Last season, a major problem with the Oakland Raiders was their total and utter lack of a running game. The combination of two over the hill backs in Maurice Jones Drew and Darren McFadden along with an offensive line who struggled to open holes big enough for even the diminutive MJD to get through was a recipe for disaster. Once the coaching staff finally decided to give Latavius Murray a chance at running the ball, it was like the entire offense got a shot in the arm. Derek Carr and the receivers played better with defenses forced to play honest and suddenly it was no longer three and out on every possession.
In 2015, the Raiders hope to build off of that and put together a run game that will lead the team rather than hold it back. Gone are MJD and DMC and replacing them are Trent Richardson, Roy Helu Jr. and Michael Dyer and so far, the early returns are positive. Offensive line coach Mike Tice took a detour during an interview to discuss the running backs. He spoke highly of both Murray and Richardson. He noted that Murray has nice speed and is learning to finish his runs better (an issue in practice last season). He also stated that Richardson has lost some weight and has shown quickness (something he lacked at his last stop with the Colts). But it was Helu that Tice truly gushed over:
And then the young man we picked up out of Washington (Helu), a local boy out of San Ramon, I think he had an outstanding offseason and he shows good quickness, good awareness.
Helu is a given to make the team because he plays a different role than the others with his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Murray is also a given because of the fact that he is a young draft pick who has shown potential, the Raiders will want to see how he does going forward.
Richardson and Dyer are two question marks. Richardson was a top three pick in the NFL Draft who never turned into what people expected of him. Dyer was once one of the top college running backs but off-field issues kept him out of the NFL draft and hoping to join the league as an undrafted free agent. Both have immense potential but both have shown issues with reaching that potential. Even if just one of them shows up and reaches that potential it will be huge for the Raiders. But luckily for them, both Murray and Helu are already looking good so at least two of the backs in the Raiders system should fair well.