Raiders' McFadden Could be a Wild Card in 2014

Oakland toying with using running back as a change-of-pace read-option quarterback on occasion this season

The NFL the past two years has had an infatuation with running quarterbacks and the read-option offense.

But with quarterbacks Matt Schaub, Derek Carr and Matt McGloin on the roster, the Raiders wouldn’t seem to be a part of that wave anymore, now that 2013 starter Terrelle Pryor is gone. The three QBs aren't known for their speed or footwork.

Yet, that might not be the case. Apparently, the Raiders are considering throwing a few wrinkles at defenses in 2014.

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson told Jim Trotter of that the team is tinkering with the idea of having running back Darren McFadden be the ballhandler in some situations as part of a change-of-pace read-option or Wildcat scheme – especially when both McFadden and veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew are in the backfield at the same time.

“There were some things that we really liked about the read-option scheme and we’ll still be capable of doing some of them because of Darren’s background in college,” Olson told Trotter. “The thought of having him and Maurice back there together is kind of intriguing to us. So we’ll look to keep some of those elements in the offense.”

McFadden ran some Wildcat early in his Raiders career, and he was particularly effective with it in college at Arkansas.

With the Razorbacks, McFadden ran the “Wild Hog,” a formation that often was unstoppable.  In 2006, McFadden took direct snaps in the Wild Hog often in a 50-48 overtime upset of No. 1-ranked LSU, rushing for 206 yards and three touchdowns while also throwing a TD pass – a perfect play-action 24-yarder to Peyton Hillis. He also took a direct snap in the Wild Hog and burst through the defense on a 73-yard run.

McFadden says being the quarterback in some direct-snap plays and running the read-option is something he’d enjoy.

“It’s always fun to me, being able to get back there behind center,” McFadden told Trotter. “It takes me back to my old roots. The first position I ever played was quarterback. It was my first love.”

McFadden, who had a disappointing 2013 in Oakland – again suffering injuries that kept him out of the lineup – re-signed with the Raiders in the offseason and is eager to get his career back on track.

It’s possible that the competition between McFadden and Jones-Drew could sharpen both of them for the regular season. On Sunday, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said both want to earn the No. 1 running back job.

“They’re competing really hard,” he told reporters. “It’s important for both of them. Both of them want to be the starter. They wouldn’t be good football players if they didn’t want that.”

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