The upcoming 2009 season has consumed my thoughts. The one guy on the Raiders' squad who I sincerely believe is on the cusp of stardom is running back Darren McFadden. In his rookie campaign, Run DMc gave the Nation a brief glimpse of his talent in game #2 at Kansas City. In this early season contest, McFadden demonstrated his big play ability, breakaway speed, and dynamic playmaking skills. Of course, as we all know, late in the game he suffered his first turf toe injury and he simply wasn't the same player for the remainder of the season. Although he battled 2 turf toe injuries and played fairly well at less than 100%, his inconsistent reps. prevented him from getting in a true rhythm.
Going into the 2009 season, these are the numbers I project for #20:
Based on the Raiders getting approximately 60 offensive snaps per game, I predict the Raiders will run the ball about 33 times per game (33 runs to 27 passes or a 55% to 45% run pass ration).
With McFadden as the lead back, I'm guessing that he will get 288 carries for the season (18 rush attempts per game average which is 55% of the rushing load).
Since the Raiders passing attack is a work in progress with the development of Russell and some of the younger WRs (DHB, Murphy, Schillens, JLH), I would anticipate McFadden being an integral weapon in the passing playbook. Split out wide, set in motion, circling out of the backfield, delayed screens are some of the ways the Raiders will utilize McFadden's skills and to create favorable matchups. A conservative estimate of the number of balls thrown to McFadden should fall in the range of 3-6 per game.
Number Crunching / Predictions:
Rush Attempts Per Game: 18
Rush Attempts Season: 288
Yards per carry: 4.5
Total Rushing Yards: 1,296 yards
Rushing TDs: 6
Yards per reception: 9.0
Total reception yards: 586
Receiving TDs: 4
Total TDs: 10
Total Yards: 1,882
To top it off, I expect McFadden to have 2-4 pass attempts out of the wild cat formation. There is no doubt in my mind that the Raiders coaching staff needs to use McFadden in a variety of creative ways to be the engine to the offense. Mixing and matching the RBs, using different formations and sets, and forcing the opponent to account for McFadden are some of the keys to a successful season. I'm really excited about the Raiders developing their core skill players on offense. The Raiders 2009 offense has the potential to become a special unit and McFadden is the fulcrum for making it a reality. I don't discount the fact that Russell needs to play an instrumental role in the offense's success. Yet, I firmly believe that the dynamic playmaking ability of McFadden will make Russell's transition into a franchise type QB that much easier.