Do you remember in 2008 season? That season, The Raiders were one of the elite running teams in the league. One can say it was our runningbacks. Some say it was our offensive line. Some even say it was Justin Griffin. I say, it was Oren O'Neal.
Oren O' Neal was the key ingredient in our spicy running game. He was the catalyst in our reaction. His presence single handed changed our run game from mediocre in 2006 to elite in 2007.
I say this because this year, we got to experience our run game without the presence of O' Neal. Our offensive line was the same as it was the year before with the same coach and didn't succeed as much as it did with O' Neal. Our running back core improved from 2007 and yet we were still ranked significantly lower than the previous year with O' Neal. This takes offensive line and running backs out of the equation for our successful run game. Also, the other fullback, Justin Griffin can be taken out of the equation also because he was garbage in run blocking in 2008. However, he did do an okay job run blocking in 2007. That leaves us with our fullback Oren O' Neal.
Oren O' Neal was special to our running game:
- He helped Fargas get to 1,000 yards in just 7 starts.
- He helped Lamont Jordan get 549 yards.
- He also helped Dominic Rhodes get 302 yards in just 2 starts.
The best news of all of this post is the secret and key ingredient is returning this year once more to revitalize our run game. Can you imagine the enormous hole with D-Mac running through and taking it to the house. Or how about Michael Bush getting a block from O' Neal on one defender while exterminating the other with a shoulder right on the pad.
The running game has suffered for a year without his presence. It is about time he returns to lead the way back to the elite running game we had while he was our fullback.