Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Oct 2012

Zone Blocking: The Anti-McFadden

Darren McFadden is a fantastic talent, but RSP blog contributor Nathan Miller demonstrates why McFadden and the Oakland Raiders line are experiencing growing pains as they transition to a zone-blocking scheme.

Posted by: Matt Waldman on 04 Oct 2012

6 comments, Last at 01 Nov 2012, 8:52pm by Mr Shush


by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 10/05/2012 - 7:10am

Having watched McFadden play for the Raiders I never saw a breakaway threat that he is purported to be. I saw him get into the field on quite a few occasions and then get run down from behind. Even on his 64-yard TD against the Steelers he was getting caught.

I saw better games from Michael Bush who could break tackles.

Personally I think the Raiders might have done better to use McFadden as lucrative trade bait. If you're going to use ZBS - as Denver showed for many years under Shanahan - you don't need 1st round draft picks to make it work.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 10/06/2012 - 7:25pm

The idea RB that talent is unimportant in a ZBS is . . . pretty questionable. The advanced numbers for the likes of Davis, Portis and Foster are much, much better than for the Bells, Droughnses, Daynes, Browns and so on of this world.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 10/07/2012 - 2:14am

ZBS RB talent is extremely important, maybe more important than in any other scheme. But it's a specific skill set that's important, not necessarily the same skill set needed for any other scheme. Mike Shanahan has a reputation for no-name 1,000 yard backs, because he's good at recognizing the specific skills or traits he needs in backs no one else values.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 11/01/2012 - 8:52pm

No disagreement here.

by mann (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2012 - 7:36pm

You're absolutely right that he was slow on that 64 yd run, but he is still a home-run threat a good portion of the time, and one of the best at that. He's just very temperamental, and on some plays, or even some days, does not have his usual burst. But it's pretty clear that when he does, he is a serious breakaway threat. You can't not think that if you've watched his whole career.

by Nathan Miller (not verified) :: Sat, 10/06/2012 - 2:02am

Good insight. It seems Shanahan is once again proving this in Washington with Morris, who was on no one's radar as a starting back.