COMMENTARY | When Greg Knapp was brought in to run the Oakland Raiders' offense last season, everyone in Raider Nation held their breath while they were forced to conceal the bitter taste lingering in their desperate mouths.
Knapp was a horrible offensive coordinator in Oakland both times he was there. He was so bad the first time, that former head coach Tom Cable stripped him of his play calling duties.
That's why it was comical for head coach Dennis Allen to bring Knapp back knowing he has never been successful as an offensive coordinator.
Christmas came twice in a week for Raider fans when Knapp was fired immediately after Oakland's season came to an end.
In the midst of an all-around horrendous season for the rebuilding Raiders in 2012, running back Darren McFadden saw his numbers plunge to a career low due to Knapp's zone-blocking scheme.
The former Heisman Trophy candidate only averaged 3.3 yards per carry in 2012, and he still managed to get injured in the process.
Instead of attacking the hole and running downhill, McFadden was forced to make lateral runs while heavily depending on his offensive line to adjust to the new system as well.
Needless to say, McFadden is ready to put the past behind him and focus on the future. The Raiders brought in Greg Olsen to run the offense next year, and McFadden is more than happy about it.
"I came in last year with my hopes super high," he told the Contra Costa Times (via NFL.com) "They were just crushed. So I wanted to put that behind me and move forward."
General manager Reggie McKenzie is also moving forward, and he's done so with authority by ridding the franchise of several bloated contracts left behind by late owner Al Davis.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Carson Palmer, Brandon Myers, Shane Lechler, Michael Huff, Philip Wheeler, Desmond Bryant, Rolando McClain and Tommy Kelly are all notable names who are no longer on the team.
As of now, the offense is led by an inexperienced quarterback in Matt Flynn who lacks solid starting experience. The Raiders need McFadden to have a huge year in 2013.
When healthy, he is one of the best running backs in the league. However, that when cannot be emphasized enough.
McFadden has found himself on the disabled list every year since coming into the league in 2008 and has failed to play in more than 13 games during any season.
Now, the Raiders need him more than ever to stay healthy and play the type of electrifying football he's capable of playing.
Olson has returned the team to a power-blocking scheme and it will compliment McFadden and his aggressive running style.
"That's one of the things I like about it. I'm the type of guy I like to get going downhill, so I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a great fit for our team," McFadden said. (via NFL.com)
Then again, the Raiders need to do everything in their power to cater to their best player.
McFadden is entering a contract year and a strong (and don't forget healthy) season will help dictate if the Raiders feel confident in bringing him back for the long term.
McKenzie has already freed up millions of dollars for 2014 after blowing up the roster he once had, and McFadden is sure to be in his future plans if he can stay healthy.
With the power-blocking scheme back in town, his numbers are sure to be better than last year's. They really can't get any worse.
The future is looking bright in Oakland, and with a confident McFadden leading the way, the Raiders should expect big things from him.
Steven Slivka is a Freelance Writer for the Oakland Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter @StevenSlivka.
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