ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Through the first two weeks of the season, the Raiders have racked up nearly 400 rushing yards, the second-most in the NFL.
The Broncos, in contrast, have allowed just 81 total rushing yards in the first two games – the best mark in the league.
On Monday night, something will have to give.
“We pride ourselves on stopping the run and they pride themselves on running the ball,” defensive tackle
While the Raiders’ mobile quarterback Terrelle Pryor has boosted the Raiders ground game, running back Darren McFadden is the workhorse. He’s had 36 carries in the first two games for 177 yards and a touchdown.
Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio was confident that Pryor’s abilities wouldn’t distract him from preparing for McFadden.
“He’ll get our attention,” Del Rio laughed. “We know he’s a really good player, especially when he’s healthy, and it looks like he is completely healthy. They do a great job with design of getting their backs and their quarterback in space with room to run. They've blocked it up well. They’re right at the top of the league in rushing. It’s a big challenge for us.”
In the Raiders’ win against Jacksonville last week, McFadden ran for 129 yards and picked up an average of 6.8 yards per carry. When McFadden is having success on the ground, the Raiders are a dangerous team.
In his career, McFadden has played the Broncos nine times in a regular season game. Each time that he has picked up six or more yards per carry, the Raiders have won.
“He’s a tremendous player,” Head Coach John Fox said Friday. “When I first got here, I don’t remember what it was, but he rushed for about 350 yards in the two games prior. He’s very talented. He’s talented both in the run game and in the pass game. He’s very explosive and you’ve got to be very disciplined in your gap fits.”
McFadden has put up 520 yards and five touchdowns in his last five games against the Broncos.
But the Broncos have shown that running against them is not an easy task this season. Last week against the Giants, the Broncos benefitted from a good push from the defensive line and found themselves in the backfield on several occasions.
For the game, the Giants were limited to just 23 rushing yards.
Vickerson credited that success to Del Rio’s play calling and the domination of one-on-one blocks. The Broncos will be looking for that same push this week against the Raiders.
“That’s just what we have to continue to do, continue to force our will, continue to play our ball and continue to dominate the one-on-one blocks,” Vickerson said. “Whatever block you really get, you really have to dominate it. That’s what our mindset is up front just going in and dominating the whole 60 minutes.
“It’s going to be a clash of heads, it’s going to be a banger but I’m not shying away from it. I’m sure they’re not either.”