Darren McFadden's patience pays off

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
10:47
PM ET
OAKLAND, Calif. -- You already knew that Darren McFadden was explosive. It’s his patience level that has been in question the past few years.

So how was a “down-hill” running back as instinctive as McFadden going to fare in an offense that relied on him running into the line time and again with the hope that a hole would suddenly pop open?

After his performance Sunday in the Raiders’ 19-9 defeat of Jacksonville, he's just fine, thank you very much.

[+] EnlargeDarren McFadden
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsDarren McFadden, who rushed for 129 yards, had his biggest single-day rushing total since Week 3 of 2011.
“You have to just keep sticking with it,” said McFadden, who rushed for a game-high 129 yards, on 19 carries. “We have the type of offense you get one or two yards here and there and then eventually you’re going to start popping big runs.

“So it’s something that, as a running back, you just have to know.”

And now, the Jaguars know all too well.

Consider: It was McFadden’s highest rushing total since he went for 171 yards against the New York Jets on Sept. 25, 2011.

It was also the 13th 100-yard rushing game of his career and the Raiders are now 13-2 when he hits the century mark.

Then there was this: McFadden made his bones against the Jaguars with runs of 30, 28, 26 and 24 yards. Take away those long runs, and McFadden had just 21 yards on 15 carries (1.4-yard average).

So if you’re McFadden, you have to believe something has to give, right?

Especially after he averaged just 2.8 yards last week in Indianapolis -- where he had a long run of just 9 yards -- and a career-low average of 3.3 yards last season.

It’s the Raiders' offensive game plan, and it’s more important when quarterback Terrelle Pryor is having a rough go.

“I think Darren had a good day, with the exception of the fumble there at the end of the game; that’s something that can’t happen,” said Raiders coach Dennis Allen, referring to McFadden losing the ball at the end of his 26-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.

“He knows that. But I thought he was able to run the ball effectively .... We had a couple opportunities to get him on the safety and we had some big gainers.”

A year ago, McFadden was lost in Oakland’s ill-advised zone blocking scheme. It was perhaps Allen’s biggest miscue as a rookie head coach, changing an offensive scheme that had McFadden playing at a league MVP level the previous year before a Lisfranc injury ended his season.

Now, McFadden is being asked to settle for short gains and be a decoy for Pryor in the zone-read option with the purported promise of long runs.

“That one when I was going towards the Black Hole, I should have took it all the way,” McFadden said with a grin of his 24-yarder in the second quarter. “But I tried to cut back one time. But that’s part of the game. You make reads when you’re on the field and then you feel like you should have did something different.”

Yeah, it takes patience. And not just on McFadden’s part.

Besides McFadden’s four long runs, Pryor had a 27-yard gain and Rashad Jennings added a 28 yarder while Marcel Reece had an 11-yard touchdown run. Take away those seven plays, and the Raiders had 52 rushing yards on 27 carries, a 1.9-yards average.

Patience? That and trust in an oft-injured running back who has never played more than 13 games.

“Coaches have a lot of faith in me,” McFadden said. “They want to put the ball in my hands and let me run with it. I have to give credit to the offensive line, they did a great job today and (we executed) our game plan from the beginning to the end.”

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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