Grading Raiders running backs

Grading Raiders running backs
January 9, 2013, 10:15 am
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Darren McFadden averaged a career-low 3.3 yards per carry this season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

We are into our review of the Raiders' 4-12 season by looking at each position group and assigning grades. Up next -- the running backs…

Running backs
Darren McFadden -- 707 yards rushing, 216 attempts, 3.3 avg, 2 TDs
Marcel Reece -- 271 yards rushing, 59 attempts, 4.6 avg, 0 TDs
Mike Goodson -- 221 yards rushing, 35 attempts, 6.3 avg, 0 TDs
Jeremy Stewart -- 101 yards rushing, 25 attempts, 4.0 avg, 0 TDs
Taiwan Jones -- 21 yards rushing, six attempts, 3.5 avg, 0 TDs
Owen Schmitt -- 1 yard rushing, two attempts, 0.5 avg, 0 TDs

All you need to know about the Raiders rushing game and the team's return to the zone-blocking scheme is this -- undrafted rookie free agent Jeremy Stewart looked more comfortable, dare I say, better running in it than did purported league MVP candidate Darren McFadden. Of course, McFadden had injury issues…again. He missed four games due to a high ankle sprain and still has yet to play in more than 13 games in any of his five NFL seasons. Does it make him trade bait, especially as he is entering the final year of his contract and if the Raiders could somehow finagle a second- or third-round draft pick for him? Well, the firing of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and offensive line coach Frank Pollack would seem to signal coach Dennis Allen's willingness to return to a power blocking scheme that made McFadden, who averaged a career low in yards per carry, one of the elite players in the league…when healthy.

Marcel Reece, meanwhile, was vasty underused in Knapp's offense and showed how versatile he can be as an every down back. Even if he is not the breakaway threat that is McFadden…when healthy. And even though he caught 42 passes, McFadden's 6.1 yards per catch average was a career low. Reece, though, did catch a career-high 52 passes, his combined total of the previous two seasons and second-most on the team, for 496 yards and a touchdown. Reece was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl at fullback.

Mike Goodson also looked better in the ZBS than did McFadden, but Goodson also missed the same four games as McFadden, with his own high ankle sprain. And while he averaged more than six yards per carry, he does not seem to be a "bell cow" back either, though.

Plus, it's obvious the coaching staff does not trust Jones, either due to ball security issues or purported issues with the playbook. A yeah ago, the Raiders had the No. 7-ranked rushing attack (131.9 rushing yards per game). This year? It fell to No. 28 (88.8). any more questions?

Grade: D

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