Darren McFadden Experiencing Career Renaissance With Cowboys In 2015
On a team alleged to be filled to overflowing with offensive superstars, Darren McFadden was the conspicuously patented underachiever on the Dallas Cowboys roster coming into this season. Not only was he a noted loser, having spent seven long seasons in Oakland, but also an injury-prone runner who had a hard time staying on the field for an entire season.
Now as December nears its close, it has become apparent that fate and circumstance has done for McFadden what nobody could have imagined back in August. Once slotted as a role player behind Joseph Randle, the one-time Arkansas star now finds himself as the lone star on a Dallas offense ravaged by an unfortunate injury and uninhibited ineptness.
Tony Romo has been in and out of the lineup. Mostly out. Dez Bryant has battled injuries and a bad case of the dropsies. Whether it be via fumble or drop, Cole Beasley has had his problems holding onto the ball as well. Terrance Williams looks lost without Tony Romo to find him. And the Cowboys’ host of quarterbacks can’t seem to figure out how to get Jason Witten the ball with any consistency.
The one consistent producer for the Dallas offense in 2015 has been McFadden, as he has piled up five 100-yard rushing games in just nine starts. Since a hamstring injury slowed him during the early portions of training camp, McFadden has also avoided landing on the injury-list. No, Darren will not be part of a winning team for the first time in his professional career. The Cowboys’ 4-10 record assures him of that. But he is on the verge of joining an exclusive club.
Since Emmitt Smith accomplished it for the twelfth consecutive season in 2001, the Dallas Cowboys have had only two running backs post 1,000 yard rushing campaigns – Julius Jones in 2006, and DeMarco Murray in 2013 and 2014. With 898 yards through fourteen games, McFadden is poised to become the third.
Even more impressive are his numbers over the last two months. Since taking over the starting duties from Randle in Week 7 versus the New York Giants, McFadden is the No. 3 rusher in the NFL with 769 yards, trailing only Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson. And among the top-ten leading rushers in the league, his yards-per-carry average of 4.49 ranks fifth over that time-span.
That McFadden is poised to set a new career-high in rushing attempts for a single season can be attributed to his new-found effectiveness in moving the chains. Of his 208 carries, 46 have produced a first-down, another career-high.
Lost in a miserable stretch of games which has seen the Cowboys drop eight of ten and fall from the playoff race, McFadden has climbed to No. 8 on the league’s rushing chart. That he has done most of his work without a credible quarterback on the field is another credit to him.
Unlike so many of his current teammates, Darren McFadden has made the most out of uncomfortable circumstances. He has over-achieved, even if the public has largely overlooked it.