Out the entire off-season following late December foot surgery, Jones-Drew has been one of camp’s bright spots, steadily increasing his first-team reps each week.
So will Jones-Drew be on the field against the New York Jets?
“I won’t know until Saturday,” he said after practice today. “It’s just one of those things. You have to prepare yourself to play. If I get the green light, I get it. If I don’t, I’ll go back to work next week and do it all over again.”
On Saturday, Bradley gave a “we’ll see,” answer regarding Jones-Drew facing the Jets.
MJD is moving up the rankings with a healthy camp. Our main concern is with the Jaguars' offense as a whole and the team's decision to move to a zone-blocking scheme in the running game, which effectively destroyed Darren McFadden in 2012. MJD may be better suited for the ZBS, but only time will tell.
No defender laid a hand on McFadden until he was at least three yards downfield -- which is roughly what he averaged per carry in 2012 in a zone scheme ill-suited to his nature as a runner. It was a simple running play in a non-padded practice on the first day of training camp, but illustrated nicely what McFadden does best. The zone scheme, which called on McFadden to move laterally before cutting back against the grain, helped drop his yards per carry to a career-low 3.3 yards.
"I love a downhill scheme, so I'm very confident about it," McFadden said. " I'll just be able to get out there and go downhill. That's one of my strong points."
"I feel like I'm a downill runner and that's something the coaches see also. By getting us in a gap scheme offense, they feel that suits me a lot more."
After averaging 5.2+ YPC in 2010 and 2011, the Raiders (ponderously) switched back to a zone-blocking running scheme, to which we already knew DMC is not well-suited. When healthy and in a power scheme, McFadden is a bona fide fantasy RB1. He averaged #2 and #8 RB numbers in 2010 and 2011 before the team changed to a zone-blocking scheme.
The Raiders had a disastrous season running the football last year. Their ground game ranked 28th in the NFL, with 88 yards per game, and blame fell on a zone-blocking scheme that cost offensive coordinator Greg Knapp his job. Darren McFadden averaged a career-worst 3.3 yards per carry and had just three total touchdowns in 2012. Zone blocking hurt McFadden the most, taking away his ability to shake tacklers, improvise on the fly and grind out extra yards. An ankle injury sidelined him four games and marked the fifth straight season health issues slowed him down.
McFadden couldn’t be more motivated heading into a contract year. Last year’s frustration is this season’s drive, and he’s vowed to be the dynamic workhorse of years past. New coordinator Greg Olson installed a power-based rushing system that should benefit McFadden’s downhill rushing style.
After averaging 5.2+ YPC in 2010 and 2011, the Raiders (ponderously) switched back to a zone-blocking running scheme, to which we already knew DMC is not well-suited. He's a top 10 talent when healthy, but his durability will always be a concern. His owners long for the 1,664 total yards and 10 TDs he posted (in just 13 games) during the 2010 season.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 10:29am
"You’ve seen a lot of glimpses, though, but I can promise you that you haven’t seen the best of him at all."
This is a contract year for McFadden who is coming off another injury. The Raiders say they are switching back to a power running game which will help McFadden put up numbers provided he can stay healthy. We think he can be a top-10 back in an injury free world, but at the moment we rank him 17th among RBs. He's got an ADP of the mid-fourth round.
Jones-Drew said he ran 30 yards at three-quarters speed during the workout.
“That was exciting,” he said. “Lately, it’s been one day on, a day off, two days on, a day off — it’s part of the process.
I’m closer than I think. I just want to take my time and make sure we do it the right way.”
Jones-Drew’s goal is to resume full-scale training for the month leading into the start of training camp the last week of July.
Thursday, April 11, 2013, 6:36pm
Jennings had a chance to make a lot of money last season with Maurice Jones-Drew sidelined but ended up being benched after rushing for just 237 yards on 88 carries (2.7 YPC) from Week 7 to Week 13. He'll compete with Marcel Reece and Jeremy Stewart for carries behind Darren McFadden
Coach Dennis Allen said this week that the fact that RB Darren McFadden is going back to a system in which he excelled in will help him.
“(McFadden’s) most effective years have been in a downhill, power scheme,” Allen said this week at the NFL owners meetings “That's why Greg Olson and Tony Sparano are here."
McFadden should bounce back this season as the team moves back to a power scheme. Last year was a case of the Raiders trying to fix something that wasn't broken. McFadden averaged 122 total yards and 0.75 TDs in 20 games in 2010 and 2011.
Thursday, February 14, 2013, 12:14pm
An area Marcel Reece was underutilized last season was as a third down, short yardage back. Greg Knapp miscast Darren McFadden in that role and the offense stalled constantly because of it. That is a role Reece should be playing and new OC Greg Olson intends to use him that way.
"It's nice to know especially from a quarterback standpoint to have somebody who is built like he's built and is also intelligent enough to be that third-down back who understands the blitz packages that other teams are doing and to have tremendous hands coming out of the backfield. I was really pleasantly surprised in that part of the game that he could go in and be a third-down back. Not just a plug-in type guy but not only did he do it but he did it well. I was excited to see that."
This obviously will impact McFadden's involvement in the passing game. We're expecting a better year from DMC due to the Raiders moving back to a power running game, but it sounds as if he won't be used as much on third down.
Thursday, February 14, 2013, 10:33am
"What we've decided to do, as a staff, is see what Darren McFadden is comfortable doing,'' Olson said Wednesday at the team facility. "Let's try and make it more comfortable for Darren, because he's one of our premier players.''
That means emphasizing much more of the power scheme within which McFadden flourished in 2011. It means more north and south running, fewer angles and horizontal attacks. And much less need to read blocks.
We knew Olson would likely ditch the zone blocking scheme that was mostly ineffective in 2011. Provided he can stay healthy, this should lead to a bounce back season for McFadden.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Tony Sparano has been hired as Raiders assistant head coach/offensive line coach. According to the Oakland Tribune, the team has not confirmed the hire.
Olson is expected to bring a power-run game that should better fit Darren McFadden, who never seemed to find his way in fired Greg Knapp's zone-blocking scheme. That was Knapp's undoing. Olson was an offensive coordinator for six years before his stint in Jacksonville - three in Tampa Bay, two in St. Louis and one in Detroit.
It's good news for McFadden who has proved to be elite when in the right system.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 4:04pm
Raiders RB Darren McFadden is due to make $5.6 million in the last year of his contract, and though teams might be interested - and GM Reggie McKenzie might listen - the trade offers probably wouldn't be that big for an oft-injured back coming off his worst season.
And that's fine by HC Dennis Allen.
"I like Darren. I think he's a good running back," Allen said. "He's an explosive player, and I think he can continue to produce in the future."
The Raiders were expected to fire offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and other offensive staff members this week, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and a source informed of the news confirmed to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport that Knapp, linebackers coach Johnny Holland and two other unnamed offensive coaches are out.
The Raiders later announced in a release that Knapp, Holland, special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman and offensive line coach Frank Pollack have been relieved of duties.
Knapp preferred a zone scheme in the running game, which collapsed this season. The Raiders finished 28th in the NFL in rushing at just 89 yards per game. They were a top-seven rushing unit over the previous two years. Their supposed star rusher, Darren McFadden, finished with 707 rushing yards and a 3.3 yards-per-carry average.
Assuming the Raiders find an OC who can implement a running game more suited to McFadden's strengths, he should return to RB1 territory again next season.
Monday, December 31, 2012, 1:07pm
Basically, it comes down to this -- Greg Knapp or Darren McFadden.
The Raiders have to make a choice between a beleaguered offensive coordinator whose version of the West Coast Offense and zone-blocking scheme all-but neutered what had ben one of the game's more explosive running attacks and an explosive running back who has a propensity to get injured and yet to play a full 16-game season. Reports have Knapp and other staff members on their way out this week, though coach Dennis Allen would not comment on them Sunday.
Knapp is expected to be fired, so as long as the Raiders hire an OC who plans to run an offense more suited to McFadden's strengths, he should return to RB1 form in 2013. This was a cas of Knapp fixing something that wasn't broken.
Thursday, December 27, 2012, 4:06pm
"We certainly want to get Darren going and we haven't really been able to get it on track on a consistent basis," HC Dennis Allen said.