Rashad Jennings Has Earned the Starting Job in Oakland

When the Oakland Raiders signed running back Rashad Jennings in the offseason, he was the logical backup to the oft-injured Darren McFadden. Being McFadden’s backup can be a rewarding job, as former Raiders Michael Bush and Mike Goodson can attest, but expectations were low for the former member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jennings was coming off a year in which he averaged just 2.8 yards per carry, and Oakland’s offense theoretically depended on McFadden being productive. The Raiders junked the full-time use of the zone-blocking scheme in the offseason with the hope that it would jump-start McFadden—Jennings was just free-agent filler.

Except Jennings has done a lot more than fill the roster. Jennings is impressively holding down the starting job and fulfilling the promised production of McFadden for a fraction of the cost.  

Lost in all the talk about Oakland’s quarterback situation and what to do with head coach Dennis Allen is the fact that Jennings will be making his second start over a relatively healthy McFadden and his seventh this season. While this is an indictment of McFadden, it also has a lot to do with the production of Jennings.

Jennings has been the total package for the Raiders—a productive runner, receiver and blocker. Few running backs in the NFL are productive at all three and fit the description of an every-down player.



Jennings is averaging 4.6 yards per carry on 149 attempts, eighth among qualifying running backs and tied with Adrian Peterson and C.J. Spiller. Jennings is also tied for the longest run of the year by a running back, with an 80-yard rumble in Week 11 in which he ran right through safety D.J. Swearinger.

Because he’s not particularly elusive, Jennings has gotten his yards the hard way—by running through defenders. Jennings is averaging 2.90 yards after contact according to ...

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