After having a break out season in 2010, Darren McFadden did not waste any time showing that it was not a fluke. McFadden dominated the Denver Broncos on the ground on Monday Night Football, putting up 150 yards on 22 carries and looking unstoppable in the progress.
Not only were McFadden's 150 yards on the ground good enough for the best in the NFL in week one, they were also good enough to land McFadden on Mike Sando's MVP Watch List on espn.com. I know it is early in the season to get too excited, but anytime you are mentioned in the same sentence as the term MVP, you have got to be excited.
McFadden's status on the MVP Watch List should be taken with a grain of salt, however. First of all, Cam Newton also appears on the list, and lets face the facts, a rookie quarterback is never going to win the NFL MVP award. There are simply going to be too many growing pains in a rookie quarterbacks first professional season to be able to make a legitimate run for MVP.
In addition, there are bound to be McFadden detractors. People are going to claim that McFadden put up his numbers against a very weak run defense, and was unable to score in the process.
While McFadden was unable to find the endzone in week one, he had a 47 yard romp in which he was taken down only inches from the endzone. There is no doubt that McFadden will get his touchdowns this season as he just runs far too hard not to.
It should also be noted, that at this point, McFadden is the only running back on the MVP Watch List. There is no doubt that as the season continues, at least one of the big three running backs in the league are also going to find their way onto the list. Adrian Peterson started off well with a 96 yard game, but it wasn't enough to get on the list. Chris Johnson started off incredibly slow, but it was after sitting out all preseason in a contract dispute. Finally, break out star from last season, Arian Foster, has yet to hit the field this year due to a hamstring injury.
The key to whether or not McFadden can have a monster season in which he will find himself in the pro-bowl and MVP contention will be consistency. Last season, McFadden finished with 1,157 yards and 7 touchdowns. Those are numbers that any back would be happy with, but not numbers that are going to land you in the pro-bowl or make you a serious MVP contender.
In all likelihood, McFadden would have done both of those things had he been more consistent last season. There were three games last season where McFadden received ten or more carries but could not break the 50 yard mark, and another game where he had 8 carries and only amassed 2 yards. These are the types of games an MVP candidate cannot have. If McFadden can prove himself to be a consistent threat of 100 yards week in and week out, his time on Sando's MVP watch list should not be very short lived.