Can McFadden thrive with zone-blocking scheme?


Can McFadden thrive with zone-blocking scheme?


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The first time in Darren McFadden's NFL career the Raiders employed a zone-blocking scheme, the not-yet all-everything running back was being fitted for the bust label.So now, two games into the Raiders' return to the ZBS and a West Coast offense under offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, McFadden has all of 54 rushing yards, after going for 22 yards on 11 carries in a 35-13 loss to Miami on Sunday.Small sample size, to be sure, but it sure looks like McFadden is anything but comfortable in this scheme, doesn't it?Well, no way, no how was McFadden going to rip his returning O.C., so he said the politically correct thing when I asked him about his comfort level in it."I'm very comfortable in this scheme," McFadden said. "I just feel like we have to get going. Like I say, you hit one or two runs here, three-yard runs here, and eventually it's going to start popping."But when? There are already questions about McFadden's durability -- he is coming off a Lisfranc injury to his right foot that limited him to six-plus games last year -- and the way San Diego crashed down on him in the Raiders' opener and the manner in which the Dolphins' snuffed out the run Sunday, you have to scratch your head, no? Especially with the Raiders running for a combined -1 yard in the second half against the Dolphins.Which makes you wonder if the Raiders abandoned the run too soon in a game in which they ran it eight times, for 24 yards, in the first half but 15 times after halftime, for that combined one-yard loss."I don't know what we averaged a run but we kept trying to get it going and kept trying to get it going because that's really what kind of dictates what gets our offense going, in the play-action game, especially," said quarterback Carson Palmer."We stuck with it and stuck with it and stuck with it and unfortunately, (Miami) just did a really good job with it up front and didn't let us get any big runs and the explosive run gains that we wanted."The Raiders averaged 1.6 yards per rush, and the longest run McFadden had against the Dolphins was for four yards."You can't look at those stats and say, 'Well, O.K., we're not going to run the ball anymore,'" Palmer said. "We're going to continue to run the ball. Where the big plays in this offense come from is off the running game, and Darren's a guy that can score from anywhere on the field. We realize that and defenses realize that so we're not going to abandon it whatsoever."We're going to continue to work at it, we're going to continue to get better at it, and he's going to get his chances because he's obviously a special talent and we're going to get him his opportunities."Maybe it's not merely McFadden's relative lack of success in the ZBS. Maybe it has something to do with the opponent. After all, in three games against the Dolphins, McFadden has carried the ball 22 times for 37 yards.Even when he had a clear path to the end zone Sunday, he dropped a pass that hit him between the numbers at the goal line. This after he missed a series following his getting poked in the left eye and having a protective visor put on his helmet.Bad matchup? Whatever the case, the Raiders had to throw the ball 48 times and became too predictable, allowing the Dolphins to simply pin their ears back and rush Palmer, as the Chargers did six days prior."We've been doing a great job moving the ball, passing the ball, but once we get the run and the pass back (together) there," McFadden said, "we'll be one of the elite offenses in the league."Coach Dennis Allen did not think the Raiders abandoned the run too soon, not with the score getting out of hand."I think we were being effective throwing the football," Allen said. "I think you're got to go with what the game dictates. I'm not going to second guess. We did what we had to do to try to win the football game and it didn't work out."So despite the relative lack of success in the ZBS, does Allen still have confidence in it?"Absolutely," he said. "Absolutely. I've seen it work. Believe in it."

Carr discusses contract negotiations with Raiders: 'These things take time'

Carr discusses contract negotiations with Raiders: 'These things take time'

Raiders general Reggie McKenzie plans to extend quarterback Derek Carr’s contract this offseason. That isn’t a new thing, something that has been in the works for some time. He re-affirmed that fact last week, citing his team’s commitment to work out a long-term deal likely the biggest in franchise history.

Carr was reportedly frustrated with the pace of contract talks after the NFL draft – they’re supposed to heat up this spring and summer – but said he believes a deal will get worked out before training camp begins.

That’s his deadline for an offseason deal, the point where he wants focus honed on football.

“I have an agent who is in charge of that and I am confident that he and Mr. (Reggie) McKenzie will work it out,” Carr, a Fresno State alum, told the Fresno Bee. “I am only focused on becoming a better football player and helping my teammates become better players.

“I have complete faith it will get done before training camp. These things take time. The Raiders know I want to be here; this is my family, and I know they want me to be their quarterback.”

The sides have discussed parameters of a long-term deal, with greater specifics to be ironed out in the future. Carr has long said he wants to be a Raider his entire career. The Raiders want him as the public face of their franchise. A new deal is expected by all parties, a sentiment that has never wavered on either side.

Carr is scheduled to make a $977,519 in base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract.

Raiders offseason program intensifies as OTA sessions begin

Raiders offseason program intensifies as OTA sessions begin

The Raiders offseason program is five weeks old. Players have lifted weights. They’ve improved cardiovascular shape. They’ve done drills in position groups and discussed schematics. They’ve added rookies to a group now 90 strong.

On Monday, they can finally put on helmets. They still can’t wear pads or have full contact, but the Raiders can play 11-on-11. Receivers will be covered. Quarterback Derek Carr will throw into traffic. Generally speaking, the competition cranks up a bit.

The NFL collective bargaining agreement has strict mandates regarding offseason activity, and a period formally called “Phase III” allows for more realistic on-field football work.

The Raiders will conduct 10 OTA sessions over the next three weeks. The media can watch three of them. Tuesday is the first, with another in each of the next two weeks. These sessions are technically voluntary, though the Raiders generally hover around perfect attendance. Head coach Jack Del Rio prefers his team be unified in the offseason. Players know it and show up.

There is a mandatory minicamp from June 13-15 which wraps the offseason program and starts a quiet period that extends until training camp begins in late July.

These OTAs offer an opportunity for new players to learn the system, for adjustments to be made and for chemistry to be built heading into a 2017 season where expectations are high.