Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Browns matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Raiders RB Darren McFadden vs. Browns MLB Karlos Dansby
Tale of the tape:
McFadden (20): 6-foot-1, 218 pounds, seventh season, Arkansas
Dansby (56): 6-foot-3, 251 pounds, 11th season, Auburn
The Raiders have the NFL’s worst rushing attack. The Browns are dead last in run defense.
Something, it seems, has got to give.
The Raiders believe they can get right on Sunday afternoon and improve on last week’s dismal showing against the Arizona Cardinals. They averaged just 2.9 yards per carry against a top run D, and must do better against a statistically poor Browns unit.
“You certainly would hope so,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “Obviously, you look at those (ranking) every time you go in a game as you study your opponents and are looking for an edge or an advantage. That’s one that we look at.”
While Maurice Jones-Drew could see more snaps, Darren McFadden should be the primary workhorse. The Raiders like his aggressive rushing style and straight-line speed that provides big-play capability if he can reach a defense’s second level.
McFadden has had some runs over 10 yards, but his per carry average is at 3.8 due to several inefficient carries that barely break the line of scrimmage. He must stay efficient against the Browns and stay away from middle linebacker Karlos Dansby.
The veteran is a sure tackler and clearly Cleveland’s best run defender. He has 48 tackles and three sacks in this young season. Staying away from him may be easier said that done considering he takes smart angles to the ball and rarely misses tackles.
If McFadden can stay away from trouble, there’s potential for him to have a big day and use his athletic gifts that work best when he’s healthy.
“On film,” Browns head coach Mike Pettine said, “McFadden seems to be his usual, explosive self.”