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Darren McFadden must re-relearn Raiders zone scheme

NFL Total Access" continued with its "32 teams in 32 days" series with the Raiders. We decided to score some brownie points by writing an accompanying post each night. We'll focus on one goal that each team needs to accomplish before Week 1.

Raiders must make zone scheme work for Darren McFadden

When Darren McFadden entered the league, the Raiders ran a zone running attack. Darren McFadden didn't appear to be a great fit for it. McFadden didn't truly break through until Hue Jackson arrived and ditched the team's zone attack. He built the offense around McFadden.

So what are the Raiders going to install under offensive coordinator Greg Knapp? A zone running scheme, naturally.

"I was here his rookie year in '08, and by the second half of the season he was just getting a taste of the intricacies of the zone scheme, and I'm kind of a walking dictionary or Wikipedia note for the zone scheme," Knapp told the guys at the Cover Two Podcast this week.

"I've been at four different places once I acquired the knowledge of it: Atlanta, you mentioned Warrick Dunn had his career-best season; then I came out here (to Oakland), Justin Fargas had a 1,000-yard rushing season; then I go to Seattle, Justin Forsett averaged 5.4 yards per carry and had 600 yards in half a season; and then I go to Houston, where they're known for their zone scheme, and an undrafted player (Arian Foster) leads the NFL in rushing.

"The same variable was the zone scheme but every other part changed -- the running back, the O-line coach and the O-lineman. I'm a big believer in the zone scheme."

We are always a little wary of coaches that believe schemes make players rather than the other way around. McFadden undeniably has been better in a power-based scheme. He's Oakland's most dynamic player. Hopefully the team is not trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Getting McFadden healthy again and up to speed in the new/old scheme will be a huge task this August.

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