Raiders

Raiders: Darren McFadden’s Career Was Full Of Ups And Downs

In the 2008 NFL Draft, the (at that time) Oakland Raiders selected running back Darren McFadden with the fourth overall pick. Expectations were high – and rightfully so, as the Razorbacks product ran for an astounding 1,830 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in 13 games as a junior.

In Week 2 of the 2008 season, Raider Nation saw the flash of what McFadden was thought to be for years to come. The rookie running back dismantled the Chiefs defense, scampering for 164 yards on 21 carries scoring once. Oakland’s backfield also featured Michael Bush and Justin Fargas that year and as such, McFadden wasn’t a feature player. Injuries began to play a factor and he missed three games in 2008. This was an unfortunate trend of things to come as he only played in all 16 games in Oakland during his final year as a Raider.

The 3rd Season Is the Charm

After a sophomore season riddled with injuries, McFadden put together his best statistical season in 2010. Even though he missed three games, he ran for 1,157 yards, and found the endzone seven times. Also, he ran for an average of 5.2 yards per attempt, which was the third most amongst all running backs that year. The high point of this particular season came in Week 7. After missing back-to-back games, he put together one of his most unforgettable performances, racking up 196 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns as the Raiders trampled the Broncos 59-14.

The Silver and Black narrowly missed the playoffs in 2010, having lost two of the final three games. Nevertheless, they came out with a vengeance the following year. McFadden ran all over the Broncos in the season opener to the tune of 150 yards as the Raiders won 23-20 in Mile High City. Two weeks later at home against the Jets, McFadden posted a career-high with 171 rushing yards.

McFadden was on a hot streak and so were the Raiders. Through the first six games of 2011, he ran for 614 yards and four touchdowns while the Silver and Black had a 4-2 record. However, as noted above, the injury bug came crawling back. In Week 7 against the Chiefs, he left the game with a foot injury. That was one week after quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone. The ailment would leave him sidelined for the remainder of the season.

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A Season of Contrast

McFadden returned in 2012, but consistency was hard to come by in an up-and-down season for the running back. In the first two weeks of the season, he ran for a mere 54 yards and averaged a whopping two yards per carry. Things changed in Week 3, as he ran for 113 yards on 18 carries and scored his first touchdown of the year in a 34-31 win over the Steelers. Over the next three games, McFadden struggled and averaged 52 yards and 2.6 yards per attemp. This of course was followed with another riveting game where he for 114 yards in a 26-16 win over the Chiefs. McFadden eclipsed 100 yards one more time that season, doing so versus the Chiefs two weeks later. The season ended with McFadden appearing in 12 games and rushing for 707 yards on 216 attempts for a career-low 3.3 yards per carry.

And then Came the Decline

The 2013 season was an abysmal one for McFadden. After a forgetful opening week, McFadden bounced back with a 129-yard game averaging 6.7 yards on his 19 carries as the Raiders defeated the Jaguars 19-6. As the season progressed, McFadden’s numbers began to tumble as his top game beyond that was only 73 yards against the Steelers in a 21-18 win. By seasons end, McFadden had only played in ten games. In that span, he rushed for 379 yards on 114 touches, matching his career-low of 3.3 yards per carry.

Minimal Impact

For the first time in his career, McFadden played in all 16 games in 2014. Unfortunately, the production value was minimal with McFadden’s top game only producing 80 yards. While the Raiders limped their way through the 2014 season, Latavius Murray was waiting for his opportunity. That chance came on a rainy Thursday night in Oakland. Murray exploded onto the scene with 112 yards and two touchdowns while only having four carries before leaving the game in the second quarter with a concussion.

Murray missed the following week but while he didn’t start in the Week 14 win over the former cross-town rival 49ers, he did carry the ball 20 more times than McFadden. The change of guard was clear and McFadden made his way to Dallas, where he wrapped up his career. While his final two seasons didn’t amount to much, he did eclipse the 1,000-yard marker in 2015 in his first year as a Cowboy.

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Top Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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