Editor’s note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Eagles matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m., at Oakland Coliseum.
Raiders RB Darren McFadden vs. Eagles NT Bennie Logan Tale of the tape:
McFadden (20): 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, sixth season, Arkansas
Logan (96): 6-foot-2, 309 pounds, rookie season, Louisiana State
The Raiders running game got its act together in the first half of Sunday’s victory over Pittsburgh. We all know it went quiet in the second, but there were glimpses of productivity from an interior running game so crucial to the Raiders offense earlier on.
McFadden averaged 4.3 yards per carry, with two touchdowns and a 19-yard run over two quarters, a sign that he and the rushing attack can be consistent when executing well.
There is a problem stat for a downhill rusher that prides himself on being physical. According to Pro Football Focus, McFadden has averaged just 1.55 yards per carry after initial contact since returning from a hamstring strain two games ago.
While the line has something to do with that – no one can fight through gang tackles – McFadden must do better after contact.
He used to rank among the best. He averaged 2.9 yards per carry after contact in 2011 and a whopping 3.5 in 2010. Those were the good old days, when McFadden was averaging 5.3 yards per carry overall.
McFadden wants to be that rare combination of power rusher and home run threat starting Sunday against Philadelphia.
That means McFadden will have to shake off rookie nose tackle Bennie Logan to reach the second level and produce steady yards in bigger chunks.
Logan will start for Isaac Sopoaga, who was dealt to New England near the trade deadline. The rookie from LSU has averaged 22 snaps per game and been pedestrian against the run.
Other young nose tackles will file in, but Logan will be the primary player on rushing downs.
McFadden needs to take advantage of youth to meet his own expectations. He’s been disappointed with this season, which includes just one game over 100 yards (against Jacksonville) and missed opportunities to close teams out with the run.
“The season isn’t going as well as I would’ve liked right now,” McFadden told CSN parent network NBC Sports Network. “It’s been up and down thus far, and I haven’t had the number of 100-yard games I think I should’ve. A lot of that has to do with things we haven’t done well, and we’re working to fix those problems.”
The Raiders are committed to rushing consistently and churning out yards on the ground.
“The way the running game works, the running game is about how many attempts can you get,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “And our thought process is that if we have enough attempts, eventually we’re going to bust one out and have a good run. I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to progress. There are going to be some (1- or 2-yard runs) in there, but I’m hoping we see a few more 6s and 7s and maybe even a couple of big runs.”