|The opposing view: Controlling Darren McFadden – ‘One of the best players in football’||10.01.11 at 9:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Last Sunday in Western New York, the Patriots were able to mostly hold Fred Jackson in check until his 38-yard catch from Ryan Fitzpatrick that set up the game-winning field goal in the closing seconds.
This week, the task figures to be even tougher as they go up against another big, physical back who again enters his game against the Patriots leading the NFL in rushing.
But while the Bills were a good running team who like the “spread” and “hurry-up” offensive attacks, the Raiders are a powerful team that loves to run the ball down your throat. Darren McFadden can kill you with his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame or he can turn on the burners like he did last week with a 70-yard TD run.
“Not everybody is built the same or does exactly the same, but we try to explain to our players what the other team does or what the other players do on the other team if they have a certain style or technique or something like that,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked how they plan to try and bring down McFadden. “Our guys try to do a pretty good job of replicating that in practice. We do the best we can on it.
“Some weeks it probably looks a little better than it does on other weeks just because the person who is doing it [has] similar styles or whatever it happened to be. We try to do that and the quarterbacks try to simulate the other quarterbacks; the defensive backs try to play like the defensive backs play that we’re going to play. We deal with that every week. I think the players do a pretty good job of trying to understand how to give the look to the other side of the ball. We just do the best we can with it.”
The Raiders have run for 190, 131 and 234 yards, respectively, in their first three games. Not surprisingly, the 190-yard effort against Denver and the 234-yard performance against the Jets last week resulted in wins. Those performances have certainly made a believer of Hue Jackson, in his first full year as Raiders head coach.
“I think Darren McFadden is one of the best players in football,” Jackson said. “I’ve said that and I’ll go on record saying that. He’s one of the finest football players and running backs in this league, bar none, and I stand behind that as his head coach and as his coordinator. He is as good as there is in football.”
Jackson said he’s not concerned about a groin issue that slowed him after Week 1.
“He won’t be down all week, I guarantee that,” Jackson predicted. “That’s just not him. He likes to compete, he likes to practice and prepare to get ready. We’ll do whatever we need to do to make sure he’s fine. I think he’s fine for the most part. He’ll go out and practice and get ready to play.”
McFadden is nearly identical to Buffalo’s Jackson in stature and production. He is 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and can run between the tackles and then use the stiff-arm with best of them to ward off would-be defenders. He did that on opening night on Sept. 12 in Denver when he ran the ball 22 times for 150 yards in a win over the Broncos.
If you load the box against McFadden, the Raiders can burn you in the passing game, as Jason Campbell found McFadden seven times on passes in the Week 2 loss to the Bills. McFadden finished with 72 yards rushing on 21 carries while he had 71 yards on seven catches.
McFadden, nursing a sore groin, returned to form on the ground last week in the 34-24 win over the Jets. He ran the ball 19 times for career-high 171 yards, including a career-best 70-yard TD run.
This is no mistake. The Raiders ranked second in the NFL in rushing last season, running for over 100 yards 13 times. McFadden rushed for 1,157 yards, the fifth-highest total in Raiders history.
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