Raiders checklist #2
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Posted Jul 12, 2011

McFadden’s big year can’t be a McFluke Without question the single biggest reason the Raiders finished with their best record since 2002 was due to the emergence of running back Darren McFadden.

After two injury-slowed seasons, McFadden burst out of the gate and never let up, recording 1,157 yards that were good enough for the fifth-best single-season mark in franchise history.

It wasn’t just the yards that made McFadden a success. It was the way he got them. Though he is blessed with breakaway speed, McFadden frequently showed a surprising toughness while both bowling over defenders and finding his way into the end zone. McFadden also proved to be a capable receiver out of the backfield, which made him a frequent target of Oakland’s quarterbacks.

Jackson plans to pick up right where he left off, which means a steady dose of McFadden for defenses to digest. Duplicating, or even surpassing, what he accomplished in 2010 is paramount to the Raiders’ success during the impending season.

As good as Michael Bush is, he doesn’t have the moves or hands that McFadden does. Consider that teams didn’t have to worry about Oakland’s passing game much, especially early in the season, yet McFadden routinely shredded defenses with ease.

While rookie Taiwan Jones looks like he could be a nice addition in the backfield, but ­the Raiders know full well the success of their offense depends on the feet — and hands — of McFadden.

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