Better Blocking the Big Key for Oakland Raiders Running Back McFadden

Through the first two weeks of the regular season, the Oakland Raiders have the most productive running game in the NFL. That’s no easy accomplishment when considering the state of the team’s passing attack and that defenses are coming into games with a clear emphasis on taking away the ground game. 

A large chunk of the running game’s success is due to quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Pryor’s ability to run the spread-option has made the Raiders more explosive offensively. His ability to run has made them far more difficult to defend.

Yet in this day and age of pass-heavy and option offenses, even a running back like Darren McFadden can still make a big impact on games.

McFadden was shut down for the most part against Indianapolis and got off to a slow start against the Jaguars before heating up.

The difference? Better blocking up front for starters.

Line coach Tony Sparano has had to really stress basics and fundamentals because two of the projected starters are on injured reserve, while a third is playing at a position he didn’t in 2012.

During one play against Jacksonville in the first quarter, the Raiders used a simple trap block call to spring McFadden for a 24-yard gain.

Oakland came out in a split-back set, and at the hike of the ball the Raiders offensive line took off toward the left while fullback Marcell Reece did a great job sealing off to the right. That created the perfect cutback lane, and McFadden burst through.

Oakland ran a similar play in the third quarter. In the same formation with split backs and quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the shotgun, the line pulled to its left at the start of the play, and Reece kicked out his block to the right. That opened another gaping hole, and McFadden burst through for a 30-yard gain.

Against Indianapolis in the opener the blocking was pretty vanilla, which is why McFadden strug...

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