Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders tries to avoid being tackled by the San Diego Chargers during their season opener
When we saw Darren McFadden trying to push it into the end zone in the preseason, it seemed strange. But according the offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp, the Raiders plans were for McFadden to be their every down back. And we didn't know just how serious they were.
Darren McFadden saw 33 out of 64 offensive plays in this game which means he was either the ball carrier or the target more times than the rest of his teammates combined.
"You never know what to expect when you run into a football game, whether you're going to get it this many times or however. We roll with the flow of the game...
That flow just kept rolling to McFadden time and time again.
Prior to this game, McFadden's career high in receptions in a game was seven. He passed that number in the first half alone and finished with 13 catches on the day. That is one catch away from a Raiders single game record which was set by Tim Brown in the 1997 season finale.
He was actually targeted in the passing game more than he carried the ball (18 to 15). The result was 86 yards through the air to 32 yards on the ground. McFadden wasn't sure but he said he didn't think that had ever happened before. But he's ok with it.
"However they decide to get it to me, whether it's running or catching, I'm fine with it either way."
But despite how many times he saw the ball, he still could never punch it in the endzone. It's the same problem the Raiders had in the preseason. When the Raiders get in the redzone or at the goal line, they can't punch it in.
McFadden is a lethal weapon, that much is known. But he is not a goal line or short yardage back. And his average of just over two yards per carry in this game is not going to get it done.
The offense as a whole going to him so often also proved to be to their detriment. The team was forced to punt (or attempt to punt) five times and settle for a field goal twice. They didn't get into the endzone until there was under a minute left in the game. It proved to be too little, too late.
This offense needs more than just McFadden to be successful. If the rest of the team would have been without big mistakes, he may have been enough to squeeze out a win. But things are never going to be so flawless that runs and short passes will get it done. Plus, they will run McFadden ragged and that's not good when you consider he has never last through an entire season without being lost to injury.
If the Raiders hope to win this season, they need some other weapons to present themselves. The second most targets in the passing game were to rookie Rod Streater. Of his ten targets, he caught just four and one of those he fumbled while trying to fight for extra yards. He also averaged just 6.8 yards per catch and dropped his one long ball target. The longest catch of the day went to tight end Brandon Myers for 26 yards and most of that was run after the catch.
Hopefully when Denarius Moore, Juron Criner, and Jacoby Ford (perhaps he should be an "if"), the passing game will pick up. Then the Raiders can use Darren McFadden more as RUNNING back as opposed to the greater portion of the receiving corps.