Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden is coming off of back-to-back disappointing seasons, and both he and fellow Raiders running back Rashad Jennings are set to hit free agency this offseason. Jennings became the Raiders starting back this season after McFadden went down with yet another injury, and he’s more durable, has less milage, and is more consistent than McFadden. While he doesn’t have McFadden’s natural talent, talent only gets you so far, and Jennings’s dependability makes him better suited for the role of a feature back. His better health and better play in 2013 seal the fact that, in my mind, Jennings will be the Raiders feature back in 2014 and a bit beyond, whereas McFadden will have to find a new team to play for.
That new team could very well be the Cincinnati Bengals, who lost offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to the Washington Redskins where is now the head coach. But the man promoted to offensive coordinator by the Bengals is Hue Jackson, who is one of the most respected minds on offense in the league and does an incredible job of developing running backs. Previously the running backs coach of the Bengals, Jackson helped out UNC rookie Giovani Bernard a great deal, and it’s possible that he could convince the Bengal to bring McFadden aboard this offseason.
According to ESPN NFL Nation’s Paul Gutierrez, Jackson told ESPN Radio’s 95.7 The Game in San Francisco that he still loves McFadden, “You guys know how I feel about Darren McFadden; he’s still one of my favorite players.”
Jackson added, “What a tremendous talent. But I really like my little guy Gio [Bernard]. He had a real good season. But I don’t think you can ever have too many good backs.”
I doubt McFadden ends up joining forces with Jackson again, but a change of scenery and reuniting with Jackson could do just the trick for McFadden, who hasn’t had a big season since his breakout year of 2010 in which he ran for over 1,100 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. In both 2012 and 2013, Run DMC has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry.