What turned Darren McFadden from a tentative back deris...

The Oakland Tribune - [Full Article]

What turned Darren McFadden from a tentative back derisively nicknamed "McFalldown" by some elements of the fan base into a robust finisher of runs?

The easy answer is being healthy. McFadden had turf-toe injuries on both feet as a rookie and in his second year needed in-season minor knee surgery and postseason shoulder surgery.

But something else was missing, and Raiders coach Hue Jackson approached McFadden in the weight room not long after taking over as offensive coordinator before last season to find out what it was.

Jackson recalled asking McFadden what made him a Heisman Trophy finalist at Arkansas, and McFadden said some of his favorite runs were not in the Oakland playbook.

"He rattled off about three or four runs that he really enjoys, and I said, 'OK, they're in,' " Jackson said. "And he looked at me and said, 'Oh, no they're not.' And I said, 'Yes they are.' And that's what we did. And 1,157 yards later, that's who Darren McFadden is."

Under former coach Tom Cable, the Raiders were strictly a zone-blocking team, a style that calls for running backs to exercise patience before cutting back hard against the grain.

Jackson instituted more gap and power blocking, in part to benefit McFadden.

Fantasy Impact: 
Filed Under: 2011, Preseason

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