Comparing Raiders 2012 vs 2013: Running back

Raiders running backs Latavius Murray, Darren McFadden, and Rashad Jennings at minicamp practice - Levi Damien

Did the Raiders improve at the running back position since last season?

The running back position for the Raiders looks very different overall this year than last year. So, let's take a look at how they stack up now and then.

2012: Darren McFadden, Mike Goodson, Jeremy Stewart, Taiwan Jones

2013: Darren McFadden, Rashad Jennings, Latavius Murray, Jeremy Stewart, Deonte Williams

Advantage: 2013

Obviously the top back is the same. Darren McFadden has headed into the season as the Raiders star back the past five seasons. Of those five seasons, he has only had one in which he put up big numbers. That season had two things in common for McFadden 1) He played the majority of the season (13) 2) they ran the power blocking scheme. The only other time he has played the majority of the season, the team ran a zone blocking scheme and he looked terrible. He has averaged 3.6 yards per carry in his career working in the zone blocking scheme and 5.3 yards per carry in the power blocking scheme. He may be the same person but he is a different running back in the power blocking scheme which the Raiders are going back to.

Last season the team had a great option as a backup in Mike Goodson. He averaged an astounding 6.3 yards per carry. The problem with Goodson is durability. That is the same issue McFadden has always had and it is bad news having two fragile backs as your one and two. Goodson was also an ideal fit for the zone so the team allowed him to walk as a free agent.

Replacing Goodson as the primary back will be Rashad Jennings who was a steady back behind Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville up until last season when he got hurt in the first week of the season and wasn't his usual self. Early in his career he was shaping up to be a player in free agency once his contract was up and would be due to be a starter for some team. Last season was a setback so he signed with the Raiders for one season to try and build up his value again.

Jennings will be competing with rookie Latavius Murray to be the first guy off the bench to spell Darren McFadden or take over should McFadden get injured again. The three of them are very similar in body type and running style. They are all bigger backs with upright running styles who have good speed but are very willing to run through tacklers to finish off a run.

Taiwan Jones was supposed to be the third back last season but the coaches didn't trust him to hold onto the ball. He got a total of 6 carries last season and fumbled one of them. He has since moved to cornerback to try and find his way.

Jeremy Stewart made the Raiders team mostly out of desperation (no offense to him. he played well last season) and it is much less likely this season that the team will be in that position again.

Overall you have McFadden in system he is most comfortable and two big strong backups in Jennings and Murray. It is a far better situation to be in at running back than they had coming into last season as well as midseason when injuries set in.


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