Questionable Play Calling Bringing Down Oakland Raiders Offense?

By: Bryan Povlinski on October 26, 2012

The Oakland Raiders have one of the most talented running backs in the NFL in Darren McFadden. You would think it would be a priority to get McFadden the ball often. In the aggregate the Raiders really have gotten McFadden the ball with an average of 17 carries and 4 receptions per game. His 21 total touches per games ranks 6th among all players trailing only Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, and Jamaal Charles. However, it looks like they may be getting the ball to McFadden in tough spots. Oakland has called a pass on 112 of their 170 first down plays. Their 65.9% pass to rush ratio on 1st down is 6% higher than any other team (Cleveland at 60%) and only 13 other teams are over 50%. That means McFadden has only gotten 48 rushing attempts on 1st down. Compare that to Arian Foster who has 82 rushing attempts on 1st down (in 1 extra game) or Jamaal Charles who has 75 attempts. McFadden actually has more attempts on 2nd down. He’s the only one of the top running backs with more attempts on 2nd down than 1st. On top of this McFadden is averaging 4.1 yards per carry on 1st down but only 2.5 on 2nd down rushes. A major part of the problem on 2nd down is that McFadden is often up against 2nd and 7 or more (67% of his 2nd down runs have been with at least 7 yards to go) and the defenses are able to stack the box to stop McFadden. If that play gets stuffed then the Raiders are looking at 3rd and long and the drive likely ends there (Raiders only converting 29% of their 3rd down and 7+ yards).

My suggestion: Get McFadden the ball on 1st down more often and then resort to the passing game if the carry gets stuffed. He’s clearly the most explosive player on the Raiders offense so I’d like to think that he puts the team in a good position to gain another 1st down on a more consistent basis than starting off each possession with Carson Palmer throwing.