In part one of this series, we took a look at the top three quarterbacks of the Oakland Raiders’ “Dark Age”. I’ve deemed this time with such gloom immediately after the Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2002 NFL Super Bowl up through the 2013 season, the season before Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, and Gabe Jackson were drafted. During this period the Silver and Black combined for a total record of 53-123. So now we will take a look at the best running backs during from this disastrous period.
Before I started to compile this list I immediately assumed that LaMont Jordan would somehow make it on here. However, even though he signed a 5-year contract with the Raiders he only played three seasons with Oakland after the Raiders put their trust in another young, promising running back named Justin Fargas after Jordan suffered multiple injuries that sidelined him. So, without further delay, here are your top three backs that provided a spark during those dark years.
3. Justin Fargas 2003-2009
Fargas took over the starting position for the above mentioned Lamont Jordan in 2007, however, Fargas was drafted by Oakland in the third round of the 2003 NFL draft but saw limited action during his first three seasons with the Raiders. His best season came when he rushed for 1,009 yards and four touchdowns in 2007.
Justin Fargas stats:
Fargas racked up a total of 3,369 yards on the ground but only a dismal 10 touchdowns throughout his seven seasons with the Raiders. He did however average 4.1 yards per carry throughout his career with Oakland.
2. Michael Bush 2008-2011
Bush was selected in the 4th round of the 2007 NFL draft by Oakland, however, a leg injury kept him from participating for the entire 2007 season and didn’t see the field until 2008. Quite often Bush found himself in playing the fullback position for Oakland but that didn’t stop him from making the most out of his opportunities as we see in the stats below.
Michal Bush stats:
Though he only played four seasons with the Raiders, Michael Bush rushed for 2,642 yards and piled up 21 touchdowns on the ground. If that wasn’t enough he also racked up 879 yards through the air and tagged a single touchdown on with it during those four seasons.
1. Darren McFadden 2008-2014
The highly touted Arkansas product was drafted by the Raiders in 2008 with the 4th overall pick. However, McFadden never lived up to the hype as Raider fans know. Rushing for only 1000+ yards only once during his seven seasons in Oakland, McFadden was constantly hampered with leg and foot injuries. McFadden only played a full season once in 2014.
Even though McFadden is seen as a disappointment to Raider Nation, when he was healthy he had the ability to put up big numbers as his stats will indicate below and was good enough to come in first on my list of running backs during this dark period for Oakland.
Darren McFadden stats:
McFadden rushed for 4,247 yards and 25 touchdowns during his seven seasons in Oakland. Add another 1,769 yards receiving and five touchdowns throughout that same time and McFadden’s stats easily place him as number one in the Raiders backfield. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry throughout his career in Oakland.
So there you have it, Oakland’s top three backs during the Raiders Dark Age. I really wanted to place Michael Bush at number one and I felt like he could have done so much more for the Raiders had he been given more of a workload and not been assigned so much fullback duty. McFadden had his moments, but I would have loved to see Oakland give Latavius Murray more of a workload in 2014 instead of resigning McFadden for another season. But now with a full stable of quality running backs in 2017, Raider fans can look back on the lean years and appreciate the talent they have now even more.