The Myths of the AFC West
The arguments against our pick of Darren McFadden are dropping like flies on the heels of Dominic Rhodes, who was released yesterday.
How many times have I already heard from the media that Al Davis couldn’t “resist” McFadden, or that McFadden was “irresistible” to the Raiders? In other words, the Raiders couldn’t help themselves. It sure wasn’t a sensible strategic decision, because…well, that just doesn’t fit the Hater Worldview.
So we hear all this bleating about how running back wasn’t a “need” for the Raiders. Really? We have two guys (I mean, one) who couldn’t crack last year’s starting lineup, a guy who’s never played a snap in the NFL, and a guy who, despite having a “breakout” year, scored a total of four touchdowns in 2007.
Such a running “attack” only becomes formidable when the media need to use it as a convenience to support their preordained assertion that McFadden was “irresistible.”
The problem is that some people are confusing moving the chains with scoring touchdowns. Yes, we racked up some healthy yardage last year. But in the red zone, we were a disaster, as we were the year prior.
Aside from Daunte Culpepper’s fluke trio of rushing touchdowns against the pathetic Miami Dolphins, the Raiders had a total of eight rushing touchdowns in 2007—four less touchdowns than Adrian Peterson alone scored in 14 games last year.
Fargas scored four touchdowns last year (one more than Culpepper), doubling his career total. LaDainian Tomlinson, meanwhile, scored four touchdowns against us on October 14.
It’s not just about moving the chains. It’s about making people miss on third-and-goal at the three-yard line. LaDanian Tomlinson passes for touchdowns. He catches touchdowns. He goes airborne for touchdowns. He jukes for touchdowns. He draws attention that creates open receivers who catch touchdowns. Does Fargas do that? Crickets.
Isn’t it time the Raiders scored some touchdowns, too? I’m not going to compare McFadden to L.T., but who wants to bet me that he won't match Fargas's career total of six touchdowns in his rookie year alone? Any haters in the media want to take me up on that? Didn't think so. So much for not having a "need."
Which brings me to the myth of the AFC West. I keep hearing how, particularly because we play in the AFC West, we should have focused on stopping the run instead of running the ball.
Yet in a bad season last year we still beat the Chiefs once and Broncos once. We easily could have beaten the Broncos twice if not for a botched field goal. And we lost to the Chiefs by two points not because we held them to 12 points, but because we couldn
So watch out for those big, bad 4-12 Chiefs with Brody Croyle and Larry Johnson? So scary! They put up a whopping 29 points on us last year. And those 7-9 Broncos really ended the season on an up note with their fearsome rushing attack of...who, again? Come on. Quit running scared and start running the ball.
It’s not 2005 anymore, folks. We’re starting to turn the tables. Now they get to worry about our rushing attack. How can you not be pumped up by the thought of that?
I believe, however, that our line will be improved this year on the basis of experience and cohesion. I believe that our linebackers are up to the task. I believe that DeAngelo Hall will free up our safeties in the open field. Gibril Wilson bumps Michael Huff to a more natural role, and Stuart “Patty Cake” Schweigert to the bench. You might get 12 yards on us. But the days of the unabated 30-yard romp are coming to an end on the defensive side of the ball (and just getting started on the offensive side of the ball).
The reality, not the myth, is that the Raiders now have the second-best running attack in the AFC West. The reality, not the myth, is that we have nothing to fear from the Broncos and Chiefs in 2008. The reality, not the myth, is that McFadden was a sensible pick who fills a dire need for scoring touchdowns and winning games.