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Oakland Raiders 2013 Success Starts with Improved Running Game

May 7th, 2013 at 2:37 PM
By Nicholas Gill

The Oakland Raiders struggled to run the football in 2012. Some of the fault lies with former offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's zone blocking scheme. The players were unable to translate that scheme into production. The Raiders addressed both offensive line and running back in the 2013 NFL Draft because they know their success will depend on an improved rushing attack.

'MIA_vs_OAK_016' photo (c) 2012, June Rivera - license:

Darren McFadden makes the Oakland offense go. Despite his propensity for injury, the former first round draft choice is the engine of the offense. When McFadden rushed for more than 100 yards, the Raiders were 3-0 in 2012. However, Oakland was behind so often last season, it was difficult to establish the run. The main goal for new offensive coordinator Greg Olson will be to feature McFadden early and often. That will help whoever wins the starting quarterback spot between Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor, or Tyler Wilson to have some opportunities to make throws against a defense keying on McFadden.

McFadden's 3.3 yards per carry average was the worst of his five year career and the Raiders ranked 28th as a team with only 88.8 yards per game. McFadden also has yet to play more than 13 games in a season. Those issues cause legitimate concern, but he brings a skill set unique in the NFL. McFadden is not just speed and a homerun threat. He shows incredible power and toughness as a runner. He is a terrific pass catching threat out of the backfield. With these attributes, the Arkansas product has yet to scratch his potential.

The Raiders understand McFadden's strengths and shortcomings. This offseason, they bolstered an already talented offensive line with a second round selection in the draft. Menelik Watson has the combination of athleticism, speed, and power that should help Oakland's running game. He is a potential starter at right tackle this season and joins and offensive line of established starters in Jared Veldheer and Stefen Wisniewski. Reggie McKenzie drafted Tony Bergstrom to play guard last year in the third round and paid Mike Brisiel top dollar to solidify the other guard spot. That offensive line has no excuse not to open up holes for the Raiders best playmaker in 2013.

Tags: 2013 NFL Draft, Darren McFadden, Football, Jared Veldheer, Matt Flynn, Menelik Watson, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Stefen Wisniewski, Terrelle Pryor, Tyler Wilson

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