From afar, the Raiders run game doesn't look very imposing. So far this season, Oakland is rushing for just under 61 yards per game, not exactly a stat that strikes fear.
But the Falcons see the name of Darren McFadden in Oakland's backfield and they know better. That per-game statistic aside, McFadden is possibly the most dangerous running back they've faced this season and he deserves some respect, especially from a Falcons run D that is ranked 27th in the league.
The one game of McFadden's that jumps out this season is the Week 3 performance against Pittsburgh, a defense allowing less than 100 yards per game this season. Against the Steelers McFadden ran for 113 yards and his ability to quickly get past defenders on the way to the endzone was evident by his 64-yard touchdown run.
"He's a great back," middle linebacker Akeem Dent said. "He's one of those one-cut guys. He'll want to go downhill, get his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and go north and south. "
Not unlike the back they saw last week, Alfred Morris from Washington, McFadden is a back that looks to use his vision in conjunction with his talent. As a "one-cut" back, he's looking for the flow of action to go one way, make a read and cut it back through the seam.
Morris gave the Falcons fits last week, rushing for 115 yards and McFadden could do similar things to Atlanta if they let him. The Falcons defense knows this is a problem and they're working to get it fixed.
"I think we'll just get better every week at that," Sean Weatherspoon said. "We've been doing some good things on certain plays, but certain plays we haven't been able to stop. That's something we want to do so we've just got to keep watching the tape and just focus on the run game for this week and know what we have to."
While they're doing a lot of things right, including positive moments against the run, the defense as a whole knows they can't let teams continue to run up the yards against them. It hasn't cost them a game yet, but eventually it could. They look to Oakland and McFadden as yet another tough test for what could be coming down the road. No matter what, they know it's got to change.
"For me personally, it's embarrassing to be ranked where we're ranked because I know the type of guys we've got," safety William Moore said. "I definitely know we'll turn it around, but it's got to be now. We've got some tough offenses and running backs that we'll be facing. It's not being physical that is the problem. We've got to figure it out and it's got to happen fast."