The Oakland Raiders could get Darren McFadden back this weekend, but should they even play him?
The Oakland Raiderrs were without starting running back Darren McFadden for the past three games, but honestly, they did not miss him much. Last year, losing McFadden was devastating for the Raiders as he was on pace for a career year and his first trip to the Pro Bowl. This year, however, McFadden has had a very poor season and the Raids run game has been all but non existent this year. When McFadden and his back up Mike Goodson both went down the same week, many expected Taiwan Jones to take on most of the half back duties. Instead, it was perennially under utilized full back, Marcel Reece, who stepped up to the plate big time for the Raiders. Now that it looks like McFadden could be back as soon as this week, the question must be asked, should he get his starting job back? The answer isn't as obvious as it may seem.
Before this season, Marcel Reece had never played a single snap at the half back position, but when McFadden went down, he was more than up for the challenge. Of course, changing positions is nothing new for Reece who was a wide receiver in college, started his NFL career at tight end on the Raiders practice squad and eventually moved to the full back position where he found himself a starter in the NFL despite the fact that in college he was not expected to play at the next level. Since then, Reece has showed that he can create mismatch nightmares with his speed and great hands, while also proving he can use his big body to block and rush for tough yards.
For two years now, Raiders fans have agonized over the fact that coaches had not found a way to get the ball in Reecee's hands more often. He would break out for a big game every now and then, but was massively inconsistent due to the fact that the coaching staff did not get him enough opportunities on a consistent basis. Since McFadden went down, Reece has rushed the ball 47 times for 225 yards, averaging just under 5 yards per carry. He has also had 15 receptions for 175 yards. In the 8 games that Darren McFadden started before getting injured, he only had 230 more rushing yards than Reece put up in 3 games and only 15 more receiving yards than Reece has put up in his short stint as starting running back.
Despite the fact that Marcel Reece's first opportunity for consistent touches came at a position that he had never played before, he has risen to the occasion and found success. Despite his success last season, Darren McFadden has struggled to figure out the zone blocking scheme and has been a fraction of the back he was last season. Now that Reece has proven himself once again, there is a serious argument to be made for allowing him to keep the starting running back job.