This off-season the Raiders traded for former Carolina Panther’s RB Mike Goodson in a rare player for player trade, giving up the rights to OL Bruce Campbell for Goodson.
Goodson had hardly any opportunities in Carolina, being buried on the depth chart. In fact, during the 2011 season he did not carry the ball once. His only stat for 2011 was a reception that gained 4 yards.
In 2010, Goodson was able to help his team much more. He played in all 16 games that season and started 3 when both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were out with injury.
It was to those games in which he was a starter that I turned for his film review because it gave me the best idea of how he would hold up over a game and how complete a back he was.
Specifically, I looked at Weeks 10 and 11 of the 2010 season, with Carolina facing off against Tampa Bay and Baltimore, respectively.
Carolina gave a lot of I formation and single back looks and Goodson did well with both, which is good because I imagine that the Raiders will do both, but especially be heavy on I formations with Knapp running the offense.
Goodson showed impressive burst to the line. Prior to his film review, my impression of him was that he was a big back – more in the Michael Bush mold. This is incorrect. He has good size but he’s a much more shifty and faster back than Bush. He doesn’t seem to initiate contact like Bush did, either. I consider that a plus, actually because back’s that initiate too much contact tend to wear down their bodies that much faster.
Goodson has a reputation for fumbling and it’s clear that it’s an issue. The fumbles I saw were predominately because he was holding the ball out in his hand and trying to juke or get extra yardage instead of clamping the ball as he should. This is a coach-able trait, however, and many backs including Tiki Barber and, more recently, Adrian Peterson have been able to work hard and improve their holds to reduce fumbles.
He is not a small guy – he stands at 6’0″ which is moderately tall for a RB – but he has exceptional change of direction. He was able to juke LBs for extra yards consistently. Some of the moves were quite impressive actually.
One thing that may be an issue is that he sometimes tries to bounce the ball outside too quickly and ends up getting negative yardage. For example if the call is to hit the ball in between the LG and C and it seems to be blocked, there, he has a tendency to try to bounce it to the outside and get to the edge. When this works, he has the speed to turn the corner and get some positive yards but when it doesn’t, he hasn’t been vertical enough and usually is still in the backfield for a loss.
If teams study his film it seems likely that they would specifically work on making sure the gaps are clogged in the middle and driving him to the outside where LBs and CBs can bring him down. It would be better if he focused on being more of a downhill runner and get the hard 3-4 yards in those instances instead of seeking the home run run every time.
It seems likely that the zone running style will work well for him, though. He was good at getting to the line quickly and he frequently picked a good crease, made his move, and got to the secondary very quickly.
He was active in the receiving game and showed soft hands. He is a complete back in that he can stay on the field for all 3 downs – as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. He has the ability to make people miss in the open field so he would be a good option to split out wide, too, if there’s a matchup with a LB that Knapp and Co want to exploit.
He wasn’t asked to block too frequently in the Carolina scheme – instead he frequently moved to make sure that there wasn’t an open blitzer and then moved into an open zone as a dump-off option for the QBs.
When he was asked to block he did a good job of squaring up and taking on his man. He was much better on defensive ends vs defensive tackles but that’s to be expected considering the size difference.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with his quickness and versatility. These days teams are less concerned about having “thunder and lighting” alternating layers and more concerned with putting great athletes on the field.
If Goodson can learn to carry the ball correctly, he is much more electric than Michael Bush. I expect Goodson and Taiwan Jones to have to step up this year with McFadden almost certainly getting at least some sort of injury and think that the two of them will do a good job of carrying the ball for the team.
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