Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

September 11, 2012
Palmer: Matchups dictated throws to McFadden

by Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

OAKLAND -- Darren McFadden couldn't remember the last time a team used him more times in the passing game than in the running game.

"Might be a first time for me," McFadden said.

In the Raiders' 22-14 loss to the Chargers on Monday night, McFadden carried 15 times for 32 yards and caught 13 passes for 86 yards. He set a new single-game record for catches by a Raiders running back, and fell one shy of the franchise record for receptions in a game -- by any player. McFadden was also the intended receiver on five passes that fell incomplete. That adds up to 33 of the 69 plays run by the Raiders' offense going through McFadden.

Not too creative on the Raiders' part, even taking into account the absence of receivers Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore. Early and often, they were lining up in different looks with their limited personnel, splitting McFadden and fullback Marcel Reece out wide or sending Reece in motion. But the ball was still getting to McFadden, typically out of the backfield -- five of the offense's first eight plays, 9 of the first 16, 12 of the first 20.

Quarterback Carson Palmer offered this explanation for all the short throws:

"(The Chargers) were staying in base defense and we liked our matchups with our running backs underneath," Palmer said. "And also we have beaten them in the past over the top, and they were just getting a ton of depth. They were not going to give up big plays.

"Their corners pressed the line of scrimmage a lot and were just turning and running for the hills. Their safeties played extremely deep and then the linebackers underneath the safeties stayed pretty deep and gave us some underneath throws, and Darren did a great job when he had the ball."

McFadden said it wasn't preordained that he would get so many touches.

"We just go with the offense. However the offense is called, that's how we roll," he said. "You never know what to expect when you run into a football game, whether you're going to get it this many times or whatever. We roll with the flow of the game."

Keeping their injury-prone back is of paramount concern to the Raiders this year, so it's hard to imagine McFadden regularly shouldering such a workload. It'll be a task for head coach Dennis Allen and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp to find the right balance. As Allen said after the game: "We'll go back and we'll look at the tape and we'll see if maybe there are some things where we can maybe utilize some other people."

But, he added, "It's football. We're going to use him."

"I don't have a problem with it," McFadden said. "Like I said, I'm a ballplayer and that's what they pay me to do, go out there and handle it like this."

As for Ford, Allen said he was a no-show for the game. And Moore, who was running on the field before the game, "was very close," Allen said.

"He probably could've played in the game, but I chose not to play him because it's a long season. I wanted to make sure we had him healthy for the majority of the season."

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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