ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Quarterback Carson Palmer is convinced the Oakland Raiders are doing the right thing by sticking with the running game, even though they have the worst ground game in the NFL this season.
With a running back like Darren McFadden to hand the ball to, Palmer says the Raiders would be foolish to do otherwise.
"Running the ball is what we want to do," Palmer said Wednesday. "Obviously we want to do it better than we have and that's why we continue to work at it. But it's what gets the play-action game going, it's what gets explosive plays because Darren can score from anywhere."
It makes even more sense this week facing an Atlanta defense that has struggled defending the run but has been sharp against the pass. The Falcons already have nine interceptions, second-most in the NFL behind the Chicago Bears.
Palmer is on pace for career highs in attempts, completions and yards passing but the big numbers haven't translated into wins. The Raiders are 1-3 coming off the bye heading into Sunday's game against the undefeated Falcons.
McFadden, who was supposed to be the centerpiece of Oakland's offense, has been a disappointment and the team's zone blocking schemes have been heavily criticized by fans and the media.
The fourth overall pick in 2008, McFadden missed 19 games over his first four season due to injuries but has had no health issues this year. Yet he's had just one 100-yard game this season and was held to under 35 in each of the other three. McFadden's 3.5 yards per carry are also 1.3 below his career mark heading into the year.
Overall, the Raiders are last in the NFL at 60.8 yards a game.
"It may not look it statistically but we talk about run game efficiency," Palmer said. "I know a lot of people outside of this facility are discouraged in our run game but we're not going to stop running the football. If anything we're going to run (it) more. That puts the ball in our best player's hand."
Oakland coach Dennis Allen said the Raiders made a few changes to the running game during the bye week in hopes of taking advantage of Atlanta's problems against the run.