    Cable doesn’t like a committee approach because none of the RB’s “get a feel for the game” and all 3 backs are healthy, so don’t expect to see much of Bush tonight unless he decides to play some FB. McFadden isn’t getting 20+ carries either unless Fargas gets injured. so even though the recipe for beating the Chargers might be thunder & lightning, we’ll going to use crash instead and hope Russell doesn’t have another game like last week.

  • Brien(I♥MyDreads)

    La Milicia Negra Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 11:01 am
    Brien you can have them all =)

    I knew you wouldn’t let me down LMN. I shaved my pubies you know? ♥

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    They Red-Shirted Bush last year, as he insisted he was healthy. Now he’s in Davis’ doghouse for not embracing a demotion to FullBack.

  • dikembesaysno

    Offensively, we need to score touchdowns, PERIOD.

    Defensively, we need to contain LT and put pressure on Rivers, the WHOLE GAME.

    Pretty basic stuff, but then again its the Raiders.

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Hey Brien,

    Did you polish your Gold Teefs for tonites game, or are they just for courtin?

  • S&B – Nation Collective

    RaiderRockstar,

    Your post 264 is exactly the reason why Cable is a terrible head coach. Use the weapons at your disposal. Understand team strengths. Only the Raiders play games with a top 5 pick. Forcing a pass first mentality with no receivers and a struggling QB.

    Al Davis had better think carefully about his next coaching hire. Very carefully.

    The coaching this year, (Kiffin, Cable and Ryan) has made this a lost season. If we had competent coaches this team would be in the playoff hunt.

    I guess as long as Al Davis is happy

    I AM SO SICK & TIRED OF LOSING AND MISSING PLAYOFFS APPEARANCES….SICK & TIRED OF 6 YEARS OF THIS STUFF!

  • vegas raider

    #263: True except if you watched the Chargers last week, they played so desperately, going for fourth downs, fake punts and such, that I think they left everything on the field.

  • RaiderRockstar

    S&B:

    the o-line and defense have been solid the last 2 weeks. Cable & Russell have been good one week and terrible the next. Last time we played the Chargers, the defense let us down. Despite 4 sacks and 2 interceptions on Rivers, allowing 3 TD’s in the 4th quarter is not acceptable. I think we’ll be better this time. the offense has to hold up it’s end of the bargain – that means Cable & Russell. Who knows which duo we’ll see this week?

  • vegas raider

    Kool: How is PLAYING as a FB, as opposed to SITTING as a RB, a demotion?

  • S&B – Nation Collective

    RaiderRockstar,

    The defense should be “ok” as long as the d-line man’s up. Its the offense that has me concerned again. Here is my message to Cable:

    1. Run Fargas between tackles – 15 carries
    2. Run DMAC outside and screens – 20 touches
    3. Run Bush on any 2nd or 3rd & 3 or less and in the red zone – 5 to 10 carriers

    Pretty simple if you ask me!

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Vegas, what Mr Davis generally doesn’t understand, is that Players polish their skills over a number of years. Growing up and in College. That’s why they’re good at what they’re good at. To suddenly do something else is not putting that player in the best position to contribute and put his skills to good use, or to have an acceptable career.

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

    # Brien(I♥MyDreads) Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 11:05 am

    La Milicia Negra Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 11:01 am
    Brien you can have them all =)

    I knew you wouldn’t let me down LMN. I shaved my pubies you know? ♥
    _________________________________________________

    aha TMI…. but the FCK players will suit you then =)

  • dikembesaysno

    273, S&B,

    You forgot, SCORE TOUCHDOWNS!!!

  • S&B – Nation Collective

    dikembesaysno Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 11:21 am
    273, S&B,

    You forgot, SCORE TOUCHDOWNS!!!
    ===============================================
    LOL….Let’s take this one step at a time!

  • vegas raider

    Kool: I get that he is probably a better RB than FB, but I really wanted the kid, who hasn’t played much football the last 3 years, to relish the opportunity to get on the field. He made excuses and showed a “me-first” attitude than won’t fly in the NFL long-term.

  • dikembesaysno

    It’s plain and simple, they will lose if they don’t get into the end zone. This team is not designed to come from behind. We need to hope we can put up some points and hope that we can hold the lead until the clock says 0:00.

  • http://none MR (Now worried about Brien)

    This thing with Bush is obvious. He’s a Kiffin guy. He’s not a Davis guy. I think the same thing is going on with Nnamdi, to be frank. I’ll bet any of you a donut that either B. Allen or some other exec wanted Asomugha. Aso is Al’s type of cornerback, no doubt. But why does he not secure him? I think Al wanted another cb, and got into a clash of wits with Allen or someone. Nothing else explains Al not giving him a long term contract. Long story short, he just can’t stand to see a guy that was picked by one of his underlings become the best in the game at his position. Al Davis is not about winning anymore. He just wants to be right. That’s the root of every problem this team has right now.

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    To get on the field and do what? something he’s not good at. Devalue himself?

    They’ve told us time and time again, Sports is a business.

  • S&B – Nation Collective

    Vegas Raider,

    Speaking of Bush, what happened to using him as the short yardage back? How many times did this team get into the red zone and fail on short yardage? Bush can also catch the ball, why isn’t Bush the Red Zone Back?

    Cable is a terrible game manager!

  • http://none MR (Now worried about Brien)

    LOL. You guys are watching the game tonight? Raiders are playing for the draft now, guys. Preseason games mean more.

  • RaiderRockstar

    S&B: my message to Cable this week would be:

    1. Run Fargas between tackles – 15 carries
    2. Run DMAC outside and screens – 20 touches
    3. Get Bush involved by lining him up as a FB, but not as a run blocker or pass protector. Get the ball in his hands as a passer by handoff or direct snap. Also as a receiver out of the backfield. This way Bush looks like a FB, but doesn’t act as one.

    4. TAKE THE POINTS !!!

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Why would any heralded player put his career in Al Davis’ hands?

  • Brien(I♥MyDreads)

    KoolKell Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 11:09 am
    Hey Brien,

    Did you polish your Gold Teefs for tonites game, or are they just for courtin?

    SUP, KK? You know I polish them up for the games bro!

  • http://none MR (Now worried about Brien)

    Just a question…when the Raiders are trying to lose games, like they will be tonight, what do you guys watch for? Comedy? Kind of like watching a sports bloopers video, or whatever? …Don’t tell me there’s still a few of you that think the Raiders are actually trying to win tonight. Sad..

  • dikembesaysno

    Let’s line up Justin Miller in the wildcat…he has speed.

  • S&B – Nation Collective

    RaiderRockstar Post 284,

    Agreed! Especially on point 4. I like your point 3. In fact, one could merge both of our point 3s and have something interesting. I bet Bush wouldn’t mind being a fullback if he got carries and catches out of it.

    In fact, I have to challenge Cable’s definition of creativity. To me creativity is having Bush as a FB on 1 and 10 and run a short screen to the fullback. Going fullhouse backfield and throwing. Creativity is not running fake field goals and going for it on 4th & 3.

    I have to give Davis credit for having some playmakers on the roster. I think the running backs could have carried this team to the playoffs. Unfortunately the coaches are underutilizing their skills and talents.

  • http://none MR (Now worried about Brien)

    I will watch tonight just to see how bad Cable’s playcalling can get when he’s actually trying to lose, considering how bad it is when he’s trying to win. It should be something else.

  • vegas raider

    KoolKell Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 11:28 am
    To get on the field and do what? something he’s not good at. Devalue himself?

    How about to get on the field and play football. Is he not a football player unless he has the ball in his hands?

    S&B: He is best in space and catching passes, like Mcfadden, and that’s why he hasn’t been used much in short-yardage. Jerry has talked about how he doesn’t plow ahead much for a 240 LB dude. I would like to see him more, but in the last four games he is averaging a whole 2 yards a carry. That doesn’t scream for more PT.

  • http://none MR (Now worried about Brien)

    Horrible news broke today from Raiders headquarters:

    Davis is still in charge.

    It’s official.

  • http://www.shooma.com Skloomsh

    # KoolKell Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Vegas, what Mr Davis generally doesn’t understand, is that Players polish their skills over a number of years. Growing up and in College. That’s why they’re good at what they’re good at. To suddenly do something else is not putting that player in the best position to contribute and put his skills to good use, or to have an acceptable career.
    *************************************

    So I suppose he should have left Clem Daniels and Todd Christensen alone, then?

  • vegas raider

    MR: The raiders aren’t good to enough to transition from playing to win and playing to lose. They just play, and not very well sometimes. We are all watching to see the development of the young guys

  • http://none MR (Now worried about Brien)

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

  • S&B – Nation Collective

    Vegas Raider,

    But if you put Bush in as a fullback then you have more options on short yardage. Lawton is no player, can’t block, catch or do anything. Why not run Bush at FB on short yardage? Why not have Bush and DMAC in the backfield and send both out on the pass. The Raiders have two pass catching running backs and don’t use them.

    Could you imagine what Gruden could do with this backfield?

  • vegas raider

    Nmamdi was a college safety, that worked out OK so far.

  • http://none MR (Now worried about Brien)

    Vegas Raider, why will you be watching to see the development of the young guys, when the team will be trying to lose? How do players develop when a coach is intentionally trying to blow a game? Explain that to me.

  • Andrews Mom

    Kiff “benched” Bush last year and Mike was not happy about it.

  • http://none MR (Now worried about Brien)

    S&B Collective, stop bringing up Gruden. Get over him. Only the Davis loyalists are allowed to bring up the past.