If you're a Cowboys fan (why else would you be here?) then you're basically in the same boat that Raiders fans have been in the last several years when it comes to Darren McFadden: What's he got? How's it gonna help us win?
But it's early yet for McFadden, the Dallas Cowboy, so I found this video on YouTube with highlights of McFadden in Oakland. The time range isn't clear and please excuse the explicit language in the video's music track. We did not make this video.
The Video Link
Because it's YouTube and NFL content, you'll have to go to YouTube to watch the video. Here's the link (it will open in a new tab): Ultimate Darren McFadden Highlights
I thought it was worth noting how he runs and this video shows off a lot of his style.
He came out of college with a reputation as a straight-line back and you can see that in the video plenty. I saw an occasional juke, but most of it was stiff arms, bulldozing, and a few spins for good measure.
Darren McFadden has positive qualities
It's not the biggest question. He is a good RB. His questions revolve around durability and health. But watch the video… I'll wait.
He's not big on side-to-side running. Even an outside route will turn up the field early if he sees an opening. Perhaps you don't like that style of running but I freaking love it. Get up the field and gain positive yards. That beats all the fancy footwork for a loss every time.
What impressed me most is his instincts for positive yardage. That's probably McFadden's biggest asset: his nose for the end zone.
He's looking to get up the field on every play. He'll go through anyone he can and he's actually pretty good at making contact and staying on his feet. The video shows a ton of yards after the first point of contact and that's what you want from your running back behind the caliber of offensive line the Cowboys field each week.
You want a guy who can suss out a hole and get to it quickly, taking whatever contacts in stride. He does that.
Second, I saw that Darren spots holes very quickly and gets to them. You have to respect a guy with good vision while running the football. He's deceptively quick about getting through holes because he looks sort of stiff as he runs, but slight changes in direction come with a bit of power and burst.
He's also got good habits regarding ball control. He doesn't have the best record when it comes to fumbles, but seeing the nose of that ball in his hand, holding it close to his body and in his outside hand makes me feel better about him.
He's very simple and direct with his running style, and I like that. It's similar to how DeMarco Murray runs the ball, only Murray takes a bit more of a beating and is more elusive when he needs to cut.
All in all, and just for what it's worth this early in the game and late in his career, I saw some things in this video that I hadn't seen as much before it. Maybe you will, too.
He Needs To Bring Those Qualities To The Field in Dallas
Taking what's in the video and adding it to his limited performance against the 49ers last night doesn't add up. He wasn't getting much help from the offensive line, but neither were Joseph Randle or Gus Johnson and they managed to get more done in their time on the field.
Ben Malena also played last night but didn't get a whole lot done.
There are some notes from the game that contribute to the lack of “Wow” in McFadden's game, but that's for another time. For now, just take a look at what McFadden can do and let's see how he stacks up next week against the Vikings.