Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders' Darren McFadden: Breakout Player of the Year?

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 03:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders can't hang on to a pass as Dannell Ellerbe #59 of the Baltimore Ravens defends during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on January 3, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
jeremy barilCorrespondent IAugust 2, 2010

Darren McFadden is my pick for 2010 Breakout Player of the Year based on several factors, including a new offensive coordinator, improved play on the offensive line, and of course, a better defense.

But most importantly McFadden is going to be used the way he should be. 

I realize Darren McFadden seems to be a hot-button topic among many Raiders fans as well as other fans throughout the league who most believe he's been a bust so far with Oakland. 

However, most people fail to realize how to use his talents most effectively.

McFadden has the hands, speed and, ability to hit home runs but Oakland has really failed at giving him the opportunities to make those type of plays.

If it wasn't JaMarcus Russell throwing screens that didn't allow McFadden to catch the ball in stride, it was the offensive line giving up pressure in pass coverage and stopping him in his tracks. 

Now that the Raiders have brought in an offensive coordinator who believes in the running game and understands screens and dump-off passes to his running backs are important.

McFadden has every opportunity to break out. 

In this article, I'm going to use Ray Rice as a perfect example of a player with the abilities to really impact the Baltimore offense.

Looking at his rookie stats and his second year stats we see a similar type of growth we should expect to see with McFadden this year with Hue Jackson coaching him up. 

Ray Rice had 78 receptions last season with the Ravens.

McFadden has 50 in two seasons.

Rice "only" had 700 yards receiving for an average of nine yards per catch with his longest 63 yards with his 4.4 40-yard dash speed. Rice was also able to run for over 1,300 yards. 

If McFadden has 78 receptions and catch the ball in stride, he's going to have several opportunities for huge gains with his 4.33 40-yard dash speed.

Last season, there were plenty of screens and dump-offs in which McFadden had to completely adjust his body and come to a near complete stop to catch a pass, thus limiting his opportunity for  30-plus yard gains.

If McFadden can account for more than 1,500 yards this season, he could be a major breakout candidate.

If he goes over 2,000 combined yards like Rice, then his impact on this offense is going to be tremendous. 

McFadden's a running back/wide receiver not a pure running back.

If Hue Jackson makes McFadden his Ray Rice, then McFadden will finally start earning his pay and will become the 2010 Breakout player of the Year. 

Let's just hope he's finally used correctly and the offensive line provides enough protection for him to get free.

I think both issues will be addressed this season, and he's going to make a big improvement.

Just how big of an improvement he makes could really make the difference between the Raiders being a .500 team and them being a playoff team. 

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