ALAMEDA – Darren McFadden had a monster game Sunday against Jacksonville. The Raiders running back had 129 rushing yards on just 19 carries, but that came against the NFL’s worst run defense.
Monday night against Denver, he’ll square off against the league’s best. The Broncos allow just 40 yards per game, a stat that can seem skewed considering they’ve been played most of two games with a huge lead.
Yards per carry, that stat won't mislead. The Broncos lead the league there too, giving up just 2 yards a rush.
Those numbers don’t scare McFadden off.
“We’re a run-first team, and we’re not going to change that,” McFadden said. “It’s all about commitment because our running game takes some work. We hit some short runs and all of a sudden, we break out a couple big ones that can change the game.”
McFadden has done so several times against the Broncos. He has 723 rushing yards and five touchdowns in nine games against Denver. He’s had some success in the Mile High City, totaling 165 yards in 2010 and 119 in 2011, when the team ran the gap-creation and gap-control scheme the Raiders use now.
That was then. Right now, McFadden is running strong yet again.
McFadden proved that last week, with a 6.8-yard per carry average and four rushes of 24 yards or more. It was a good day and a positive step for the NFL’s best rushing offense, but McFadden feels it could’ve been even better.
“It felt great to be able to get going last week, but I think a few carries should’ve been bigger than what they were,” McFadden said. “But it was good to get out there, get your feet wet and get used to being in the open field.”
That’s a sign of confidence that McFadden believes he should be doing even better. It’s a welcome sight for the Raiders, especially after a disappointing 2012 season where he averaged a career-low 3.3 yards per carry.
It’s still to early to tell if McFadden is back to his old self.
“We’re only two games into this thing,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “But like I’ve said, I’ve always been impressed with Darren McFadden’s attitude and his work ethic. To me, the conversations I’ve had with Darren McFadden have been very positive since the day I got here (this offseason.”