The Oakland Raiders cannot run the ball. If you take away Darren McFadden's 64 yard run in week three, the Raiders rushing numbers go from bad to pathetic. What makes the struggles so hard to accept for Raiders fans is that the Raiders had a top ten offense in 2011, and Darren McFadden looked like a lock for the Pro Bowl and a serious contender for NFL MVP. While the offensive line in front of McFadden has changed, it was for the better, rather than being down graded. Therefore, the big change from 2011 to 2012 is the zone blocking scheme implemented by offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.
After week one, most were willing to give McFadden the benefit of the doubt, but now that the Raiders are a quarter of the way through the season and McFadden is still a non-factor, the benefit has been thrown out of the window and there is little hope that the run game will improve by much this season. With the Raiders coaching staff firmly standing behind the zone blocking system, it looks to be here for the long haul. So, that poses the question, should the Raiders consider parting ways with Darren McFadden if he is not a fit for the zone blocking scheme?
The reaction of most to the idea of trading McFadden is outrage, and justifiably so. They guy is a freak of nature with a rare combination of speed, size and strength and has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL. But once you sit down and think about it, trading McFadden makes a lot more sense than one woul think.
First off, the zone blocking scheme is notorious for turning no name backs into studs. Everyone remembers how Mike Shanahan was able to turn the most obscure backs into 1,000 yard rushers every season. Therefore, the zone blocking scheme greatly devalues an elite back, because theoretically, you can get the same kind of production from a lesser talent, at a smaller price. On top of that, the running back position has been in steep decline as far as value due to the NFL becoming more and more of a pass first league.
Then, when you consider the fact that Darren McFadden has yet to play a complete season without getting hurt, and suddenly, his value to the Raiders is significantly less than one would think for a guy who could be one of the best at his position. The fact of the matter is, the Raiders need help all over the field. From right tackle, to defensive end, to linebacker to corner back, the Raiders are in serious need of upgrades. If the Raiders can flip McFadden for a player and a pick, the Raiders could potentially upgrade two positions while not seeing a big downgrade at the running back position.
Raiders fans will not want to hear this, but trading Darren McFadden actually makes some sense. It is not likely going to happen because other teams understand better than fans that his value is greatly diminished, but if Reggie McKenzie can find a trade partner, it would not be the worst idea to try and get some value for McFadden.