Maurice Jones-Drew looks at the Raiders’ Darren McFadden and sees a running back who has the total package — that rare combination of size and speed that makes other elite running backs in the NFL take notice.
McFadden loves watching Jones-Drew run the ball for the Jacksonville Jaguars, praising his tenacity that allows him to get yards out of the toughest of situations.
Jones-Drew and McFadden are widely considered among the best running backs in the NFL going into today’s game between the Jaguars (1-4) and Raiders (1-4). They have something else in common that is much less enviable: they have been unable to turn their teams into winners.
“It gets frustrating because you work so hard throughout the week and throughout the offseason to get into your best shape,” said Jones-Drew, who played his high school ball at De La Salle High School in Concord. “At the end of the day we just want to go out there and win some games. Every loss is frustrating.”
Jones-Drew has made the playoffs just once in his seven-year career, coming as Fred Taylor’s backup in 2007. Since taking over the starting job in 2009, the Jaguars have failed to post a winning record even though he led the NFL in rushing during that period.
McFadden came into the league as a heralded college player picked fourth overall in 2008 and has shown the ability to be a game-breaking back when healthy. But the Raiders have yet to post a winning season despite his presence.
He has struggled a bit this season adjusting to a new blocking system, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, but feels poised for a breakout.
“I feel like we’re getting there,” McFadden said. “We still have some things that we need to clean up.”
The Raiders, despite losing 23-20 last week at undefeated Atlanta, are perhaps coming off their best game of the season. But the result was all too familiar as the Falcons drove to the winning field goal with 1 second left to send the Raiders to another loss.