Wednesday, October 5, 2011

McFadden: Raiding the secondary

Darren McFadden is running wild in this 2011 NFL season, revving his motor in the Raider backfield before breaking to the wing and charging like a '64 Mustang. McFadden was always good - we knew this. But his transition to the NFL has been slow: his transmission, if you will, has gone from five to seven-speed in 2011.

McFadden turned up the turf and churned up the air against the New York Jets in Week 3, making a once stout defense look like the flag wavers at a Le Mans finale. The end result was 171 yards and two touchdowns. It also featured the longest dash of his career, a beautiful 71-yarder that saw the striding 6'2 Raider swing to the outside before flooring it in a series of brilliant bobs and weaves to the end zone.

Then, one week later, McFadden swept through the New England Patriots for 75 rushing yards and further 48 receiving. So in a single month of play, he has amassed 468 yards for a 6.2 yard average and three TDs. All of sudden, the Raiders have a back! - a rampaging and ruthless roadster that blazes across the pitch and turns a game on its head - something they've longed for since the days of Bo Jackson.

And McFadden isn't just any back: he's the type of runner that sees space and punches the gas, blasting into daylight like Andretti on the home stretch. It's that "next gear", as they say, which differentiates him from the plough horses and Clydesdales. In fact, McFadden's energy is more akin to a mustang: swift and untamed. But his technique is splendid: upright, pumping and purposeful. It's the sort of running we long for as fans but are so often under supplied. Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster break off these types of scampers, but somehow they haven't been as interesting lately. McFadden, by contrast, is grounding up the grass, and then bolting past the line, and Oakland's offense is immediately exciting.

With several of the NFL's worst rushing defenses to come, including Houston and Kansas City, there's potential for McFadden to log 1,500 yards this season. As Howard Cossell might have said: "He straightened, legs powering up to the mid-rift, and just like that, a silver and black blur left opposing defenders in a cloud of dust."

Article first published as McFadden: Raiding the Secondary on Technorati.

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