After watching the Week 14 matchups, Scouts Inc. shares these key observations:
1. Raiders RB Darren McFadden is a really interesting player to me. I really didn't like him coming out of college and frankly, I didn't like him as an NFL runner heading into this season. I saw a guy who was built like a wide receiver and was too reliant on his straight-line speed. He rarely moved a pile, didn't show a lot of lateral agility or power and took a lot of big hits. I didn't think he could stay on the field consistently. But he has changed his game and is now very quick to get downhill. McFadden is more powerful now than when he entered the league and keeps his legs churning much better on contact. As he showed against Jacksonville, he still has the long speed to run away from tacklers. The zone running scheme in Oakland fits his new style very well, as he is much better when his shoulders are parallel to the line of scrimmage. The Raiders' coaching staff deserves credit for getting the most from McFadden. I still have some doubts and don't yet consider McFadden among the best running backs in football, but I have to give him a lot of credit for his improvement. He was terrific this week.