Is Marcel Reece a Better Option at Running Back Than Darren McFadden?

Without running back Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, the Oakland Raiders turned to versatile fullback Marcel Reece to handle the bulk of the rushing duties against the New Orleans Saints. Reece put up 103 rushing yards and added 90 more through the air in his second career start at running back. Reece’s performance rivaled McFadden’s best performances of 2012.

Reece not only performed, but he did so by executing the zone-blocking scheme that the Raiders want to use. The zone scheme has been much maligned as a poor fit for McFadden, and the Raiders chose to mix in man-blocking plays to try to get things going.

Reece’s performance begs the question: Is he a better option at running back than McFadden?

It seems ridiculous, right? Reece is a versatile fullback and McFadden is (or was) the most talented player on the team, but it’s hard to argue with the results. Of course, production in the running game is a combination of three factors: the running back, the offensive line and the opposing defense.

The Saints are one of the worst defenses in the entire NFL, and it’s reasonable to assume that Reece had one of the easier matchups of the entire season, but that doesn’t tell us how Reece or the offensive line performed and whether Reece is a more favorable option at running back than McFadden.


Example No. 1

When a run is successful or at least moderately successful, many assume the blocking was also successful. That’s not always the case. The running back can make defenders miss with their agility or use power to run over smaller defenders. Sometimes a successful run is entirely due to good blocking, and sometimes it’s entirely due to a good play by the running back.

Was it good blocking or good running by Reece that led to his big day? Let’s take a look.

On this play, the Raiders have seven bl...

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