Saturday, September 06, 2008

Let's Ride

I always find it quite amusing and at times extremely annoying how a well paid journalist will use an outlandish, shocking prediction and purposely avoid common sense to back up his claims.

In this article, the scribe says in effect that Darren McFadden will be a "bust" in the NFL. Is it fair to call someone a "bust" before he has even taken a single snap in the NFL? That is debatable. Here are the 4 basic points the writer uses to give McFadden the very premature label of "bust":

(1) Don't be "blinded" by McFadden's production as a college player at Arkansas

(2) McFadden does not possess the lateral quickness, elusiveness and explosiveness to be an elite back in the NFL

(3) McFadden's 4.3 speed is merely "straight line speed" and in effect not a useful tool in the NFL

(4) McFadden plays the game with little physicality

Point 1:
I'm completely dumbfounded how the writer could totally discount McFadden's record of achievement (see link) in his 3 years at Arkansas. As a freshman he averaged 6.3 yards per carry and scored 11 TDs in 11 games. As a sophomore McFadden accumulated 1,647 yards on the ground and scored 14 TDs in 14 games. Last year, McFadden ran the ball for 1,830 yards and scored 16 TDs in 13 games. Over the course of his 3 year career at Arkansas, Run DMc rang up an amazing 4,590 yards rushing and rushed the ball for 41 TDs in 38 games.

What do these statistics show? It demonstrates a consistently high level of performance. The backdrop to these numbers is that Run DMc piled up these numbers against arguably the best defensive units in the entire country. The SEC is well known for having some of the most tenacious, athletic D's in the country. Teams like Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, and LSU are very formidable opponents.

Point 2:
It is important to point out that there are numerous attributes to a good RB in the NFL. Certainly, lateral quickness, elusiveness, and explosiveness are key traits. I would also include such attributes as toughness, speed, and instincts. My bone to pick with this writer is how did he determine and quantify that McFadden doesn't possess good lateral quickness, elusiveness, and explosiveness. He says he measured it by watching 8 games of McFadden on film.

Here are just a few opinions to ponder in relation to the above point. How does a player like McFadden rush the ball 32 times for 206 yards vs. LSU if he doesn't possess some of the above attributes? Did he do it with mirrors? Did the LSU D take the day off? Keep in mind that every Arkansas opponent was stacking the box to stop McFadden. How does a player like McFadden rip off 81 and 92 yard runs on kickoff returns without being able to explode and elude defenders?

Point 3:
It is completely asinine to say that speed doesn't matter in the NFL. Speed is one of the most important tools for a playmaker. It can be the difference between an 8 yard run and 60 yard scamper into the end zone. Of course speed alone doesn't equate to success in the NFL otherwise Usain Bolt would be signing a big fat contract. The fact that McFadden has exceptional speed (4.3) makes him especially dangerous when he turns the corner or gets into the second level of the defense. He has the type of speed that Raider fans truly believe that every time he touches the ball he could hit pay dirt.

Point 4:
This is just plain silly. To carry the ball 785 times in the SEC requires an RB to be both physical and extremely tough. McFadden was extremely effective in both short yardage packages and goal line plays. While putting up eye popping stats over the past 3 years, McFadden had to fight for many extra yards, take on defenders, stiff arm opponents, etc.

Will Run DMc become one of the elite backs in the NFL? Nobody knows. It would be foolish for me to predict McFadden's destiny before he has played a single game and with all of the unknown variables that will influence his career. Based on McFadden's physical tools, track record in college, and overall football instincts, all I can say at this point is "Let's Ride"!


Blogger nyraider said...

Didn't Marcus Allen have the same combination of deceptive speed and athleticism?

Oh well. I guess we'll just wait and see.

5:56 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

You know, it's the Catch 22 of everything. You cannot put all of your stock into what someone has done in college to equate it with Pro. But you cannot disregard it either.
Do you think that colleges disregard what a High School player does? No! They take it with a balance of skill level and potential. Just like the Pro level scouts look at the College arena as a balance of skill level and potential. High school lays a basic level of college ball. College ball adds more structure to the foundation that High School ball lays. Pro completes the structure set by High School and College. So if you can do certain things above those foundations/structures set in High School and College level, you are showing your ability to improve at those levels; as well as the ability that can benefit in the Pro-level.
As I posted on RT's site, it is all about understanding the basis of assignments. The assignments lingo may change, and the adjustment is with the coaching lingo being used, and understanding the assignments because more complexity is added. It is comparable to taking steps in school. You know, you start with basic math, and that moves forward to fractions, multiplication, and division. Then that moves up to Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Geometry. If you understand it well enough, you move to Pre-Calc, and Calculus. If you don't understand it well enough, you hit those in College. Then the "pro" of it is Trigonometry and so forth. But you will not understand Trig without the basis of the others.
McFadden understands what he needs to do to be successful at the Pro level. He has the tools to be successful at the Pro Level. To discredit that, is to discredit his foundation, and what he has proven at the foundation. You cannot do that.
Will it translate into success at the Pro Level? That is yet to be seen, but that is not the question. The question is, "Does he have the tools to be a great back at the Pro Level?" YES! I'm excited to see what he can do.

7:05 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Anybody who says that speed doesn't matter in the NFL should be required to watch Bo Jackson's 90 rookie TD run against Seattle, then write on a chalk board 1000 times, "Speed matters in the NFL. Speed matters in the NFL."

12:30 PM  

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